Friday, April 29, 2005

The Doldrums...

Sometimes writing is hard. It’s a painful, wrenching task that offers no joy, no happiness, and no reward. I hate times like that, and I’m going through one right now. Writing is not appealing. Work is just something to occupy my time, and even riding my bike is a chore. When I get out of bed in the morning and the prospect of riding to work fills me with dread, it’s not going to be a good day.

My enthusiasm and my ideas ebb and flow. Sometimes writing is easy. The words almost flow through my fingertips onto the page. It’s magical. Whole columns seem to write themselves with little effort on my part.

Days like today are the low points, of course. I still ride to work because we have only one car, and my daughter uses it for school. Taking it away from her simply because I’m feeling depressed and lazy just wouldn’t be right.

Besides, there’s always someone out there is in a worse situation. For instance, I’ve been reading the Riverbend blog written by a woman in Baghdad. She writes about not having dependable electricity or sufficient potable water. My whining, moaning, and writing are pitifully small concerns by comparison. There’s nothing like a little perspective.

But there have been a few things worth mentioning this week even though I haven’t posted daily.

On Tuesday, I attended a meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Group, a subcommittee of the Transportation Committee at INCOG, the Indian Nations Council of Governments. INCOG does the regional transportation planning for the area around Tulsa, and the BAG provides feedback and advice on bicycling issues. In short, the Tulsa trail system and the on-street bicycle route program are proceeding. I’m particularly excited about the on-street program, because it’s designed to link neighborhoods with popular destinations like parks, shopping areas, and employment. Tulsa’s trails are nice, but they have limited utility value in that they don’t link neighborhoods with those many of those other destinations. The trails are primarily recreational. But if T. Boone Pickens is to be believed, gasoline will reach the $3/gallon level before the end of the year. We’ll have many more cyclists on the roads.

Other topics were: Bike to Work Days, Commute Another Way Day, and some legislative news. The BTW and CAWD draw a lot of cyclists in the downtown area, though we’d all be happier if the numbers were bigger. And in legislative news, INCOG staff will compile a list of area bicycle laws. As you go from one municipality to another, the laws change, particularly the mandatory sidepath law. Uniformity would be nice.

We have another Road1 class coming up soon. I have to get a Community Cycling Project bike overhauled before the class. Sandra has a nice mixte sitting in her garage that will most likely be the one I work. I’m planning to take the repair stand, some tools, and a wheel-truing stand to the class in order to work on bikes there and provide demonstrations for the students. Brian Potter and Gary Parker are teaching this one. Brian said I might do the repair lecture too.

This touches on one of the issues we discussed at the INCOG meeting too. The Community Cycling Project provides bicycles as transportation to Exodus House clients, non-violent ex-offenders who live at Exodus House as they re-enter society. We provide the Road1 class in order to allow them to use their bicycles for everyday transportation. But as is usual with such programs, funding and volunteers are scarce. Someone is pursuing grant money for us, but that’s somewhere off in the future. Sandra estimated the instruction, bicycle, and accessories cost the program around $200 per client, most of it covered by donations.

So here’s the pitch – if anyone has a couple thousand dollars or even a few hundred thousand lying around gathering dust (as if!), send it our way! Seriously though, if you’re in the Tulsa area and you’re interested in bicycle advocacy, we could use volunteers even more than money. There are seldom enough hands for the work.

(I’ll be riding into a stiff headwind on the way home tonight, and it’s unseasonably cold. That usually means leg cramps, and enough Icy Hot to make my eyes water!)


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