Thursday, July 10, 2008

The adventure begins

Thanks, Zunguzungu.

Welcome to Cycling in Wichita, which is/will be about exactly what the title suggests: my notes on getting around the Air Capital on a bicycle, along with some musings of a more philosophical nature regarding how cycling re-shapes how we think of pragmatic issues such as transportation and transit issues, as well as discussions of such things as the notion of community, our habits as consumers, etc.

Why this blog, on this subject? Well, for one thing, I feel a bit like the fellow on the Raleigh, blogospherically-speaking: Wichita has some wonderful dedicated bikepaths but its streets aren't particularly bike-friendly. Meanwhile, some Googling about turned up several local clubs and blogs about touring, racing and recreational cycling (which, as time permits, I'll be linking to over in the gutter). However, I didn't find any local blogs dedicated to the thrills and chills of using a bike in town as primary mode of transportation--or, for that matter, how cyclists might engage each other and non-cyclists (not to mention, potentially, our elected officials) in discussions about how addressing cyclists' concerns can make a city more livable for everyone and not just people on bicycles. Maybe I just didn't find them. So, one hope I have is that people will find this blog and together we can foster a virtual and, eventually, an in-person community that the 'Nets are supposed to be so conducive in doing.

The other is that I find I have much more to say about all this than I had thought would be the case when I first decided, back in May, to buy a bike for my primary in-town transportation. As you'll see below, I'd already written several cycling-related posts at my other blog, but the people who visit there are almost exclusively not just out of town but out of the country. Some of the things I want to post on regarding cycling here in town simply wouldn't be of interest to such folks. But neither would local people be well served with only vague commentary about my routes--they'd want to know some particulars. So, when I realized that if I wasn't careful my other place would be overrun with posts on cycling, I decided to create this place.

For some initial context, readers should know that I live in the Riverpark Plaza apartments, located at the corner of West Central and Waco streets. Geographically, I could not be better-located as a Wichita cyclist: I'm in the city's center; and Riverside Park, directly across the Little Arkansas from my apartment complex, provides easy access to those wonderful bike-paths through Oak Park and along the Arkansas. However, I teach for Butler Community College's McConnell AFB site; bikes are allowed on base, but commuting there will be a challenge due to major roads to be crossed and the fact that shortcuts through residential areas are risky options. Fortunately, though, I have the summer to work all that out.

To give you some idea of what to expect to find here in the future, here are links to earlier cycling posts at my other blog:

Pedaling as butterfly-wing flapping

The experiment begins

Cycling and the fostering of community

As I get/make time in the next few days, the right gutter will fill up with links to sites that I hope other cyclists will find useful. If you have suggested links, let me know, either in comments or via e-mail at "blogmeridian AT sbcglobal DOT net".

Enough preamble. Welcome, and thanks for reading this far.


John B. said...

Testing the comments widget . . .

dejavaboom said...

Snaps to you. I feel your pain in attempting to ride around Wichita on a bike--dangerous. Now Lawerence, on the other hand, THAT'S a bike-friendly town. I've actually been looking at a long distance bike (20 miles) ride, due to fuel costs, my own poor cardio-vascular etc. I'll read your blog w/enthusiasm.

John B. said...

Deja! How're things, colleague? Thanks for coming by.

I hope you'll find useful what ends up here. As I learn more about how to maintain my bicycle (it was only today, a half-month on, that I bought my first bike-specific tool), I suspect there'll be occasional posts on nuts-and-bolts stuff about the bicycle as a physical machine that has Needs, but in the main it'll be more . . . what's the word . . . "reflective" in tone regarding this cycling stuff. As you may also have seen, another preoccupation here will be contributing to discussions about making Wichita bike-friendlier. It seems to me that its terrain, fairly light traffic and relatively compact size--not to mention a sizable urban population to the immediate north and west of downtown who uses bikes not as toys but as vehicles--make this city an excellent candidate for providing fertile ground for such discussions.

This morning I casually priced some good touring bikes. Talk about sticker shock! But somewhere on down the road, as it were, I'd love to do some riding in the Flint Hills, and my bike just isn't suited for that sort of thing. There's also the matter of my physical condition: I've reached the point now where, when I get home from a ride of a few miles, I feel a little tired but otherwise like I can keep going if I want to. But touring is a whole other animal. Anyway--I wish you well in your thinking about all this.

Pam said...

Now look at you, biking away.

I live 28 miles from the lab - through mostly unfriendly biking territory (I can't imagine that Charleston ranks high) - but what you're doing sounds great. I always question why I live so far out - but really, I don't question it at all. Yeah, it's that whole space to garden thing. Farm, yep, I'm actually farming.

Stay safe out there.

John B. said...


Thanks for coming by and for the kind comments.

As someone who grew up in the country and thought, back in the day, that he'd never be able to live any other way, I perfectly understand why you want to live out of town and "farm." My colleage "dejavaboom" (who commented above) lives on a small farm, too. I'm not the sort of person who looks down on people who choose not to cycle; I will say, though, that (so far--and it's only summer) it's hard for me to imagine a person in a city or suburb for whom cycling couldn't be at least an occasional option.

Thanks again for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled on to you site and have enjoyed what I've read so far. I noticed you've even linked to a couple sites of ours (Coasters and Randy & Nova) Thanks! I've just added you to our links on the Coasters site.

John B. said...

Thank you, Anon.--I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. I've linked to all the cycling blogs known to me that are here in the area; if you (or anyone else) know of any others, I hope you'll let me know.