Back in 2011, CityBeat spoke with downtown resident Jeff Beyer, a guy whose primary mode of transportation is his bicycle, to find out what life in Cincinnati is like for people who don’t have cars. Beyer described the psychological and logistical freedom bicycles allow, along with an aversion to paying for gas and the fun of riding to Reds games at the last minute and chaining his Mongoose to a fence in time to see the first pitch. He also said he would like to see marked bike lanes on every major street — infrastructure that other cities have proven helps keep cyclists safe and drivers aware of their bicycle friends on the road.
Beyer still lives downtown and still doesn’t have a car. He got car-doored and crashed into a parked bus the other day, though, so we thought we’d check in and see how things are going in his two-wheeled world.
CityBeat: So, how have the past three years been for you personally? Would you say Cincinnati has become any more or less bike-friendly?
Jeff Beyer: Well, I’ve gotten married to an every-day driver, quit a part-time tutoring job in Montgomery and got a new part-time job downtown. I’m still teaching English as a second language and riding my bike to both places of employment as well as to my lazy car-owning friends’ houses. Overall, I think Cincinnati has become more bike-friendly. There are more bikes on the roadways, more bike lanes to accommodate them, more news stories about loss of lane space and more artist-designed (though mostly non-functional) bike racks. I take this as a good sign.
CB: Tell us again why people should consider using bikes as a mode of transportation rather than viewing them as only for recreation. Adults in many cities even ride them to work, no?
JB: Well, besides the obvious health benefits, there are the costs saved by not paying for gas, insurance, parking and maintenance. Most idiots can repair a bicycle; I should know. By the way, did you know that the amount of materials required to construct a bicycle are just a fraction of those needed to build a car. It’s true! So we can save all that iron ore to build rockets to transport a privileged few to Titan after we’ve made Earth uninhabitable. Speaking of that, you can greatly reduce your CO2 emissions. Climate change…
Actually, as far as the adults thing is concerned, what’s most important is the social aspect.
Most adults are already pretty inept socially, and on top of that they rarely talk to each other when isolated in their cars. On a bike, however, there is much more opportunity for communication with other cyclists. I think I read somewhere that the more isolated people are, the more selfish they become. All power brokers and resource dealers should be required to ride a bicycle to their jobs. This includes people like CEOs, oil moguls and Dick Cheney, who was actually both of these. Here’s a fact: Dick Cheney has driven a car for much of his 73 years and he justified water boarding and the systematic revocation of human rights in America, whereas Gandhi walked or rode his bike seven miles to his office during his stint in South Africa and he acted and suffered for peace and restorative justice worldwide. Who do we want our adults to emulate: Mahatma Gandhi or Drippy Dick Cheney?
CB: We heard you got hit by a car and bus the other day while riding up Main Street. What’s up with that?
JB: I dunno. I had an appointment in Northside, so I was trying to catch the No. 19 Metro, which was on my immediate left. I was riding next to some parked cars on my right, and a guy who’d just parked car-doored me. He didn’t look and just opened his door right in front of me. I had no time to stop, so I just tried to squeeze between the door and the bus. Unfortunately, I slammed into his door and then into the bus pretty hard. It bent my front wheel into a taco and I got some pretty nasty bruises on my hand, arm and shoulder. I was riding pretty fast, but he didn’t look out, so it was both our faults… No, nevermind. It was his fault. I take no blame. People, please look behind you before opening your car door. Don’t be a Dick. Dick Cheney doesn’t look before he opens anything: cans of worms, Pandora’s boxes, fire when duck hunting and car doors… especially car doors.
CB: Many drivers in Cincinnati don’t realize that bicyclists are supposed to “take the lane” — ride in the middle of their lane to increase visibility to motorists. What’s with all the ignorance?
JB: Well, this is just one more sign of the entitlement mentality in America. We’ve got these highway-lobby queens out there tearing up the roadways, sitting in their spring-cushioned seats, waiting for their next lane expansion or pothole-patch handout. Luxury sedan drivers, F-150 enthusiasts and Jeep Iroquois Cliff Smasher pilots alike all expect that my tax dollars should be redistributed to them just so they can burn up the asphalt that my hard-earned money goes into replacing. What’s even more nauseating is that they don’t recognize that I built that. This is the 47-percent of takers that Romney was talking about during the 2012 election. I blame Obama.
CB: Mayor John Cranley recently paused a plan to build a fairly progressive piece of cycling infrastructure — a highly visible blocked off bike lane — on Central Parkway. What are your thoughts on the mayor and Vice Mayor David Mann suggesting sidewalks as a viable alternative to riding on the road even though that’s way more dangerous?
JB: Since being reprimanded by one of Cincinnati’s finest about a year ago, I rarely ride on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for pedestrians to walk on and spit all over, apparently. I’m not sure about that business over on Central Parkway. The owner doesn’t want to lose his parking, but I don’t want to ride the four-mile wind tunnel that is Spring Grove Avenue. Nor do I want to get car-doored by an inconsiderate parker again, either. Does Mayor Cranley ride to work? Does he know that the sidewalks on Central are riddled with glass and large debris around the Brighton area and feature something similar to plate tectonic effects on the stretch toward Camp Washington?
CB: Have you ever ridden on one of the suburban trails the city is planning to invest more money in? What’s up with those?
JB: I don’t think so. There used to be one in Dent. It might still be there. It went in a circle. There was a Meijer and a Kohl’s across the street. Those are good places to get some inexpensive produce and neoprene bike shorts. I don’t wear cycling gear, though, and I prefer the more expensive, lower-quality produce at the downtown Kroger, so I don’t go to Dent. Apparently, Loveland has a bike trail. But the Metro doesn’t quite make it there. And as far as that goes, it is only during working hours. So, I guess I will never see that one. Do they have a Kohl’s out in Loveland?
CB: Any final thoughts on what Cincinnatians should hope to see in the coming years aside from actually following the thoughtful bike plan the city created in 2010?
JB: Fewer car wrecks. More bike treks. Also, a prediction: Western Hills Plaza will become a velodrome and a year later become a Blockbuster Video. ©