I have lived in Houston since Sept. 2012 and traveled the streets of the city by bike the whole time, though not nearly as extensively as I have hoped.
I have shared my bike rides and also shared my thoughts on cycling in Houston...
"Houston, you are a huge ol’ place, you cover a lot of ground. You started small, but now you have grown so big that motor vehicles compete to make the loudest sound. It’s said you give bicyclists lots of space to ride around alongside bayous, large and small.
Multi-use trails do abound but I ask, is that all? Is that the only option for me to saddle up and pedal toward? Can I also safely share the road with motorists and trust my precious life on your many, varied, city streets?"
In Sept. 2013, In response to the article “Helping Mass Transit, Bicycles Work Together” (Houston Chronicle Print Ed.), AKA "Bike-bus syncing an uphill climb, but getting there", by Dug Begley, I wrote an essay from the perspective of a life-long bicycle commuter and user of mass transit who has never driven a car.
The piece was never published by the paper and I have no idea if Begley ever read it.
This morning I decided to do a long overdue re-write in honor of my cycling life in Houston.
The Streets of Houston: A Bicyclist's Lament
As I pedaled down the streets of Houston
As I rode down Westheimer one day
I spied a fellow bicyclist wrapped up in the Lone Star Flag
All wrapped in the Lone Star Flag as cold as the clay
"I see by your outfit that you are a fellow bicyclist"
These words he did say as I proudly rode by
"Come stop here beside me and hear my sad story
I was run over by a car and I know I must die"
"'Twas once in the saddle I used to go ridin'
Once in the saddle, I even rode Memorial all the way.
First rode alone, and then with a club
I'm run over by a car and I'm dying today
"Let six spandex-wearing cyclists come carry my coffin
Let six outspoken activists come to carry my pall
Lay helmets, headlights, and reflectors, around my coffin
Lay them as a reminder to one and to all"
"Oh, spread the word wide, and send a message bold
And ride alongside silently as you carry me along
Take me to Terry Hershey Bike Trail and bury me beside it
For I'm a cyclist and this is my song"
We will spread the word wide and send a message bold
And sadly remember those whose lives are done
For we all have lost someone, so adventurous, young, and old
This we believe; share the road everyone.
In June 2013 I asked this question... Ever feel like your batteries were alkaline, and not the energizer bunny brand either?
My answer still stands...
There is nothing like a long, leisurely, bike ride, for recharging one's batteries, even huntin' down creative ideas and inspiration out of the blue, as you train your mind on something you have been working on, or something new.
Whether 10 miles, or 4,141, the journey has the potential to inspire the writer in ways he, or she, might never imagine, while refreshing a body and spirit that possibly has recently been through a lot.
Over the past 15 years, I have taken bike rides of 45, 48, 66 (twice), and 81.60 miles (over 2 days) that, camera in tow, inspired me to creatively share those adventures. My rides helped me come up with ideas for new stories and poems, and even think through daily life challenges.
Positive change in one's life, personal, career and creative, in a minute is not made. I have done so much and been through so much, since moving to Houston in 2012, but as long as I keep my batteries positively charged I know I will continue making progress along the trail that my life journey is taking me on, where ever that is next.
The Houston area presents serious concerns for the recreational and commuter road cyclist, not the least of which are motorists who believe cyclists don't belong on the road and if they are even aware of it still ignore the local 3 ft. Please, share the road, law.
Stay safe out there, folks!