Saturday, March 15, 2014

Chapter Eleven Indianapolis, Pro-Bike Mayor and Greenway Heaven

Lucky for us, getting to and through Indianapolis, which at over 790,000 people is this country’s 12th largest city, would be a lot easier than my first time through in 1979 thanks to  Ray Irvin, aka, Mr. Greenway and Mayor Greg Ballard. 
Thirty years ago, Indy, as it is referred to by locals, offered nothing more than high speed roads on which shoulders were absent. In fact, the days of questions and map study that had led up it on my first ride across America, told me that the only way to get to the other side of Indianapolis, and the vast metropolitan area that it sat in the center of, was to go around it. In all, the detour that had resulted required an extra one hundred or so miles of travel.
Since 1990, however, much has changed. It was then that Indianapolis began its Greenway push with Ray Irvin. Once an Indianapolis councilman, and then the longtime Director of Indy Greenways, it wasn’t until 2008 when Irvin moved up to the state level in former Governor Mitch Daniels administration as the Director of Greenways and Bike Ways that Indianapolis knew what it had lost. In his easy, folksy way, Ray had kept everyone so busy, that most were blinded by the Greenway tidal wave he had them swept up in.
Through Indy Greenways (IG), the infrastructure Ray built for people power through several different Mayoral administrations, caused a whole new Indianapolis to emerge. So much so, that it is now a nationally respected leader in the Greenway universe.
Under Ray’s watch, with also the help of Indiana University, he had been able to document the rise in property values of those homes located in close proximity to IG's growing network of trails. This as the numbers of its users, even today, has not stopped growing. Many informal communities have also emerged in Indianapolis as people get out on to the IG pathways where they are no longer separated from one another by glass, plastic or metal.
Once a dying Rust Belt City, because of the still virile Indy Greenways that Ray has left behind, Indy has also witnessed a new vitality. It has become desirable to the class of people most American post industrial cities are just now realizing they need to attract in order to keep their economies growing. Called the Creative Class by noted author and economist, Richard Florida, this is the new generation of college graduates who work in high-tech businesses and knowledge intensive industries such as biotech, information technology and telecommunications. 
Such workers are drawn to those cities where thinking is not walled in by the noise of freeways or traffic choked streets. In the same way large computer employers attract the best talent by turning their places of employment into college campus like settings with walking paths, fountains and lawns, Indy Greenways has been working hard to turn Indianapolis into one giant university grounds.
Indianapolis knew back in the ‘80’s, that in a part of the country where there was no ocean to hear or mountains to wonder at, that to attract the new blood of a virile work force, that its main attraction needed to be its beautiful green spaces. Toward this end, then, it had to get them interconnected as well as more accessible. The many miles of trails that resulted now reach 56 parks, 24 schools, a zoo, a stadium, museums and three arts and cultural districts. 
Because IG also manages the bus lines and has a hand in bike travel in Indianapolis, its trail network is also inter-modal. In such a way, large employers, hospitals, libraries and most all-important destinations are all built into this exciting interconnected labyrinth. All of Indy’s buses and its 300 miles of signed on street bike routes interconnect with IG’s paved pathways making for a transportation system that functions quietly and efficiently in the background of a huge city at work. 
The low cost travel network it has built enables its minimum wage earners to safely and efficiently get to their jobs at its restaurants, hotels, laundries, movie and sports complexes, and all those businesses that just make a city run as well as fun. While far from a perfect bike route system, many are still usually able to get to and from their work without getting caught up in the traffic on the streets.
