I’ve noticed an interesting thing while out riding. Our trail system seems to have become the place to see other people and connect, (hopefully) at a safe distance. Our public meeting place, without meeting. We can’t congregate right now, but people still have the need to feel like part of a community in real life, not just virtually.
My Sunday ride took me out past Wabash. That part of the trail is usually very quiet. Not so this time. There were birders, horseback riders, walkers, and cyclists. Families and couples, small groups and solo trail users of all ages. People are driving out further and further to find less busy trail segments. 250th street seemed a popular staging area for setting out.
Walton was again a busy place. On the way out early in the day, I’d seen a gathering of people in costume cheering on runners in a “virtual Marathon”. I stopped to put my mask on there coming back as the trail promised to have ever more users all the way back into the city. I hadn’t had it on before then because it’s hard to eat or drink with a mask on.
One thing I saw that I’d never seen before along the trail was people playing music. I saw two guitarists along the MoPac. Also seen- a bin of cloth masks with a sign urging people to take one and wear it, excellent advice.
Going for a bike ride is one of the few activities families can do together right now. After this pandemic is over, how can we keep new users on their bikes? Will they realize that bikes are also good for doing short errands? Commuting? Going out for entertainment?
A new-to-me blog I recently read is asking the same questions. https://www.bikeshopgirl.com/blogs/updates/the-positive-potential-for-biking-after-social-distancing. This could be a real opportunity to get people out of their (expensive) cars and experiment with a different lifestyle.