28 March 2015

Taking Cycling To Heart In Dixie

As Portland goes, so goes....Alabama?

April Fool's Day is on Wednesday, but I'm not putting in an early joke here.  You read the first sentence of this post right:  Some folks in Alabama are doing something folks in the Rosebud City--and Quebec--have been doing for some time.

Since you're reading this blog, you've figured out it's bike-related.  Indeed it is:  Today, the first Alabama Statewide Bicycle Summit brought together bicycle transportation and recreation groups, engineers, builders, planners--and state tourism representatives.

Cyclists in the  Selma 50 ride, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of  the march Martin Luther King Jr. led to Montgomery.  Photo by Mickey Welsh.

Yes, those reps were discussing bicycle tourism in the Heart of Dixie.  Now, I've never been there, but I'm told--even by people whose politics are well to the left of mine (Yes, there are such people!) that much of the state is quite lovely.  The few Alabamans I've met seemed like lovely people and, like neighboring Florida, it has warmer weather for longer parts of the year than most other states.

But those state tourism folks have figured out something their counterparts in Oregon and La Belle Province have learned:  making their state bike-friendly can be good for business.   A few years ago, Portland-based activist/writer/cyclist Elly Blue pointed out that 78 percent of visitors to Portland said the city's bicycle-friendly reputation played a part in their decision to travel there.  And, of course, numerous localities reap economic benefits from large, well-publicized rides such as the Five Boro Bike Tour in my hometown of New York.

So...Will it be long before we see a peloton whistling Dixie on their way through Sweet Home Alabama?  


  1. Unfortunately, as in many places in the South, the prejudice is that riding bikes is something only poor, no-account people do. Texas is a little better, probably because it sometimes gets confused whether it's part of the South or not.

  2. Steve--Interesting point about Southern cultural attitudes. It reminds me of the time I went to a party and a fellow from Mississippi was offended when someone offered him wine. "Where I come from, drinking wine means you can't afford bourbon," he snorted.

    As for Texas: I can see why some think it's a nation unto itself. It's different from the South or any other part of the US. For that matter, so is New York, where I live.