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I Love Riding in the City

NAME: Moshe Cohen
LOCATION: Baton Rouge, LA
OCCUPATION: Grad student and work with Baton Rouge Advocates for Safe Streets

Where do you live and what’s it like riding in your city?
So you’ve never heard of Baton Rouge, LA? It’s around where the laces start on the shoe-shaped state. It’s flat here, and except for the daily 2pm downpours during the hot and rainy season, the climate is conducive to cycling year round. The mayor just tripled our bike facilities in town, so now we’ve got sharrows on all of our favorite neighborhood cut-throughs. The parade culture of Louisiana (including Mardi Gras and other festivals) and small-town feel of the city make for friendly neighbors waving to you from their stoops. Just as long as you stay away from the stretches of major thoroughfares that spiderweb across the city. They’d better get used to us soon, cause we’re here to stay!

What was your favorite city to ride in, and why?
NYC’s grid system makes it easy to get around—riding on marked bike lanes or not. Taking my bike onto the subway—or onto the Max in Portland, OR—is pretty convenient, too. I once got “Yeah, Bike”d riding through a neighborhood in Portland, and no one can argue with their great facilities and culture. The Yellow Bike Project in Austin, TX hooked me up with a great pannier made out of a kitty-litter bucket, but their on-the-street bike facilities didn’t make me feel any safer than riding on the streets of Baton Rouge—where I have my biking friends, bike-friendly restaurants/bars, and a growing bike culture that’s on the move with advocacy, alleycats, and polo! Let us know when you’re dropping by to check it out for yourself, and be sure to pick up BR’s monthly bike calendar at a local coffee shop or bike shop.

Why do you love riding in the city?
When I ride in the city, my bike is my destination. It doesn’t matter where I’m going or what path I take. People ask me where I ride, expecting me to answer either our great mountain bike trails or the velodrome or River Road where the lycra crew trains. Instead I tell them my bike gets me around. They seem bothered to think that I’ve gone through “all that work” biking just to get to the bars or the weekly farmers’ market downtown, but just thinking about getting in a car bothers me! Especially since that’s no way to see a city—speeding by and missing everything interesting.

Or just say whatever you want about riding in the city… Poetry anyone?
Thanks for sponsoring the Tour de Rouge messenger races for Bike Month 2009! Here’s a little something I wrote for you guys:

A Eulogy for Bicyclists

Had we valves for our spirit, a gauge for our soul,
we might better hear it: the calling towards whole.
We’d pump ourselves up to make sure that we’d roll.

Had we debonair bike bells for car horns and curses,
we might share ourselves more, stop crying for hearses,
and ring out our sorrow in jubilant verses.

Had we shifters and brakes for the ups and the downs,
we might give what life takes with more smiles than frowns,
and coast with momentum, not fearing the ground.

Had we eyes on the back not the front of our head,
we’d not see the lack, or the loss, or the dread,
but the miles we’ve traveled together instead.

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