By making it easy and affordable for its service industry workers to get around, Indy also knew that since a lot of these low paying positions are entry level jobs, that these people would keep using Greenways as they moved up in their positions. And already this is starting to pay off for Indy as these people graduate into their careers or move on to more responsible employment and even start to raise families.
Nor did any of this urban renewal require that Indianapolis decimate blighted neighborhoods or undertake any massive reconstruction projects. No, not at all. In fact the bulk of the recreation and transportation corridors that it built for its population came from the same stock of land many American cities already have at their disposal. Indianapolis created a lot of its linear parks by laying a small ribbon of asphalt on its once unused flood plains and abandoned rail corridors. 
And it is here that Ray sees a way for other cities to build Greenways that can pay for themselves. He feels that underground utilities can be laid under them and that cities can charge a subterranean lease for this privilege. As such, digging up city streets every time a new gas, phone, sewer or cable line needs to be serviced would become a thing of the past
In making it desirable for people to get out of their cars in Indianapolis, so that he could begin building a Greenway consciousness, Ray had to fight against tradition. Founded as the state capital in 1821, Indy’s geographic presence in the center of the state has always made it a cross roads for travelers headed north to Chicago, south to Louisville, east to Cincinnati, or west to St. Louis.  With the help of the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad, Indy’s population swelled from 8,000 in 1850 to more than 169,000 in 1900. By the time car travel pushed this number to 314,194 people in 1920, it rivaled Detroit for America’s top Motor City honors. In fact, the Duisenberg, Marmon, National, and Stutz all had their car factory headquarters there. 
Indianapolis car culture became officially ingrained in the local consciousness in 1909 when 3.2 million bricks were used to build the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As we show you in the appendix when we discuss the Lincoln Highway, the racetrack was just one of former bike shop owner, Carl Fisher’s, many creations. The coast-to-coast road that he envisioned became a reality because he was able to call upon Indianapolis business leaders to build a nation wide momentum for his dream. Every year when its speedsters are in town and a great preponderance of city resources are dedicated to the racetrack, Indy keeps its place in the national consciousness as a city that takes its leadership from cars. 
This despite the fact that in the 80’s Mayor William Hudnut set the city on a different track when he began the work of establishing Indianapolis as the Amateur Sports Capital of America. Aided by nearly 60 million dollars from the patriarch of the Lilly Endowment, Eli Lily himself, there were many projects that issued from Hudnut’s mandate. Besides the new tennis and swimming centers, track and field stadiums and the football coliseum that resulted, the world class Major Taylor velodrome also got built.
However in going from a dying car city once known as ‘Nap-town’ and ‘India-no-place’, the one project that most benefitted from the new image that Indianapolis firmly established for itself at the local level, was Indy Greenways. It is this organization that Ray drove for many years that continues to make it not only safe but also desirable to not be in a car in Indianapolis. So much so that communities from all over the country come to Indy Greenways for guidance on how to improve the quality of life in their cities - with Greenways!! 
Nor is any of this awareness lost in Mayor Gregory Ballard’s Mayoral administration. In Indianapolis, Mayor Gregory Ballard was happily at the Depot, the replica of an Indiana train station that serves as Indy Greenway headquarters, to receive us.  
A 64th Street trailhead, it is on the Monon Trail, a 10-mile work of Greenway art that Ray deserves to be proud of. The Monon was the first piece in the growing 165-mile Indianapolis greenway network, a network that has a 326-mile master plan. An abandoned rail track and once a blighted wasteland eyesore, overgrown with weeds, refuse and the occasional rusting automobile, the Monon has inspired a new renaissance in how the local Hoosiers relate to their lands. 
