Pasted below is an article featuring Melissa Brown and her efforts to promote bicycling for transportation as a coordinator in the Jefferson County Health Department. It was published in the Suburban Journals, which serve metro St. Louis, on May 2, 2011.
I met Melissa in person recently after talking to her on the phone in February of this year when she contacted me about my possibly conducting a 4 or 5 hour bike education course. We met at the first-ever CyclingSavvy St. Louis course held on Friday, April 30, and Saturday, April 31. I’ll discuss this course in a subsequent blog.
The article attracted 6 comments which ranged from support to opposition, as might be expected. Here are four of those six (with my emphasis, and a note about Missouri state law, added):
bign said on: May 2, 2011, 7:10 am
Bicycling is healthy for sure. It’s the snobbery that causes the blocking of traffic on streets and highways that isn’t healthy. The roads were built for vehicles, not snotty bicycle health freaks.
ForgenMord said on: May 2, 2011, 10:34 am
As a non-snotty, non-freaky person who nevertheless likes both bicycles and health, I heartily agree with bigns premise that “the roads were built for vehicles”. After all, a bicycle does indeed legally count as a vehicle, just like a motorcycle or a scooter or a carriage (horseless and horseful!) I look forward to the day when people using the roads with different types of vehicles can get along like grown-ups.
Comment: I believe what matters is that bicyclists are considered as vehicle operators, with the same rights and duties as other road users, except for those regulations which inherently cannot apply. Here is the actual section in the Missouri State Statutes with the important wording emphasized:
307.188. Rights And Duties Of Bicycle And Motorized Bicycle Riders
Every person riding a bicycle or motorized bicycle upon a street or highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle as provided by chapter 304, RSMo, except as to special regulations in sections 307.180 to 307.193 and except as to those provisions of chapter 304, RSMo, which by their nature can have no application.
Cassandra said on: May 3, 2011, 9:15 am
When someone is riding their bike on the edge of the right lane, and it’s a four-lane road, going 15 mph when everyone else is doing 40, during morning rush hour, and cars are having to brake and wait or swerve into the left lane, then yes, it’s a problem.
Roads were made for cars – bike lanes were made for bikes.
ihtnep said on: May 2, 2011, 7:27 pm
bign, if a bicyclist is self righteously riding in the middle lane, delaying traffic, that is definitely a problem. Traffic tickets are the solution. If a bicyclist is riding on the edge of the road (not on interstates), at a speed of 15 mph or higher, then what is the problem? I ride to work almost every day in Tokyo, and rarely have any problems because I don’t get in the way of something bigger and faster than me, and most people understand how to share the road.
Health worker promotes the value of pedaling
HEALTH DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE WINS AWARD FOR EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF BIKING
By Kevin Carbery | Posted: Monday, May 2, 2011 6:00 am | Comments (6 as of May 3, 2011, 9:15 am)Melissa Brown feels that now, more than ever, riding a bicycle is a good idea.
The chronic disease prevention coordinator for the Jefferson County Health Department sees riding as a way to get around and exercise at the same time.
Brown bikes in her personal life and promotes the activity as part of her job. Her efforts include helping organize and run Get Moving Twin Cities, a project to improve people’s health funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health. Biking is an important aspect of Get Moving Twin Cities, which is based in the Festus-Crystal City area.
Get Moving Twin Cities activities have included “Bike Trains,” an effort to have students ride bikes as a group with adult supervision to and from school once a week in good weather, and community bike ride events.
The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation took note of Brown’s efforts and in April made her one of 13 Missouri residents to receive the group’s Friends of Bicycling Award for 2011.
Brown, 27, and her husband, Matthew, live in South St. Louis and are expecting their first child in July.
She recently spoke of her professional and personal interest in bicycle riding.
Question: Why are you such a proponent of bicycle riding?
Answer: Basically, it’s a way to get around where you’re getting some physical activity at the same time. You also save gas money and it’s better for the environment. It’s just a really fun way to get around compared to being in a car.
Q: Where is your favorite place to ride?
A: I like riding anywhere, but I mostly ride around the city of St. Louis and use bikes for transportation. It saves me gas.
Q: How old is your bike and what kind is it?
A: I actually have two bikes. I have a Schwinn Voyageur that’s, maybe, five years old. The other one is a Kona Jake that’s two years old. I like them both.
Q: How are you promoting physical activities at this time?
A: Get Moving Twin Cities is still going on. We would like to spread it to other cities in Jefferson County. We’ve seen some interest in Herculaneum and Pevely. I would like to see more participation. At our first community bike ride last October, we had 30 riders.
Q: What is the best way to be safe while bicycling?
A: Know and follow the rules of the road and ride a safe bike. We encourage people to wear helmets. Kids in our Bike Train program are given helmets. We plan to have a Bike Safety Rodeo in September as part of Twin City Days. We’ll be doing safety education and also will be giving out helmets.
Q: After all of the national “get healthy” campaigns, do you feel people are getting any healthier?
A: I think progress is slow.
Q: What is your best advice for someone looking to get healthy?
A: Look for ways where you can build physical activity into your daily life. Ride or walk for short errands. Eat better. Do family activities where you’re active with your kids.
Q: How do you feel about winning your Friends of Bicycling Award?
A: It was unexpected. I was nominated. I appreciate the award and also want to acknowledge the other people who have helped with the program. It’s not a one-person show.