Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo.
Nothing, maybe, except inertia.
When former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson saw Chicago’s bike station at Millennium Park, a few years back, he decided Louisville should have something like it. He was absolutely correct. There are lots of great reasons every city should have facilities for cyclists who want to commute to work. I don’t have space here to begin listing all those advantages. They’re thoroughly documented around the world.
Yet the Louisville bike station plan seems to have stalled. Most recently our proposed station is pitched as an intermodal transportation center. After all, who wants non-cycling citizens to get the idea that a few bike weenies are taking over their city? Never mind that motorists for decades have taken advantage of billions of dollars in free and subsidized facilities paid with public funds.
Just take a look at the long list of cities with new bike stations for urban commuters and you’ll see the same list of cities attracting talented, active young people. They’re the cities with lively downtown streets, both day and night. It’s no coincidence. The bicycle is an icon. It says, “this city cares about health as your first wealth. We place a high priority on individual rights, freedom of expression and well being.”
It ain’t rocket science, but …
Most recently, St. Louis announced its plans for a Chicago-style bike station. Aerospace giant Boeing Corp. stepped up with $25,000 to help build the center, which is scheduled to open this spring.
“The plan for the building is to make it the region’s first bike commuter station, with secure 24-hour access, more than 100 bike racks, and showers and locker rooms for cyclists commuting to work Downtown,” the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.
The station will be next to a new 3,500 square foot full-service bike shop that will offer bike equipment, repairs and rentals. A nonprofit organization dedicated to creating more bikeable and walkable communities, is set to move into the building, too.
“Boeing is proud to partner with the City of St. Louis on this important initiative that promotes physical well-being, helps improve our air quality with fewer cars on the streets, and will create a more connected and vibrant downtown,” Dennis Muilenburg, head of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said in a news release.
Hey! Even the rocket scientists get it!
St. Louis landed a $181,600 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy last year to pay for the bike lockers and operating expenses for the station for its first two years. The city is managing the grant and the commuter station. Annual membership fees are yet to be finalized. Chicago charges cyclists about $100 per year.
The idea of a bike station in the heart of downtown Louisville is a powerful one whose time is now. It makes perfect sense. So, what’s the hold up?
Grace. Peace. Bicycle Grease.
PS: Remember, every lane is a bike lane. Share the road.
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Enjoy the ride home.
© Copyright, Kirk M. Kandle, MMXI