Connecting a dozen residential neighborhoods with schools, parks, commercial districts and even the state fairgrounds, it is one of the busiest Car-Free pathways in the nation. Along the Monon, property values continue to far outpace those in the rest of the city as people find the adjacent housing to be some of the most desirable anywhere in Indianapolis. As the genuine community builder that it is, the countless informal neighborhood groups that use the Monon as an anchor, have made convivial exercise one of Indy’s predominant mantras.
While Ray has done a ton of work creating off-road infrastructure for his city, Mayor Ballard has moved mountains for those who ride his roads. In 2008, just as Ray was moving away from Indy Greenways, Ballard pushed the plan that developed the 200+ miles of bike lanes we were now able to enjoy. He also led the charge that resulted in a Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council and his city hired its first Bike/Ped coordinator. 
Under Ballard’s reign, the  Indianapolis Cultural Trail that Ray long had as a work in progress, quickly steamrolled into place. It connects cyclists with many areas of downtown Indianapolis. In seeing that their needs now had an ally in high office, IndyCOG, the local bicycle advocacy group, among other actions, created a cutting edge  bicycle map for the city.
In taking its lead from Ballard, the private sector is also teaming up with the city in joining the bicycle explosion that is taking place in Indy. The Indy Bike Hub YMCA, for example, was completed in the Fall of 2011. It houses secure bicycle parking for 148 bikes, a fitness center, lockers/showers, a bike shop, bicycle advocacy organization offices and the city's bicycle patrol unit. 
The group of men and women we rolled up to, were all dressed in suits and other office wear. In addition to Mayor Ballard and his staff, there were others there that were known as local Greenway shakers and movers. Familiar faces, I had worked with many of them over the years. Joseph Wynns, the director of Indianapolis Recreation, of which Indy Greenways is a part, was there. As was Ron Carter the Indy Greenways director who replaced Ray when he moved on to the state level. Even John Glick, the man who talked with me about his fixed gear bicycle rides to work as far back as 2002, was there also on behalf of the recreation department.
The others we had no way of knowing, moved their Greenway mountains behind the scenes. There were officials from firms who had done construction work on Indy Greenway trails as well as from Indiana State University. The college continues to supply Indy Greenways with the mountains of data they use to procure added funding for their trail building efforts. In a city driven by the needs of its Greenway, members of the Indianapolis Greenways Development Committee, a 15-person volunteer board of directors assigned to their positions by the Mayor, Council and the Recreation Board, were there. A representative from the Greenways Foundation, the charitable trust which finances the Indy Greenways operation gave added authority to our reception.
Ron Carter was all smiles as we rolled up to the group that had assembled.
“Martin,” Ron called. “You made it!”
Instantly though we’d never met in person, I know who he was from all the talking we had done on the phone as he and I organized this event. 
“Wow Ron,” I said as I worked my way off the bike to the amazement of most everyone present. 
“So that’s how you do it. I was wondering how you were going to get off that thing,” Ron said.
“Getting off is a skill just like getting on,” I replied. “And it looks like you’ve got a few Greenway friends!” I was happily impressed
“Well I figured you were worth it,” he joked. Pointing he continued, “Now why don’t you bring you and your team over here so we can get everyone introduced to our Mayor.
The 48th Mayor of Indianapolis, Gregory Ballard and I both graduated from Catholic high schools and then college at about the same time. However while I was busy recovering from a head injury and just trying to get to the starting line of a life where I could be productive, Ballard saw the world during his 23-year career in the Marines. A tall and strong looking man, the force of his character was apparent when he looked me in the eyes and said, “So Ron tells me you want to do what we’ve done here with our Greenways all across the US. From San Francisco to Washington, DC,” as he shook my hand.
