July 4th and Bikes

For the July 4th holiday my family and I traveled to Virginia for our annual pilgrimage to visit family.  We go to Cape Charles, VA where my family has a house on the Chesapeake and where Megan and I taught highschool math for a year.  It’s a small town that gets busy in the summer, especially around the 4th.  The town puts on a good show and is very typical of small town Independence Day Americana with horseshoe contests, beach volleyball, funnel cake, a parade, and lots of bikes.  I think I saw more bikes here this year than in previous years and one of the reasons may be that the town has been taking small measures to promote bicycling and make it feel safe for riders of all ages.  During the festivities the busy sections of town are closed off to auto traffic.  This is a cue Mobile could take for many of its public events, especially during Mardi Gras where the city doesn’t seem to mind mixing alcohol, lots of pedestrians, children, parades and auto traffic.  In Cape Charles the business owners have placed a lot of bike parking at the restaurants, shops and town destinations such as the fishing pier and public gazebo.  The town sponsored parade included a bicycle contingent with kids and adults.  There was even a girl selling ice cream from a specially configured tricycle.  Wow, bikes everywhere.  And you know what else I noticed?  From my own unscientific observations the obesity levels were substantially less than what you would find in Alabama.  Maybe the promotion of casual riding is one ingredient in a greater recipe to fight problems with obesity and make places more livable.

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Bike styles were dominated by cruisers and folding bikes.  I probably saw over a dozen folding bikes.  I asked some owners about this and all of them were boaters who traveled to Cape Charles by sea and liked the folders for the small amount of space they took up on the boats.  Clever!  I know folding bikes are pretty solid these days and are also used for touring as well as casual riding.  There were bike baskets for the shoppers and toters en masse.  The boutiques were plenty busy selling t-shirts, sunscreen, trinkets, etc. and the customers were tossing their purchases in front and/or rear baskets.  Citizens going about their day on bicycles.  It was an awesome sight that should and could be promoted at the neighborhood level and beyond in larger cities.

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