Business First on Bicycling Commuters

(above photo of bicyclist and Humana employee Kirk Kandle from Business First.)

We missed it last Friday, but Business First published an informative, if brief, feature on bicycling commuters in Louisville. The piece begins with a profile of Jackie Green, owner of both Bike Couriers Bike Shops and a courier business:

The odds are that Jackie Green doesn’t begin his morning commute the way that you do.

Instead of piling into a car to fight the traffic, the 56-year-old Highlands resident bicycles four miles to his Bike Couriers Bike Shop, 107 W. Market St., and to a second shop with the same name at 2833 S. Fourth St.

“I leave the house and I hear the birds singing,” he said. “I feel the slight rise and the fall of the terrain. I’m more in touch with my neighborhood. I see my neighbors, and my neighbors see me.”

He’s one of a small but growing number of Greater Louisville commuters who have kicked the internal-combustion-vehicle habit in favor of their own leg power.

“The greatest alternative power we’re neglecting is human power,” said Green, who also co-owns and runs a bicycle courier service, Bike Couriers Inc. The company employs six bicycle couriers who make deliveries downtown, to Southern Indiana, the Highlands, the University of Louisville and parts of the West End.

Unlike some other recent pieces we’ve seen in both local and national media, the Business First article doesn’t have too much to say about conflicts between bicyclists and motorists, which is welcome in our opinion. While the general public needs to be aware of the issues, we feel that a lot of the recent talk of battles between the two groups is fairly overblown. (That said, the New York Times piece from August 8th — that we missed while on vacation — featuring Louisville resident Dan Cooley and his run-in with an irate Volkswagon driver is horrifying.) Anecdotally, we’ve had no problems commuting by bike recently, and it seems that no major accidents have been reported lately (the last two weeks in LEO Weekly‘s Inbox being the minor exception).

The Business First article profiles a few more riders, and also features a nice bit of dissent from two of them (including Green) on whether or not Louisville is a bike-friendly city:

Green gives Louisville pretty poor marks for bicycle friendliness.

“It is a bike-survivable town, and for me, that’s good enough,” he said. “I am an experienced and confident cyclist.”

But in its June 2008 issue, Bicycling Magazine named Louisville one of the nation’s “Top Three Most Improved Cities” for cycling, along with Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Kathy Schmitt, a regular bicycle commuter, agrees with Green. It’s hard for a cyclist to feel comfortable riding in Louisville, she said, mainly because motorists don’t respect them.

“People want us to be on the sidewalk,” she said. “They don’t know that’s against the law.”

As we’ve stated previously, we couldn’t agree more.

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