“You’ve got it Mayor Ballard. That’s why we’re visiting you on this ride.” 
As the two of us exchanged pleasantries, the media pressed closer with their cameras and notepads. 
"So are you going to DC to call attention to some kind of Carl Fisher bike path you want to build from here to San Francisco?" a voice wanted to know.
"Whoaa, what newspaper are you with?" I asked.
"The Indianapolis Herald," his reply was matter of fact.
"I should make your talk to your book review editor then," I teased. "She asked me the same question when she was getting a story together about tonight's booksigning."  
Seeing that he was too busy taking notes to react, I was happy that he had given me this opening, "So like I told her, and I am sorry I can't remember her name, it is not a bike path but a coast to coast network of bikeable roads and paths that will connect cyclists to cities and the important destinations within those cities. And in time some of that will give way to a dedicated arterial for bikes but we gotta make it so cars and bikes can safely coexist in as many places as we can."
"In terms of strategy, we have determined that the best way to build this consciousness is to follow the same precedent that Carl Fisher’s Lincoln Highway set all the way back in 1913. As America's first coast-to-coast highway, it started out as a red line on the map. In his boldness, your native son prescribed a route from Washington DC to San Francisco back when most of the roads west of the Mississippi were no more than ruts in the weeds.
"And as they struggled to get it built, other roads and highways sprang up all over the nation. In time, the Lincoln disappeared into the numbered US highway system, much of which was then usurped by the I-80 that we know today. The example they set, however, is how I foresee us going forward. We're asking for a coast to bicycle highway at a time when dedicated bikeways are far and few between. And just as the people of the early 1900's thought that roads that extended beyond the city were only for the rich hobbyists of the day, we will be showing how we can rebuild America by connecting cyclists to its cities and all the important place within them.
"So just like Carl Fisher and Henry Joy did with their Lincoln Highway, that I show in the appendix of my book, we are going to keep promoting the San Francisco to Washington DC Mayors' Ride route. Heck after Fisher formalized his route with his 1913 cross-country trip, after World War I, they even got the US Army to take a convoy across the US on it as a kind of a victory march. 
“Instead of sending 72 vehicles, most of them heavy military trucks, across America to rally a sense of patriotism like they did, we will keep sending every day bike riders and not racer celebrities, to meet Mayors. All of this will get people more and more excited about reconnecting to their health, one another and to themselves with the Greenway we foresee."
Seeing that they were busy taking notes, I announced, “OK, so let’s get everyone together for a group photo. I know most of you are hammered for time so let’s get rocking with this.” Pointing I continued, “I say we all stand here”.
I walked up to Mayor Gregory and joked, “Mayor Greg we’re gonna make you the star today. Is that OK?”
He smiled back at me as I pressed on with my choreography, “Can we get all of you standing here to move closer to the front?”
I kept nudging and coddling until I had everyone in place. Soon, one of the Mayor’s staffers was snapping pictures. By the time Indianapolis NBG Day was complete, there were probably twenty of us celebrating the proclamation Mayor Ballard had prepared for us. 
The rest of the day, as Ron and I compared notes and took a closer look at some of his pathway projects, I began to realize something about what I was experiencing. If other cities put more of their people to work studying and building Greenways as well as using them and enjoying the enhanced quality of life they bring as they also grow richer at the bank, that they would all try to be like one another. That was how a coast-to-coast Greenway network was going to become real.
I knew I had work to do. I had to get the Indy Greenway story out there. Already I was starting to get ready for our next stop, Cincinnati. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How Folsom, CA Recreation Manager Sees the NBG


Handsome and fit, with a large view of the future, Lynn also saw the big picture of the National Bicycle Greenway. As an enthusiastic supporter of our mission and our yearly trek up the American River Parkway, he saw the NBG in its highest art form; what will happen once we get all of America’s bikeable roads and paths interconnected.

He and I had spent many hours talking about the NBG over the years. Lynn envisions a corridor similar to his Parkway that celebrates the natural, as well as the urban wonder of each of the areas though which it passes to connect the coasts. From his Parkway, he foresees rail trails joining hands with old logging roads and abandoned highways and the like to explore America’s forests, mountains, lakes, and even deserts as it moves across the West. 

In his mind’s eye, he saw, as the Lincoln Highway people did back in 1912 (see appendix), the reality of a red line on the map calling for a travel route from ocean to ocean. While the dream they fulfilled was for cars, Lynn knows the right of way from San Jose to Washington, DC, our annual Mayors' Rides are helping us determine, will one day make quiet, vehicle-free, cross-county bike trips possible. This as we extol all the natural and man made simplicity and wonder that meet our path. 

Interpretive in nature, the historical background of mountain passes such as the Mormon Immigrant Pass (discussed in detail later in this chapter) ahead, as well as those found in Nevada, the Wastach, the Rockies, and the Appalachians, will all be marked with tasteful signage that will make them fun to experience for those moving slow. The wonder of America’s bread basket will be explained. Even the Platte River Basin’s contribution to taming the West (talked about in the Omaha chapter), instead of being thundered through at interstate speeds, will be greatly savored by all those who use their own bodies to see the USA. The natural features we want to celebrate on the route we envision are endless

Where the NBG passes through all the urban areas in between wide open America, there will be wonder at hand there as well. Once again, signage and information kiosks will be hard at work along the many bike boulevards, we call, Neighborhood Greenways, that we foresee in cities small and large all along our route across America. They will tell NBG bikeway users where to go for food, lodging, fun and points of interest along the way. 

This as the route we will have chosen to most directly get across each of the population centers in question will establish the character  that sets them apart from one another. In order to do so, the National Bicycle Greenway will work to make sure our route will take in as much of the best each city has to offer as we can. This in the way of attractions, parks,  neighborhoods, traffic tamed shopping villages, places of learning, and whatever natural assets there are to be discovered, etc.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Our Vision of Two-Wheel Unity

Imagine being on one of  the many tree shaded parts of a  path that cycle tourists, bike commuters, those out for a family ride, and people of all ages, abilities and nationalities can come together on to  have their biking needs met. On the Greenway network we envision, hear laughter, the faint sound of gears clicking and birds chirping merrily away. And as you let your mind wander, feel the wind blowing on your face as you whisk away on a system of safely bikeable roads and paths that showcase the best of all those areas that give purpose to your wheels.

In the urban parts of this network, marvel at the quiet that soothes you as cities busy about not far beyond.  In the neighborhood parks you pass through  let the smell of fresh cut grass innervate your mind's eye you with all the ways people can use bikes to make a playground of this world. Once beyond the centers of population, allow  the   newly plowed earth in the farm fields that lie not far beyond, inspire  you with the sense of renewal that good biking infrastructure can bring to the quality of our lives.

And know that if you dare to adventure, the sunsets you can expect to see in the plains and in the deserts along your way will fill a sky so huge you will feel released from the world of limits. And as you are, your troubles will all fade into the nothingness from which they came. This as you celebrate the out of the box thinking that is helping  make the  biggest  of your cycling  dreams come true.

On our Greenway, besides being encouraged   to explore your imagination as you renew your connection with the planet, your brothers and with your body, your basic travel needs will also be met. Water and bathroom breaks will all be interspersed at intervals your legs can easily manage as will food, lodging, rest, supply and bike repair  areas. The regular incidence of mileage markers, info kiosks and interpretive signs describing the history or notable features of the various locales through which you pass, will give you the feedback you need to always know where you are at.

While all of the foregoing may sound too good to be true, for the last half century, we have regularly experienced the effects of the car's highest art form of utopia, the interstate freeway system. In numbers that are staggering, our  love affair with the automobile has divided neighborhoods, shattered lives,  slaughtered countless people and small animals, blighted cities, suffocated once fertile land and left in its wake a litany of environmental pejoratives so numerous they could fill books.

The cost to our mental well being has also been incalculable. As metal boxes plod along on America's freeways as a duty bound procession of lifelessness, the distance between all those encapsulated inside of them  continues to grow. Unwittingly, car drivers long have found themselves  pitted against against one another and the planet itself in what has been a daily exercise in survival, On this Nation's motor ways, as a result  of the way they were designed, the motorists on them can't help but implode the  sense of separation that they feel from the earth beneath their car seats and from their fellow man. It is this battlefield they  must leave behind when their cars deliver them to places where they shop, recreate, work or learn. Is it no small wonder that even well beyond the road, random acts of violence and other forms of indifference are so common place in America today?

In getting to this sad state of affairs, it was the motor industry's plan that backfired on them. In the '40's and '50's, their leaders  teamed with corporations and their lobbyists to get our country's resources, best human talent and billions of dollars committed to making their dream of a fast moving car utopia real. In the glorified name of "progress", 'if you build it, they will come' became the new mantra for the interstate freeways that much of the nation blindly rallied around.

