I was back in Ogden today after a whirlwind 36 hour trip to Chicago. I flew there to meet my daughter and help her drive back to Utah. My wife and I didn’t want to roll the dice and hope she made it across Wyoming alone as the weather on the High Lonesome can be quite unpredictable this time of year. As it turned out, it was beautiful, if a little windy. When isn’t it windy in Wyoming?
Over the last year, I’ve taken this trip four or five times now. I’ve cycled around town in Omaha and Council Bluffs, Lincoln and Cheyenne. I’ve also ridden on the plains around Marysville Kansas, Kearney Nebraska and Julesburg Colorado. Most people don’t think of this as bicycle country but it is and becoming more so, it seems, every time I cross.
Take Des Moines, for example. The city is the hub of a regional trail network that links far flung small towns with the state capital. Iowa already has a great bicycling tradition with RAGBRAI, but it seems to be getting better all the time.The same is true in Nebraska. When I rode the Blue Ride River Trail from Marysville Kansas to the Nebraska state line last year, the Chief Standing Bear Trail was just opening. Now you can ride all the way from the Kansas line to Lincoln on a series of dedicated trails. Advocates are filling in the missing links between Lincoln and Omaha on the MOPAC Trail. There’s a new bridge open across the wide Platte River at South Bend, and it’s inevitable that the Lincoln-Omaha route will be completed soon. Once you get to Omaha, you can continue into Iowa across the amazing Kerrey bridge over the Missouri River.
Back in Ogden this morning, I rode through the Trackline development at the old Ogden stockyards. This is going to be a bicycle connected business park with a spectacular river promenade. The idea is that outdoor industry companies will locate here and their employees will choose to get to work by bicycle.
For those of us who prefer to bicycle, it’s getting better all the time. It’s going to continue to get better because more and more links are being created for us and, uin many cases, by us. As they are, more and more people are choosing to bicycle, not just for fun, but also for transportation. We are on the right side of history and state and local officials across the country are beginning to recognize it. These are great times to be a bicyclist. Best of all, it’s only going to get better.