On Friday, March 13, I attended the Walking and Biking Summit in Grand Junction.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that if I weren’t a trail advocate I would have had any interest in attending. If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you know I’m kind of a dirt junky (evidence HERE). And from the looks of the agenda, the summit was to be all about pavement.
But you know what? I have to ride pavement to get to dirt. I have to ride pavement to get my kids to school. I have to ride pavement when I go out with my friend Matt because he only has a road bike. And I’ve realized, being on pavement is terrifying in this town.
I’ve met many women who show interest in mountain biking but are too afraid because they might fall down on a rock and get hurt. This does happen, people. I have scars – granted, they are more from trees and my own bike than from a rock – but scars are scars. And just like every other scar on my body, I’m proud of them. Is being active on the trail inherently risky? Yes.
But what bravery I may boast is saved for the road. Why?
Because of cars and the people who drive them. You may get scratched, bruised and scarred on the dirt – but you get mortally wounded or killed if you’re hit by a car on the road. Yes, I realize that I’m one of those motor-driving people, too, but if you’ve ever ridden a bike through a busy intersection and almost been run down by a young woman driving a huge truck talking on her cell phone, you know what I mean (I know what I mean because this almost happened to me and were it not for my keen awareness and intense bike handling skills I would have been flat as a pancake on the pavement). People don’t notice. And this is a grievance from both ends: the cyclists complain of the motorists just as the motorists complain of the cyclists.
There IS a solution, though, and I think that’s what the Summit was about. Let’s get people who are not protected by the steel body of a great beast they may or may not be in complete focused control of off the road. Let’s have bike lanes for bikes. Let’s have sidewalks for pedestrians. Let’s have paved non-motorized trails that can be utilized as connections. And for the sake of all that is good in humanity, let’s give kids a safe way to get to and from school under their own power! Rise up, parents of kids who wait in massively long lines of cars to pick up and drop off kids because it’s unsafe for them to walk down the road where there is no sidewalk!
So I was a the summit. Because I do want to have less fear of being on pavement. I do want a safer, healthier community at large. And I do want all of these things to connect us to better physical and mental health. And that means connecting us, eventually, to trails.
For more information on bike road fatalities, check out the following links: