Newport might be leading Rhode Island in Bike to Work Day on May 16 but the Westerly Sun’s leading Westerly to our biking destiny and I like it.
The editorial on May 14, “Let’s join Newport with Bike Westerly” might be what we need to get the pedals turning and this is why it makes sense here and now: Today Westerly just doesn’t have the infrastructure to get many people biking considering our main thoroughfare — Route 1 from the Pawcatuck River up to Dunn’s Corner — is seemingly designed to purposely repel biking, thus discouraging the mainstream, which is our target market.
No one needs to be Lance Armstrong (heck, turns out Lance Armstrong couldn’t even be Lance Armstrong) but we need to appeal to the moderately enthusiastic crowd that is concerned about: (1) Their physical conditioning (my friend’s exercise motivator: “You’re never gonna get the butt you want by sitting on the one you have”), (2) The affect fossil fuel usage is having on our planet (May 12 New York Times reported Antarctic ice sheet melting is unstoppable, causing 6-10 foot sea level rise in the next couple centuries), (3) Having fun and meeting new people with similar interests (glad to see the May 19 Front Porch News photo of the “SPOKE-N not SHAKE-n” team of 7 women touring New York City all holding their bicycles and having fun with the biggest smiles this side of Manhattan). Additionally, biking provides a great answer to the question everyone needs to be asking themselves: “What did I do to help the climate today?”
While I personally live the motto, “Eat to work, work to live, live to bike, bike to work,” biking just makes so much sense for Westerly — biking to work or otherwise, with our treasured Watch Hill and Misquamicut beaches an ideal biking distance from every darn place in this town. We’re an outdoor community, our population roughly doubles in the summer with the crowds not coming here to hang out in the laundromats.
Westerly’s strengths is the outdoors, the small town charm, relative affordability, access to anything you might need with our compactness making biking so ripe. Drawing on our strengths with your closing argument supporting bike infrastructure is absolutely worth repeating. “There is so much desire. Many feel it’s just the right thing to do. We clearly have the will. Now who will lead the way in finding the way?”
Newport and May 16 “Bike to Work Day” might be catalysts, but as your editorial so poignantly points out, let’s stop talking and start doing to establish a biking community in Westerly. There’s room for everyone regardless of gender, income level, physical ability, or personal history. The only requirements are an enthusiasm to enjoy yourself, be part of our community and make the world a better place.