McMullen: The bicycle’s popularity is wheeling around again

June 18, 2013

Citi Bike opened on May 27 as one of the largest bike sharing systems in the United States. Imagine an awful liberal dystopia where the landscape is littered with rows and rows of bicycles. Imagine pure communism in the form of accessible alternative transportation.

Just pony up some cash and one of these branded and blue bikes can be temporarily yours. Interested parties can purchase access to a series of bikes by the day, week or year. And despite my exaggeration some people have painted the Citi Bike program as though it was another symptom of that eternal nanny state even though it doesnít receive any city subsidy.

The bike sharing system that has seen success all over Europe has slowly but surely making headway right here in America ever since it was introduced to us by way of Portland, Oregon. Denver, St. Paul/Minneapolis and Washington D.C. have bike rental systems, just to name a few.

All right, so Sedalia isnít really the sort of thick urban space that would support a detachment of rental bikes but I think if we made some steps towards being a more bike-friendly city that it might help the cityís reputation among the young people who are still fleeing their hometown in droves.

I know people who love their bikes like movie cowboys love their horses. I know people who care for their bikes as though they were rolled steel children. They are the sort of people who have no intention of ever forgiving the people in charge of the State of Missouri for allowing the death the Tour of Missouri.

I know people who wear v-neck shirts, drink craft beer and spend significant portions of their free time either working on or riding their bicycles. And these are the sort of people that weíre going to have to court collectively as a city if we want Sedalia to survive and thrive.

The twenty something native Sedalian, with a fresh degree under his arm, has a decision to make. They might decide that they like the community that surrounds their alma mater enough to stay there for the long term. They might have some other city in mind ó the city that theyíve been dreaming about.

Or they might decide to come back to old Sedville ó and thatís when we must undertake certain initiatives to help them realize that Sedalia is a place worth coming back to and a place that is willing to try new things.

And Iím hopeful because not too long ago the City of Sedalia released a survey in which they ask the people of Sedalia about the ďbikabilityĒ of their community. It shows us that the city administration is concerned with the travel options of people who canít afford a car for one reason or another. Or the people who could have a car but choose to use a bike for environmental, health, or pleasure reasons.

The ability to travel is vital for improving oneís lot in life and I think Sedalia could do with a bike lane or two.

Now Iím not saying that Sedalia needs to ban the use of automobiles and force all of its residents to start riding bikes. Iím not even saying that there should be a bike lane on every road, or even a majority of roads. But I am saying that it might just help the cityís reputation as a modern community.

The bike might have come before the automobile, but itís coming back again. The future is full of people making their way to work and school utilizing vehicles of all shapes and sizes. And we might have to consider adjusting our transportation infrastructure to accommodate that.