Imagine me, a woman wearing bike cleats (elf bells dangling on toe tips) and green and red lycra, tap dancing wildly for you with flailing, sonorous foot stamping. Not to mention my jazz hands that occasionally juggle dreidels.
That’s me participating in the American Holiday Promotional Shuffle, for you. That’s right; during the Holidaze, there is a special from Into Action Publications for Cycling Sojourner and Hop in the Saddle.
I engage in the American Holiday Promotional Shuffle not only because I’m a business owner, these books make killer stocking stuffers, and I like tap dancing. Purchasing these books is good juju! You support local small businesses, bicycle tourism, the craft brew industry, and Oregon. Plus, a portion of Cycling Sojourner’s profit goes to the Community Cycling Center, a non-profit that aims to make cycling an option for everyone. Pass it on ; )
Melbourne, FL through Portland-colored glasses
What do you do when your family decides it’s a great idea to have a week-long reunion in the high tech industry, senior medical services community of friendly Melbourne, Florida? You utilize the couplers on your bike and drag it on the airplane with you. And you convince your father to do the same.
Even after scouring the interwebs for cycling info about Melbourne, I really didn’t know what was in store for us and our bikes. I thought you might be interested in what I found.
Even though this strip mauled, car-centric place hasn’t put much energy into the cycling/pedestrian infrastructure, there are a couple of awesome features in town. The causeway that connects Melbourne Beach to Melbourne has a separated track for cyclists and pedestrians. The terrain is flat, so there are lots of wide sidewalks which could be turned into a network for active transportation.
On our first day we made some erroneous choices, like taking Hwy A1A (with Vanilla Ice’s hallmark song stuck in my head) where there was sometimes a shoulder and plenty of traffic. After talking to a lovely local guy at Infinity Bike Shop, we headed for S. Tropical Trail.
This road is on a thin finger of land in the ocean, where you can peer at the sea on either side with a turn of your head. On the wider sections, houses can fit on both sides of the road. The introduced speed impediments make this residential road unappealing to car traffic, and simultaneously serve as easy fodder for seventh grade humor.
However, to get to this idyllic road, there was no option but to navigate through a transportation landscape that has little concern for cyclists. That means we were relegated to sidewalks much of the time, a perfect recipe for making a Portlander indignant.
Melbourne isn’t a particularly thriving place; tourism in this seaside town has dropped. Looking at the city through Portland goggles and the bike tourism lens, it seems like a shame they haven’t invested in alternative transportation infrastructure.
As a guidebook author, I see potential. There are already a couple of really nice bike/ped features in the area, it’s pancake-flat with good weather, plus there’s a cute little downtown and easy access to beaches. With some investment in infrastructure and marketing, I think a place like Melbourne would find hefty payback, both from the perspective of tourism development and benefit from active transportation (increased healthiness, less spending on gas and more spending at local businesses, livability points).
During my time in Melbourne on a bicycle, one of my favorite parts was the way cyclists and pedestrians always said hello to each other. Unlike Portland where they are a dime a dozen, those who walk and pedal are more of a rarity in Melbourne and therefore enjoy a strong camaraderie.
At the bike shop, we heard plans that the cycling club in Melbourne was trying to put together a cycling map for the area. Spearheaded by hobbyists, it is taking a while to get done. But it shows that the cycling enthusiasts in Melbourne are scrappy. It would be fun to see the area live up to its potential. Go Melbourne!