Don’t Fence Us Out
There’s a kerfuffle going on at my workplace. Just in time for Bike to Work Week, the route we’ve cycled for many years has been fenced. Catholic Cemeteries of Northeast Kansas has uncharitably blocked access to its central Topeka graveyard by fencing out the joggers, cyclists, and walkers who brought the grounds alive with their presence. Now, the neighborhood kids won’t laugh at each others’ jokes as they pass through on their way to school. The sweet little old lady will have to find another place to see the sun rise while walking her dachshund. The cemetery will belong to the dead.
Did the cemetery staff know this when they ordered the fence? Did anyone observe the wear patterns in the grass and consider how this would affect the long-term health of the grounds and the living beings who used it? Perhaps they did, and decided the cyclists and walkers were part of the problem. Sadly, that seems to be a common perception: if you’re not in a car, you must be up to no good.
After an initial exchange of annoyed emails, my coworkers and I began plotting out a new route to work. There is no way we’re going to be kept from cycling, ever, but especially during Bike to Work Week. Yesterday I rode the new way for the first time and found, to my surprise, it’s actually a more pleasurable trip. It’s over a mile longer, but avoids a busy intersection that always made me nervous. There are two new ponds to enjoy on misty mornings. There’s also a new, long hill to make the muscles a bit stronger, but that’s a small price to pay for the privilege of biking to work. Funny how clouds can have silver linings.
Happy Bike to Work Week!