And as we built what were supposed to be time saving  speedways  and all the infrastructure (expressways, boulevards, strip malls, transit hubs, parking lots, etc) that both support and connect to them  they gave birth to the sprawl (subdivisions and all of their underpinning) that makes the car necessary for all too many people. However, because many of us must travel further and further to and from the city core, our population centers are choking with the motor vehicle explosion the interstates that used to live at the outskirts have caused. And as freeways  grind more and more of  America to rush hour gridlock, we have sadly begun to accept the fact  that you cannot build your way out of all the congestion that has now resulted.

While few would disagree that it is the rampant use of the automobile that is now bringing about great damage to our well being as well as to that of the planet, few think the bicycle can reverse the downward spiral we are hurtling down. This is so because there is a core resistance in many parts of America preventing the bicycle from being seen as the serious problem solver that is needed here. Too many people still think of the driver's license as a right of passage into adulthood and the pedal machine as a toy that we must outgrow.

And yet this attitude is beginning to change. As the effects of climate change continue to doom our world with catastrophe, a green approach to living is becoming the accepted norm. More and more people are beginning to yearn for a way to keep up without the  automobile being at the center of their lives. While this is an every day reality in congested urban centers like New York City, where people thrive and flourish without their cars, this model needs to be replicated in cities, big and small, all across the country.

Once a critical mass of Americans then finally realize that the bicycle is the most practical as well as efficient user of human energy, then it's value as a tool that  can truly help rebuild America and the rest of the  world will be felt by our leaders. It will be this awareness that will declare war against all the atrocities we have committed against Mother Earth as it mobilizes our collective thinking for a completely different approach to life.

Just as General Motors bought out Congress with greenback dollars 70 years ago, here now in the 21st Century,  our elected officials will feel the strength of our will at the ballot box. They will help bring about the all new green economy a bike centric lifestyle will usher into form.

To keep our allegiance, our leaders will get in front of the ground swell of momentum that is forming  by overhauling the regulations governing  driver  education. By helping gain acceptance for cyclists on the road with with universal passage of the safe passing law, for example, where cars must give cyclists a minimum of three feet when overtaking them, the bicycle, which brought about America's first roads, will become their favored user and rightful king once again.

When our leaders lead, our educators our TV and radio personalities, even our publicists and public speakers, etc, all will feel called  to talk the kind of different talk that encourages the bicycle trip and not the car trip. And as they too  help to usher in the nirvana we foresee,  we, as a society, will evolve to both accept and support the changed lifestyle (clothing, fashion, dining and other activities, etc) that bicycle based traveling will bring about.

The ethers will be saturated with the call to reorient our priorities so that besides making our attitudes safe for pedal power, our schools, shopping areas, entertainment venues  and the workplace, etc, will all  favor the two wheel traveller. Instead of building parking lots and parking garages to attract automobiles,  these destinations will understand the logic of enticing the bicycle trip with everything from  bike racks to bike lockers, shower facilities, even discounted merchandise and services, and the like.

To help steer the direction of the two wheeled renaissance that is sure to result when our leaders get in step with the collective will, the NBG needs to be in front of the curve as this shift in consciousness begins to occur. We will be busy impregnating the National Mind with a  new kind of   'if you build it, they will come'. We want to empower the whole new breed of thinkers who will have removed the car from their own personal  transportation equations.

With a utopian  vision of our own, while the   network  we foresee free of motor vehicles becomes a reality in time, in the immediate, we will be busy calling for the retrofitting of roads so that they fit the needs of the cyclist. And we will be successful  wherever it is that we have helped to  make it possible for bikes and cars to safely co-exist with one another.

The massive growth of bicycling we are beginning to see in New York City, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco San Diego and Portland will continue to spread on the coasts. As  the changed lifestyle this brings about  sinks deeper and deeper into our collective character, it will spread even faster in big cities like Pittsburgh, Columbus, Chicago and Denver. Soon, its effects will also be visible  in more remote America.

