MORE BIKING IN THE APPLE CAPITAL
• For more on road biking and routes in the Wenatchee area, visit justgetout.net
WENATCHEE — Before more people commute on bicycles, we must learn from current commuters. So here is my advice.
I have actually found myself commuting more than once a week because I enjoy riding outside with a breeze in my face. I smell flowers, hear birds and roll alongside the Columbia instead of feeling confined and polluting.
But I had to overcome some significant social hurdles. People would see my ‘helmet hair.’ I would be wearing bicycle clothes. They would see me sweat. I cut my hair short. I hide my helmet and wear clothes that look normal. And I do not sweat because rides to meetings are downhill.
I do not feel as safe as I do clicked in my lumbering SUV, but slow riding makes me feel safer. I not only spot dangerous washouts and unexpected cars, but also breathe through my nose to avoid bug snacks.
Flat tires scare me. The guys at Second Wind put a rubber shield and slime between my tread and inner tube to plug leaks. A mechanic said, “Pull out a thorn and rotate the tire so slime seals the hole.” They also mounted a small air pump with a wrench. My wife, Karen, just carries her cell phone.
Drivers have been respectful. They swing out wide and wave me through intersections. The scary exceptions are motorists on Ninth Street turning onto Sunset in front of riders crossing to and from the pipeline bridge.
Communities are just starting to accommodate bikers. I do appreciate bike lanes where Eastmont was widened. Better yet are developments such as Briarwood that have paths through cul-de-sacs leading down to Eastmont.
Oh, for more commuters. I felt safer bicycling in Chinese streets filled with droves of commuters. There we saw lots of commuter bikes, also called “utility bikes.” They have motors, wider seats and storage for live chickens. They have step-through frames, reduced maintenance brakes and guards to protect clothing. Some fold in half.
Support bicycling so all of us have healthy, quick and safe commuting. And keep up the support because changes to enable significant usage might take awhile. Meanwhile, help us stay safe and join us once in a while.
Bike communter Jim Russell lives in East Wenatchee. This story first appeared at WenatcheeOutdoors.org.