Thursday, June 14, 2012

Biking in The Suburbs

I commuted this morning on my bike from my house to a men's small group and then from the group to my office. I met up with Jason along the way, and we made it without major incident from our homes to our destinations on the streets and bike trails of Plano.

The reason I would blog about this is that our town is not really suited for commuting by bike on the streets.  

Suburbs are built for cars, not bikes and pedestrians. Bicycles in this town are for recreation and sport, and walking is for exercise. Anything "everyday" is 99% done in a car. It's designed that way. Yes, the City of Plano is making strides to make motorists aware of bikes  on the streets (See below), but they are still dominated by motorized vehicles and angry drivers.

I recently connected with a virtual acquaintance, Sean Benesh, who lives and commutes in Portland. He muses about such things as being Metrospiritual and creating a "bikeable" church. He has dipped into the cycling ethos of that city to be the incarnational church in that place. Check out his insights here
After conversing with Sean online, he made me aware of some things that are lacking in both our city and our church facilities related to a "bikeable" environment.

Here are some of those:

When we arrived at our small group meeting spot, there was no bike rack or place to secure our bikes. Plenty of parking for cars, but not one space for a bicycle. We don't have those at our church facilities, either. If someone chose to ride to Legacy Church, what would they do with their bicycle? 

And, when I got to the office the only secure place I had to put my bike and accessories was a storage closet used by multiple groups, including refreshments for the Legacy Cyclists' Sunday rides. What if more staff and volunteers rode to work and serve, what would they do with their bike and gear?

Most of the bike paths and trails (Indicated on the map links above, which we did not follow completely) do not have controlled intersections for major thoroughfares. When you ride the concrete trails, you are left playing "frogger" with the cross traffic.

The biggest downside to commuting by bike in Plano is the weather. It gets too hot to ride to work without showering and changing clothes when you get there. The months of June--September are out of the question if you want to ride or walk to work and walk straight into a meeting. Neither the city or the church can change the weather, but it does contribute to why we don't commute on foot or bike as much.

Yes, Portland is "cool" with its cycling culture. Here's one look if you want to be jealous.

Kudos to the City of Plano who is trying to make our suburb a more bike-friendly place. They have posted signs and designated bike paths throughout the City. Check out bikeplano.org for more.  

Let's make Plano more bike-friendly by getting more bikes on the roads and being drivers who share the road.

Go ahead. Give commuting a try. I've not moved my car from in front of my house for two days. (Yes, we have used our other car.) You'll get both your re-creation and exercise in for the day, and you'll give the environment a break, too.

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