Many of the routes that bicycle travelers take to ride across the U.S. go through the St. Louis area. Ferguson gets its share of people from other countries riding our streets on bicycles while passing through. A few years back a team of Irish bicyclists riding in the Race Across America got lost while coming through St. Louis and zipped in to the Ferguson Bicycle Shop to ask directions. This summer saw a few more international travelers come through our streets…
* * *
One of the first groups to come through were from Taiwan. This group consisted of three young men: two were Taiwanese and one was a U.S. citizen who is a missionary in Taiwan. These three had begun their trip in California and were preaching in various churches as they crossed the country. One of the churches on their schedule was the Ferguson Church of Christ. That’s what brought them here.
But what got my attention from a bicyclist’s point-of-view was that they had experienced sixty flats on their journey! 60! I don’t know about you but I might have been tempted to quit if I’d had that many flats on a trip. The fact that they were continuing on shows their level of determination. By the time they reached Ferguson they were experts in fixing flats! But they still stopped in to the bike shop to get advice on how to reduce the number of flats they were getting.
Not long after these folks departed, a young man from South Korea showed up in Ferguson. He had flown to Chicago, bought a bicycle, loaded up his gear, and pedaled to St. Louis. The big attraction of St. Louis to him was that Lewis and Clark had started their exploration of the West here. He wanted to follow their path up the Missouri River by bicycle. He also wanted to get some work done on his bicycle.
Of course while he was here he had to visit the Arch and the Museum of Westward Expansion underneath the base of the Arch. He also stayed with a local Warm Showers host. A few Warm Showers (http://www.warmshowers.org/) hosts live in Ferguson and that is part of the reason that long distance bicycle travelers choose to come here.
Why do people traveling by bicycle visit Ferguson? A variety of reasons: to get work done on their bicycle; to stay with Warm Shower hosts; to preach in local churches.
* * *
Sharrows. It’s a term that has a certain soft sound to it. Shared lane markings...not so much. But they both refer to the same thing. Sharrow = shared lane marking = a symbol of a bicyclist along with arrows painted in the street. “Shared lane markings” is the official term for these street symbols while “sharrows” is more of a slang term.
Most residents of Ferguson by now have seen them, possibly without even knowing what they are called or what they are for. Around eleven miles of Ferguson streets are being painted with sharrows.
Quite simply, sharrows make it easier for motorists and bicyclists to share roads. They remind motorists that bicyclists may be traveling in the traffic lane along with other vehicles. They encourage safe passing. They also influence bicyclists to ride in the same direction as traffic and help bicyclists with proper road position.
Sharing is good!
* * *
The crowd on South Florissant waiting for the parade to start on the 4th of July were treated to a bicycle race. Most of the crowd may not have even known it was a race. It probably just looked like a bunch of people on bicycles riding down the street. None of the racers were decked out in special gear. None were riding fancy bikes. And none were going very fast! On top of that, it’s not often that you see a race with two bicycles built for two (also called “tandem” bicycles) in it, but that’s what happened during the first edition of the Firecracker Dash.
We’re hoping and planning for the second edition of the race to feature some fast bicyclists...watch for it next 4th of July!
* * *
And don’t forget these opportunities to get out and ride in August:
- Sunday, August 4, 1-4pm: Sunday Parkways! Come out and play! The Robert-Superior neighborhood will be hosting Sunday Parkways and the route will go from the community garden to the site of the new community center. Ride on streets free of traffic and painted with sharrows! More info at http://livewellferguson.com/main/live-well-events/sunday-parkways/
- Saturday, August 10, 9am: Ride starting and ending at the Ferguson Farmers Market. One of our most popular rides last year was a trip to a coffee house near Forest Park. This ride will be a repeat of last year’s ride; if you missed it last year this is your opportunity...
- 50th Annual Moonlight Ramble – “The World’s Original Nighttime Bike Ride”, Saturday, August 17. More info and online registration at http://www.moonlightramble.com/.