Besides helping cyclists move about in the more populated city centers, as well as to and from them,  the NBG network  will also bring tourism back to a small town USA that the Interstates have abandoned in their quest for speed. One example is the Mother Highway, Route 66. The dying parts of it that have not given way to freeway, can be made a part of the NBG network and can create a whole new way of seeing this great land of ours. Already, cyclists are enjoying a small part of 66. Its  mile-long Chain of Rocks Bridge, that crosses the mighty Mississippi River  in Missouri, was recently opened on weekends to human power only.

As our  network becomes more accessible to more of America  and it becomes a transportation link in urban areas as well as a recreation paradise both outside and inside of population centers, as we saw with the intestates, its outer reaches will become less  and less inaccessible to human power. This as  all of the roads that access our Greenway are  made grand once again. As are all of the tiny towns along the way.

In the case of Route 66, for example, it doesn't have to be dedicated exclusively to bikes to stimulate bicycle tourism. All that will be required is that cyclists be made favored and welcome users. How? An eight foot wide bike lane can easily be added to both sides of its entire length.

The importance of generous breathing room for cycle travel at the edge of a road  can be seen on US 11 that runs from New Orleans to just outside of Washington DC. It is a favorite with knowledgeable bicyclists in the areas it serves because of the wide shoulder that runs much of its length. There are other such abandoned US highways all over America that all can be readily upgraded to become a part of the National Bicycle Greenway we foresee.

The roads we will have selected for our system will all be interconnected  to meet up with the great trail work that is being done all over America. Examples include  the C&O Canal path, that will ultimately connect Pittsburgh and parts north with DC. In the greater DC area, the many great trails and paths such as the Branch Trail network and Rock Creek Park that runs through much of the heart of the Capitol City, will all be tied into our system.

In the Midwest, bike roads and paths will connect to the Katy Trail in Missouri and with the great trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Natchez Trace Parkway , a beautiful motor way in the South, will be easily retrofitted to accommodate bikes and Florida's growing network of trails will also be made a part of our NBG network. While out in the West, the California Aqueduct that sends water from Northern California to the South and is already an approved bike route but is largely inaccessible because no bike roads feed it, will be plugged into our system as will the Santa Ana River trail that connects Los Angeles with the desert. In the Pacific Northwest, the beautiful Centennial Trail that connects Eastern Washington with Idaho will be made more accessible to the biking capital of Portland, OR.

The tremendous work that is being done by the Rails to Trails ConservancyAmerican Discovery TrailAdventure CyclingWABA; the East Coast Greenway and other such advocacy and trail building organizations will supercharge the vision we hold into a powerful form.

Inter-city and intra-city routes will be added to this system as we establish the main  overlay routes that connect all the states to our one main SF to DC route. In time, the National Bicycle Greenway will connect to all the sightseeing areas, city parks, schools, food, shopping and recreation locations within all of America's  big and small  downtowns When all of these trails and paths are linked to our system, public pressure will be brought to bear so that  more and more arterials are upgraded to meet NBG  specifications.

As the National Bicycle Greenway builds more and more worthy bike paths and cyclist-friendly roads into our network, in time, the beauty of America will be on hand for all who use their own bodies to see. This as the NBG changes both the physical and mental landscape of  America.

In getting to such a Promised Land,  we will feel called to let go of the  old tired engines that used to drive our economy  We will tax ourselves differently. Instead of using such funds  to build freeways, those monies will be used to build greenway arterials that serve the purpose of bike transportation.

