Bet you didn’t know that last weekend all across the U.S. god damn of A. (and probably other places) there were bike events called “Tweed Runs” where folks dressed up in tweed or otherwise dapper clothing and hit their towns to ride in style? Maybe you did but do you know why there isn’t one in Richmond? Me either. We should be having a tweed run (ride or whatever) twice annually (well maybe once a year) as they are in other cities. I know so many kids that are probably too cool for this that I want to have one really badly. Problem with this type of event or others like it is this type of bike culture isn’t supported here. I know it seems like cycling is popular, lotsa of kids at VCU are on bikes and all that but really the problem is the only other folks you really see around are people who don’t have licenses riding on Jeff Davis or whatever, real commuting culture doesn’t exist here. I’m not blaming the people in the city as it certainly isn’t a supported behavior by any of our leaders, but look at other cities for guidance folks. I just don’t want to believe that as Americans it takes sitting in three hours of gridlock or $5 a gallon gas for people to take up cycling to work. Even though I am arguing the point here though, I know I dread seeing even 5% of the idiots on the highway doing the oh shit handlebar wobble in front of me while I am behind them on the way to work but I also know it would be best for everyone and I am willing to ruin (or at least degrade) my pleasure commuting by increasing ridership.
Although I am no expert (except on searching the internet for pictures of people in tweed on bikes)
I think city leaders should be doing much more to support cycling and taking a stand on discouraging driving. Unfortunately it looks like the regular boondoggelers, fat cats, and haberdashers (ok maybe not haberdashers, as they would probably support the tweed run) are running city interests and that means free parking for all, or at least the few who don’t live here and travel infrequently to the center for a meal, night at the Commonwealth club, business meeting with associates or if you are an ABC agent, trips to Velvet for cocaine, watching underage girls perform oral sex on each other, and late night champagne with Sam Moore. At last nights council meeting council looked to be wavering on the issues of parking in the city and fines for towing. I have no sympathy for parking issues honestly and I consider it a form of subsidization (i.e. socilism for you Tea Baggers) to continue to simply GIVE free space to people who aren’t paying for it. It’s my public space as a taxpayer (lotsa taxes, way more than the county, not to mention the exorbitant water bills but that is for another post) and I think council should keep my interests in mind when business owners complain about their rights to have space given away to their patrons for a couple hours on Fridays and Saturdays so out of towners (well at least, less than townies which carries a whole different meaning) want to come hassle free to the center of town. There are more people here, thats why it is a hassle! If you don’t like it we will gladly work with you as good neighbors to find a spot for you to live in the city and develop communities here that suit the needs of you, taxable citizens, who will appreciate our way of life. We should not be striving to make the accommodations of the suburbs available in urban areas as these miniscule benefits carry with them substantial costs. Look at “downtown” short pump. You can’t even cross Broad Street on foot and the isolation of car culture continues to put everyone at risk from auto accidents, marginalize those amongst us who cannot afford the high costs of car ownership, and to continue to destroy what little open spaces we have left. While communities like Tysons corner have realized the car centric development of last century is a failure and are redeveloping their long-term plans for that area Henrico county continues to approve failed developments. You can’t fault them they know no better than the green of easy short-term tax gains from this development but we should take heed and consider that a policy that reflects valuing and encouraging the development of the benefits of urban life that will drive interest for people to obtain these benefits by moviing here, and that our situation is unique and must be capitalized on to recognize it’s true potential. Half measures to pleasure non-urban interests only serve to delay the renaissance the city is banking on with the redevelopment of Broad and now the moves being made on 2nd street. Supporting walkable neighborhoods, cafes, nightlife, public transit options, and zoning that adheres to the city’s master plan will serve to encourage people to move back into our urban area and consequently provide more funds for the improvement of city services again driving additional interest in living in the city.
No this city isn’t a bike city and as a consequence a tweed ride that incorporates so many of the “transport” cyclists out there simply wouldn’t be that successful here. Right now we are a town of fixed gear hipsters, shaved leg mountain bikers with tires big enough to float across the James, and lycra clad sportsters spinning as quickly as they can to a bike shop to dispose of income on cabron fibre and to lighten the weight of their wallet on their rig. Meanwhile I would like to see it happen but for now I can’t really complain that my commute involves saying hello to the one other guy I see on a bike every morning and some coffee on the rocks of the James before doing the work of the people of the Commonwealth.