|24th Ward Alderman Scott Ogilvie|
My mom was visiting too, and was by far the oldest person in the room. But she shared stories of biking in Boston almost 40 years ago and how she knew it was too cold to bike to work that day if her nose hairs froze on the way to the bike shed behind her apartment. Everyone was welcome.
Spoked was hosting a happy hour principally to celebrate the huge success of painting buffered bike lanes on Tower Grove Avenue ahead of the closure of the largest north-south thoroughfare in the city, which will divert traffic to Tower Grove and other detours—this effectively preserves my only route for cycling to work.
Scott Ogilvie , the alderman for the 24th ward and an avid cyclist, leapt up on the counter to welcome everyone and entreat us to be active advocates for biking in St. Louis. He introduced Matt Wyczalkowski, the man who led the fight to stripe Tower Grove before the Kingshighway closure. Matt told us how he had used Tower Grove to commute to Washington University for years and felt passionate about this short mile that is so crucial to bike commuters in the city.
I owe Matt two years worth of my biking commute: hundreds of hours worth of both pleasant and difficult exercise that starts and ends my working day.
Matt took questions and I asked him, "What's next for you?" His response was to ask me the same, and to point out how focused determination on a finite problem can lead to real results. His pet project was expediting bike lanes on a short stretch of his local street. If each of us in the room that day found our own tractable issue and pursued it by building coalitions of neighbors and friends, we could accomplish the same.
In my former neighborhood of Skinker-DeBaliviere, this takes the form of the Des Peres bicycle boulevard that improves through-access for cyclists over cars and has highly-visible markings to encourage more relaxed biking.
The owners of Spoked, Matt and Shane, also encouraged us to be advocates mainly by getting on our bikes and riding. Improving the visibility of the cycling community, they said, attracts the attention of neighbors and local leaders so they can internalize how vital it is for our city.
Somewhat unexpectedly, this event became the highlight of my week and a resounding lesson in the power of local politics that, I believe, lifted up everyone in attendance and left us all feeling energized and ready to act, alone and together, to make our home better.