Riding the Streets Day 10

August 22, 2010

Yea! Finally got a ride in after 10 weeks off. We’ll I was gone most weekends this summer, and the ones I wasn’t, damn it was hot. Yeah I’m a wimp.

Today, I got a huge chunk covered. I took out the whole northwest side of the city, from Price Road to Georgetown Street to the west-of-Broadway neighborhoods.

Time: 1:34. Temp 78 (it was pretty early)

I figure I now have covered 70% of all the streets inside New Circle Road.

Ride Quality.

Early Sunday morning, not too much traffic. A little breeze in the air. Humid, you can feel it, but not too bad.

The vast majority of the ride was fairly flat. Remarkable really. Makes me wonder: did the early developers flatten it, or was this a pretty level area of Fayette County to begin with?

Neighborhood Character.

I rode though some of the most economically challenged neighborhoods in Lexington. I rode through some of the most economically advantaged neighborhoods in Lexington. And I did that in the lateral space of less than 2 miles. We all live together here.

Off of Price Road, I entered what I assume to be the largest single manufactured housing neighborhood in Lex. A mixed bag here. Lots of really nice places. Porches, trees, decorations. And then some of the units were empty, uninhabitable. And cars EVERYWHERE. Lining the streets, in yards, side spaces, wherever.

(I couldnt help it – subconsciously, I can’t take a picture with too many cars in it I guess….)

Then I scooted over to St. Martin’s Village. So reminiscent of other developments on the west and south sides: one story brick jobs on decent sized lots. I don’t know, but I assume that this neighborhood got its start as a northside suburban alternative if you were red-lined from the southside in the past. Bullshit, but here’s the reality, perhaps.

(WE NEED STREET TREES!)

Very quiet on a Sunday morning. A few people working in their yards. I saw one family doing some grilling at 10am. It smelled good.

Down Georgetown Street and in and out of the streets that line it: Roosevelt Boulevard, White Street, Douglas Avenue, Ash Street. This is an inner city neighborhood, with many blighted properties. Yet on some streets there does appear to be a solid base of care.

The new development on what used to be the Charlotte Court public housing estate is quite nice, if suburban. The key feature was saving the trees, which add a grace to the typical snout houses usually found way out in the burbs.

What stuck me in this whole area though, is the small town, suburban quality of the streets. There just isn’t any density here to speak of. Nearly every unit is single family. And while there are vast differences between this neighborhood and others, on the south side for example, the overall philosophy is the same – each dwelling an island in patch of green. For the most part, we all live suburban lives here – rich and poor, black and white.

I must admit I hadn’t been on most of these streets before today. I never had a reason to. And they had a bad reputation. But I rode them all and never thought twice. And I discovered a place I didn’t know before today: Cove Haven Cemetery off of Whitney Avenue. This place is big. I’m disappointed in myself as I consider myself a cemetery aficionado, and I’d been to all the nooks and crannies of the Lexington Cemetery, which abuts Cove Haven. Yet I never saw it. Don’t know what caused my blindness.

(Do you ever wonder what happened when there is only one name on a tombstone meant for two?  For some reason, it this just makes me very sad.  But maybe there was a good story in it somehow….)

Off of Newtown Pike I rode some streets that had me singing Sunday Morning Coming Down. Just hard, empty spaces.

Crossing Newtown Pike, one enters a unique part of town. One of the most dense thanks to the towers off of Second Street. One of the most quickly rejuvenating thanks to the investment going on along Jefferson Street. One of the most modest along Willy Street and one of the richest one street over on Fayette Park.

The area around Transylvania is such a contradiction. Play fields for college kids abut run down shotguns. And elegant Hampton Court shares an alley with very modest places.

Do we create images in our head and then choose not to see reality? Do we not care about the harsh juxtapositions and contradictions? Is it not a big deal?

It’s like that in the whole area west of Broadway. The houses on Sixth Street, for example, are simply stunning, while around the corner on North Jefferson many houses appear to be substandard.

Is this anything, since it has existed so long? Or is it time to bring more balance to our neighborhoods by ever more aggressively investing in housing and infrastructure improvements in the areas that need them most? I think so. This will make us stronger – and more resilient in the times we are facing ahead.

General Thoughts

  1. We will regret that we didn’t plant street trees on every street in the city. Yeah, they are pretty, but with our fancy cars, who needed them? Well we will, when we have to walk and bike more.
  2. One way streets suck for bikers. We know the whole host of other reasons, but add this one to the list. Good biking is about efficient use of energy. One way streets demand more energy than necessary out of bikers. We’ve got to get this city reoriented to people – not cars.
  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Lexington is such a small town. I mean that physically, as much as intellectually and philosophically. Size wise, that isnt such a bad thing. Intellectually, well…..
  4. There is such a lack of neighborhood serving stores in this city. A true economic and neighborhood development strategy would focus on returning markets to neighborhoods. High tech is fine. But real people need to live well and that means local foods, locally available.
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Riding the Streets Day 10

  1. If you have overlooked the Cove Haven Cemetery for so long, then you probably did not notice the large vacant lot to the left as you approached the gate from Whitney Ave. It is a portion of the Forest Hill Subdivision and has, since the late 1890s, been a “potters field”. A place for the indigent to be buried, without gravestone and at county expense. I do not know if it is full or not, but it is still hallowed ground.

    Habitat for Humanity and other faith based builders are working to reinvigorate this area.

    • I did notice the lone headstone in the field surrounded by a low wall – I assumed that it was a portion of the cemetery that had simply been unmarked – very interesting – I only had to live here 28 years to learn about this….better late than never….

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