Riding the Streets Day 13 February 13, 2011

My first city ride in the new year!  And boy was it…..WINDY!  Again!  Two weeks ago I rode the Legacy Trail and it was very windy.  And most of the 12 rides I did last year were done in wind.   I think of all the energy that we could harness….I  am convinced that we are windy enough here to gather at least some of our energy from it.

My route this time took me northside along Broadway and Russell Cave as well as Irishtown and Spiegel Heights on the westside.  I figure I’m down to the last 10% of my goal to ride all the streets within New Circle Road.

Ride time was 1:51.  Temp was 37 when I started and 49 when I finished.  Nice enough when I was out of the wind, but really, the wind took a lot of the fun out of it.

Our friends at Broke Spoke are building a better city, one bike and rider at a time.

Ride Quality

Boy, the winter sure has caused a lot of our streets to crap out.  Holes are everywhere.

The area of town along North Broadway is flatter than a lot of other parts of town.  I basically just wandered back and forth on the streets between Broadway and Limestone.  Rode from 3rd Street over to Jefferson and then out Manchester and then over the Versailles viaduct – a fine spot for people…. (sarcasm)

How must it feel to live in the shadow of such a huge piece of infrastructure?

Versailles Road sucks – too much speed, street broken up, unsightly.   But all in all, it was a really easy ride.  Not much traffic – it was a Sunday morning, and riding the side streets is really simple and safe.

Neighborhood Character

Saw the gamut on this ride: from ragged shotgun houses with garbage bags in windows to keep out the wind to the houses on Gratz Park.  In two blocks, I went from Harry Street, which has some of the most substandard housing in the city, to Elsmere Park, which has some of the finest.  Irishtown seems a world apart as does Spiegel Heights, which possesses some of the finest views of downtown in the city.  I kept thinking of Mt Adams in Cincinnati as I rode the streets in that area.

Cat Dog….new species?  TV show? (Watch Cat Dog!)

Saw many people buying food from the Speedway at the corner of 7th and North Broadway.  It struck me that if it wasn’t for that store, there wouldn’t be anything much food wise in the whole area for people who are forced to walk.

We missed a LOT of city building possibilities on the new Oliver Lewis Way.  No trees, no art, just wide expanse of hardscape – an awful entry into our city, especially from the airport.  This is what you get when a city has an unimaginative mayor who simply lets engineers do their thing.   Now, we’ll spend two decades or longer possibly trying to “fix” what never should have been done in the first place.

I mean THIS is now the entrance into downtown!

General Thoughts

1.       The many substandard housing units on the northside make me wonder how close we are to a tipping point:  if because of the great economic troubles it will get harder to fix these houses, what happens?  Do living standards fall even further, as people with no choice are forced to remain?  Do people just move out, leaving areas depopulated? What is the city government’s responsibility?  Does code enforcement really inspect these places?

2.      We are fortunate to not have large burned out areas of our city. Land is used fairly efficiently inside New Circle.  This is a physical fabric for social unity, if we chose to respect that.

Yet I also sense that we have created mental barriers between our neighborhoods, especially between wealthier and poorer. It appears that we can just tune out conditions that exist very close to us. That will be a challenge to us as we move forward.  We ALL share this city.

3.      UK sports does bring us together – from north to south, UK rules.  We may unique in that for a city as large as ours, we are remarkably unified in our loyalty to the program.

4.      Lexington used to be a much different city than the one we know today. The population of the city doubled in the 30 years from 1950 to 1980.  Reading the architecture of the neighborhoods, it went from a tight knit, small scale set of neighborhoods that were self contained as well as focused on downtown, to a lopsided, auto-centric city focused primarily on the southside.

5.      We are a bikeable city! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  As I close in on finishing my goal, I can honesty state that most roads in the city are very bike friendly.  Yeah, the biggies, plus a few like Mason Headly, Stone Road, and Loudon to name a couple, suck.  Doable, but sucky.  But the great thing is that you can get basically anywhere in the city on side streets, which are safe and pleasant.  It wasn’t planned that way, but we have in effect a parallel system of bike routes on these side streets that we need to capitalize on to increase bike commuting. Stay tuned, I’m working on it.

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