Blog: Heather Carmona

Heather Carmona is Executive Director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association and a life-long Detroiter. She is also founder of Pure, an organic product consulting and consumer advocacy company. Heather will be writing about the interdependence and relationship between quality of life, sustainability and community.

Post 4: Enjoying the Ride

I thought I’d try it. I’ve never done it before. Not in15 years at least. Ride my bike to work. So I did it one morning last week. I have a simple bike. The kind of you peddle backwards, you stop. No fancy brand, no fancy gears, tires or bells and whistles (actually I do have a bell). It was harder than I thought.

I admire people who ride on a regular basis. We’ve all seen them. The diehards. Peddling away rain or shine avoiding stares, glares and beeps from passing motorists.

7 miles that’s all it was. 3.5 miles each way. It took me 40 minutes. I rode the sidewalks doing my best to avoid construction, cracks, bumps, tree branches, water and cars (especially cars approaching intersections with no knowledge a pedestrian or cyclist possibly coming from the opposite direction). I noted areas where there were no approaches or areas in desperate need or repair.

The ride helped me slow down – literally and enjoy the ride and be aware of everything around me. The ride helped be reflect: how many times have I, as a motorist, crossed over a sidewalk with my car or come to the end of a block and look for oncoming traffic and haven’t seen someone walking or riding on the sidewalk? How many times have I been completely unconscious of things around me, whether it’s work or my personal life. Plenty of times. 

I learned how peaceful and beautiful an early summer morning is. I learned I made the choice to do ride of bike, many don’t have the choice. I will do it again. 

Efforts are underway to make Woodward Avenue more accessible and pedestrian friendly. Communities will soon be asked to adopt a plan outlining various criteria and guidelines for improving crosswalks. Communities that follow the plan and have ready projects will likely qualify for design and engineering funding through National Scenic Byway dollars. Some already have already qualified like the City of Berkley and UCCA. Many other ideas and efforts are encouraged, many of which Mark Nickita addressed in his previous blog posts, but is worth reading again if you haven’t already.  All in an effort to enhance pedestrian and non-motorized activity and quality of life. 

So, will I choose to ride my bike again especially on days when I have to dress for meetings, or it rains? Probably not. Because I know I don’t have to.  I’m sure there are many people who ride that don’t need to either. But, some people don’t have the choice.