DON'T FORGET TO LAUGH
Joggers, Cyclists, and Those Distracting Shorts
Okay, a new mayor has been elected. Now, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room.
Yep, that’s right. We’re going to discuss our overcrowded streets.
Seeking professional advice on this subject, I went to the expert, Ms. U.N. Dewhey, chair of the Southeast Transportation Operations Program, STOP.
On a recent sunny afternoon, I had the pleasure of riding shotgun with Ms. Dewhey in her red Mustang convertible. As we cruised along with the top down and bugs in our hair, she said “Look, it’s quite simple. Roads were made for cars. Cyclists and pedestrians saw a good thing and decided they wanted a piece of the pavement action for themselves.”
“Now, the streets have become congested with a crazy mix of people and wheels,” Ms. Dewhey continued. “We created separate bike lanes for the cyclists. But they’re not working. Even if bikes ride single-file, they have to dodge trash heaps and parked cars. Plus, the darn joggers are in the road.
“If the joggers move from the street to the sidewalk, they risk shin splints and stepping on a crack and breaking their mother’s back. We need to get those skinny people in their running shoes out of the way. An indoor treadmill sounds perfect. This is why STOP will cover the cost of a gym membership for any pedestrian who signs a pledge to stay off the roads and sidewalks. This includes all kinds of foot traffic: walking, jogging, skipping, or hopping. If someone breaks this pledge and is caught with feet on pavement, they will be slapped with a $500 fine”
Leaning forward, Ms. Dewhey points to a slim blond pushing a sleek stroller down a side road. “Why in the world do young mothers feel compelled to stroll their babies about town? The kid isn’t going to remember a bit of it. Why bother?
“Joggers look silly,” she rambled on, “like they just committed a crime and are trying to get away. And it really peeves those of us stuck in traffic when they run past us like we’re sitting still. Well, actually, much of the time, we are sitting still. But that’s beside the point.
“Oooo, I have to admit there’s one exception,” she cooed. “I like watching the groups of shirtless young men run together. With their tousled hair, they look like wild mustangs. When the sun glistens off their bare chests, it makes me wish I was 18 again. Sigh.”
After a few miles of silence, my driver regained her composure. Under this plan, which we call ‘Runner Be Where?’ cyclists ride on the sidewalks. Cars will, once again, have the road to themselves, as it should be. It will be good to get bikes out of the way. Besides, those tight shorts are so distracting to drivers. I cannot tell you the number of times I almost plowed into a car because I was watching those firm thighs pumping those pedals as I drove by.
“Oh yes, and it will be illegal for anyone under 18 to be on a bicycle. Sure, it’s cute to ride with your 2.5 precious children to town and get some ice-cream. But, how many of us remember scraped knees and palms pitted by gravel from falling off a bike? All of us! Do these kids not have video games at home they could be playing?
“Besides,” she continued excitedly, “you buy your kid the perfect bike, after several tries, he’s pedaling by himself. Then he stops to eat a grilled cheese sandwich, comes back out, and BAM, he’s outgrown it already. Sure, you can raise the seat, but that only buys you another 3.7 seconds. You hate to waste a perfectly good bike. So, there’s only one thing to do…have another kid. See, that’s why cyclists crowd the road and the planet.
“We need to warn parents about the dangers of putting a child on a Big Wheel or other tricycle. These are what we refer to as “Gateway” vehicles. Years later, the kids have moved on to the hard stuff. They become rabid cyclists with colorful shirts who just have to do their 68,000 miles every weekend or bust. These are the ones who will wear out our sidewalks,”
Calming down, my driver moved on to Plan Two called, ‘No Time Left for You’. “Think of it as a timeshare for the road,” she explained. “Obviously, cars get the rush hours to and from work. That is 5:30 to 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. Add lunch hour, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday, we have Lowes, Home Depot, and lake traffic all day long. Sunday, there is church, families visiting, and more lake traffic. So, cyclists will be allowed to share the road between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. on weekdays that begin with an ‘S’. See, It’s quite simple.
“‘Roll ’em, Roll ’em, Roll’ em,’ is what we call Plan three,” Ms. Dewhey concluded. “It is rather drastic: Get rid of the cars. We will block all roads leading from interstate 77 between Charlotte and Troutman. All automobiles must be parked and left at designed lots. Everyone has to travel from there on foot, bike, or skateboard. It will be like living in Williamsburg, Disney World, or the Tour de France. Personally, I hate this plan. Why would I want to get out of my beautiful car and walk?”
Unfortunately, our conversation came to an abrupt end when Ms. Dewhey steered her car into a lamppost. It seems a cyclist in “those shorts,” riding in the opposite direction, had caught her eye. I didn’t have time to give her any feedback. Then I realized these plans need the input from all the people. So, let us know how you feel.
Please reply or send us an email. Be sure to let us know what town you live in, so we can pass the information on to the appropriate commissioners and king or queen of your community. Working together, we can kick the elephant out of the room and reclaim our streets. Thank you.
Carol Wilber Bradfield is one of those "Lake People." She snuck into Davidson many years ago when someone left the gate open one night. If seen, please approach carefully and give her a hug... and cash if you have it. Lots of cash. Thank you.