Monday, August 31, 2009
Ride the Drive: For once everyone on John Nolen Drive was going under the speed limit
It's hard to express just how euphoric it felt to bike freely on a brisk, sunny day on streets normally buzzing with speeding auto traffic, and now not a car in sight. For many Madisonians it was a happy shared vision of a more bicycle-friendly city, all the more precious for its brevity -- six hours Sunday morning and afternoon when a number of major downtown thoroughfares were blocked off to car traffic for the first (hopefully annual) Ride the Drive celebration.
The day was a gala celebration of all things two-wheeled -- not all of them necessarily from this century, or even the last. These riders were apparently returning from the festivities on their time machines when we passed them on the Brittingham Park bike path. Modern dress aside, this is how the path along Brittingham Bay might have looked more than a century ago, during the late Victorian era when these bicycles were in their heyday. (Originally they were simply called "bicycles," but when modern bikes came into use, terms such as penny-farthing, high wheel, high wheeler, and ordinary were used to distinguish these contraptions from the new "safety bicycles.")