Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why the Designation "Bike Capital" Is a Forced Fit for the City of Brownsville

Battlefield Trail, Across from Filemon Vela Courthouse
Brownsville and Miami have almost an identical latitude and annual mean temperature. 

That's misleading as Brownsville is colder, on average in the winter, and hotter in the summer.  We have a more extreme climate.  That climate, hot and humid during the majority of the year, makes Brownsville's designation as a "Bicycle Capital," awkward at best, but, more likely, simply erroneous.  The local climate in not conducive to workers traveling to their jobs via bicycle.  On a typical Brownsville day, their clothing would be drenched with sweat.

My 30 year old nephew, recently released from prison, has no driver's license.  He's been bicycling wherever he needs to go.  The young man is physically fit, having done nothing but lift weights and do cardio for the last two years.  We joke about him being a "world class athlete."  On a recent afternoon, he cycled across town, telling us he definitely felt he was going to pass out.  No wonder the Brownville Bike Brigade typically schedules their events after sundown.

After hearing the city's claim that the Battlefield Hike & Bike Trail had "1,000 rider daily," I began to pay closer attention to the city's bike trails. Whenever I crossed a trail, I would always look to the left and the right for riders, seldom seeing any. Two years ago, called to jury service at the Filemon Vela Court House at 6th and Harrison, just across from the start of the Battlefield Trail, I did some personal research:

Incidentally, I recently spent four hours at the Filemon Vila Federal Court House at 600 E. Harrison, reporting for potential jury duty. Two hours were spent in the lobby on the 3rd floor, waiting to be called by lawyers in an illegal gun purchasing case. For most of those two hours I stared out the window down into the mouth of the Old Battlefield Hike & Bike Trail. Despite the fact that the City of Brownsville claimed that in a grant application to extend the trail through downtown Brownsville that the trail experienced over "1,000 riders daily," I did not see a single rider.

Two or three times a week I drive across the Belden Trail in West Brownsville.  While I seldom see cyclists, it is not uncommon to see a couple with a young child in a stroller or a couple women with children in tow, using the trail to walk safely from one house to the other.

Bicycling Super Highway in Denmark
Denmark, on the other hand, with a very temperate climate, is truly a biking mecca. They have 12,000 kilometers of bike trails, a cycling super highway in Copenhagen and real, not make believe, bicycle tourism.  The Stockholm, Sweden to Copenhagen Bike Run is famous.  Today's summer high temperature in Copenhagen was 65.  In Brownsville, it was 96.

Brownsville is many wonderful things, but, just not a "bike capital."

1 comment:

  1. Tony and Rose just want Brownsville to be like Austin.



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