I was walking this morning with my 3 year old, 1 year old, and 15 year old dog on a paved trail near near Gorgoza. Suddenly, a pack of 10 child-bikers came racing down the path. I moved my crew off to the side because, well my 15 year old dog wasn’t exactly legal per Summit County Leash Laws, and it’s frankly the right thing to do. We then continued walking and then came 4 kids on bikes. We again moved out of the way. Then came 3 kids and their mom. I thought “what the heck is going on?” Something was different today.
Per KPCW, I learned that today was “Bike to Work… Bike to School Day.” My experience now makes a lot more sense.
Yet what makes more sense is the way I viewed those bikers, before I knew what was going on. I saw a group of kids riding with what appeared to be a teacher from school. I saw mothers riding with their children. I saw older kids riding with their younger siblings to ensure they were safe. Again, I had no clue of what was going on but I thought, “Wow, isn’t that great. These people are embracing the outdoors.” It seems so much like what I think of when I think of Park City. A few minutes later I remember looking over and seeing the Salt Lake City to Park City Connect Bus on I-80. Did that illicit any mental response? No.
I often hear that we want to make sure our communities are walkable, rideable, and accessible (via buses). Yet, having witnessed this during this morning, walkable is not an option. Kids aren’t going to walk 3 miles to school. As for buses, the likelihood that I or my children will hop on one is 1 in a 1000 unless it is bright yellow and headed toward school. That leaves ridable — via bikes or similar transportation alternative.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought about it until today, but riding makes sense. We have large distances to cover. Bikes
are can be cheap. Why aren’t we focusing on that as a first option? If we would treat the bike as a first class citizen, we would make our plans around it. We would make design decisions around. It’s not like it is an abnormal mode of transport. In fact, in most of the world it is the primary means of transportation.
What it also does is add to our brand. We are not a city of people sitting on busses staring on our iPads. We are an area that embraces the outdoors and the experience it offers us. Why do we want to emulate Atlanta when we can be ourselves? Why don’t we invent and then become the mountain town that solved its transportation problems through bikes (winter and summer).
Today showed me a perspective I hadn’t considered before. While buses, roads, and interstates may make sense for those invested in them (suppliers, construction companies, and government entities that are focused on roads), what is right for us? Perhaps bikes aren’t exactly it. Maybe a combo bike/e-bike is right. Maybe there is skate skiing to destinations in the winter. Maybe it’s something else. However, the more I look at traditional services like buses and rail, the more I think people are pushing a solution that is not the right fit for us. They attended a conference in Seattle and now want to do it here.
Perhaps you are looking forward to riding a bus into town. I’m not. I am, however, looking forward to next winter when I can install my fat tires, put on my hat, enjoy the sounds that only falling snow provides, and cruising toward my local grocer. That’s who I want to be.
I used to do that in the fourth grade. Today’s experience reminded me of what I wish I was. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of use want to be that way. If only our roads, trails, and government supported that.