In my book,  HBGR, I talk in detail about all the new sources of income that  will come about in a greenway and not a freeway economy.  These include:

Job Creation in:
- the huge new demand for bikes and their accessories
- bike maintenance and all the new trade schools that legitimize the bike mechanic career path
- construction of new lodging accommodation that  meets the needs of the bike traveler
- Greenway building industries  (construction of bridge crossings,  pathways and lighting, signage, kiosk and message boards, restroom, drinking fountains and food and drink concessions at car staging areas and all along bike way, etc)
- kiosk and message board advertising sales
- food and drink concessions (including super food & kombucha bars, etc.)
- Greenway hub centers, warehouse sized, where under one roof, bike community can come for classes and workshops, bike repair and recycled bike and parts sales, lectures, a reading room and juice bar, video screenings, social activities and camaraderie, etc.
- Greenway gift and novelty  stores
- new  cottage industries for makers of bike apparel and bike trailers, etc.
- shower stop and restroom upkeep
- bike parking & security
- bike taxis
- bike rentals
- Greenway Sherpa services
- bike mapping hardware and software

While the jobs created above can't be exported, and there is also much sales tax to be gained, our Greenway will  also make for a healthier USA as it speaks to the overweight epidemic that is gripping America today. And as exercise requires healthier foods, we will also spend  much, much less of our time and national resources on health care as we become a great nation, not dependent on other countries for their oil, once again.

We often hear the refrain, "Things are moving so fast, we need to slow down." A commitment to build the NBG network is a move towards restoring sanity, peace, and the needed well-being that is our birthright. There is a place inside each of us that knows the National Bicycle Greenway can make for a true heaven of this earth.

Having, since 1993 (here is some of the NBG media I have created),  pushed for a  network of bike roads and paths as far as I can while relying on volunteers  with limited staff through the nonprofit I have formed, in 2005, I began working on a business plan. Grounded in all the feedback and other data we have collected over the last two decades, in making  the National Bicycle Greenway real, I  feel we now know. what resources will be needed to do so. The over view for  how we would like to proceed as well as the finer detail of the actual mechanics can be found in my new book, "How America Can Bike & Grow Rich".

As the bold vision that it is, my book presumes a lot  In doing so, it takes inspiration from  the words I used to transcend two months in a coma, right side paralysis and clinical death to then do two bike rides across America, write books about these experiences and the NBG and win awards as a fitness leader. They come from the widely accomplished  German writer, philosopher, diplomat, biologist, and physicist, Johann Wolgang von Goethe, who in the 19th century said:
Whatever you you can do
or dream you can,
begin it.
Boldness has genius, power
and magic in it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lessons Learned from America's First Coast-to-Coast Highway in Building the NBG

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Greg Lemond, the R E A L American Bicycle Hero

Before Lance Armstrong's fraudulent cycling successes and subsequent meltdown  fall too far from our consciousness, here is an excerpt about Greg Lemond, the man he dethroned for a decade, from my book:

While many people know Reno as a weekend car get away for gambling and/or marriage, few know that it has deep bicycling roots. In fact, the man who re-energized bicycling in America, Greg Lemond, was groomed for bike racing by the same club whose outgoing president, Mike Damon, has long supported our National Bicycle Greenway efforts.

When, in 1976, at age 14 Lemond decided to take up cycling so
that he could improve his downhill skiing, it was the Reno
Wheelmen  that encouraged him to test his ability as a racer.
Soon,  Lemond  was placing near the top not only in their races,
but  in every race he could find. It wasn’t long before he was
burning up the California and then the national racing circuits.

Along the way, one of his biggest sponsors was Palo Alto
Bicycles, located here in the same city as the home office for the NBG.  In
1986, when Greg went on to become the first American to win cycling's
most prestigious annual event, the three-week, 2,000-mile,  Tour
de France, his success prompted many to take up the sport.

When he came back against long odds three years later to win
the Tour on its very last day, after first overcoming shotgun
wounds just to get to the starting line, he became a much exalted
American hero. His was a story of hope that touched the sick, the
old, the downtrodden, the poor and the rich as it brought people
from all walks of life to cycling.


And here is Greg kicking off a recent HiWheel race in Ohio:


Greg with HiWheel Legend Steve Stevens