Sunday, May 10, 2020

COVID-19: The good, the bad and the unintended revival of the everyday cyclist

Here in the U.S, we are about two months into giving the COVID-19 pandemic the seriousness it deserves. Even as I write this article, however, most stay at home restrictions have already been lifted and many businesses have reopened. Restaurants are once again reopening their dining rooms and parks are crowded with large groups of people. The warning for continued caution has largely fallen on deaf ears as people blatantly disregard warnings about social distancing and are no longer wearing masks. To be clear, there is no green light to go back to normal. Out of 320,000,000 people, about 1% of the U.S population has actually been tested. To date there has yet to be a vaccine or proven remedy that will work against this virus. Tests are not mandatory to the public and quarantines are no longer being enforced. 

I have to preface my article with a statement of both disappointment and disbelief of how people have reacted to the virus on a national level. There seems to be more concern for the almighty dollar than for saving human lives. Something as fundamental as the value of human life should be an issue we should all stand behind in solidarity. Instead misinformation and political bias has turned our common enemy, COVID-19 into a political issue. Instead of receiving a consistent message from the people that we turn to inform us of current events, some news media outlets have been giving us a mixed bag of opinions and conspiracy theories that are not grounded in reality. It seems that it is up to every person and business individually as to how they are going to protect themselves and their families during this time. There is no guidance or leadership from any of the programs and entities that are supposed to be qualified to guide us through a situation like this. 

There will be consequences for irresponsible actions and disregard for life and personal safety. Those who err on the side of caution now are likely to fare better in the times to come. This is not over and it will likely take on a new dimension pretty soon. Skeptical? Wait and see. Feel free to bookmark this article for historical reference. ;)

On a different and very positive note (shifting gears, I had to get my nihilism, or factual reporting, out of the way) this pandemic has had a very positive impact on the environment as well as many people who were once overworked but now have found the leisure time for exercise and self-improvement. With the reduced greenhouse gases from people staying at home instead of driving, the weather in Texas has never been better. We are having an actual Spring for the first time in years. The cooler weather has also brought many people out on their bicycles. People of all types are taking to cycling now, not just the competitive athlete types but people with kids and dogs who want to enjoy the outdoors, maybe for the first time in their lives. Bike shops and mobile bicycle repair operations are seeing their business model shift to cater to commuters and casual cyclists over those who ride for sport. If this trend continues we can hope to see a revival of sorts in the way of infrastructure improvements for cyclists along with real transit oriented development initiatives. TOD improvements in my area have been a joke and have missed the mark of their original purpose. Many are glorified high end retail outlets that don't incorporate or support community businesses. High end retail and high end housing have gentrified the former communities that were once here. Hopefully as local governments look to meet the increased demand for cyclists, real strides can be made to connect people to the places they need to go via their bicycles. 

What can you do now in this time of social distancing and reduced work hours? Start by riding your bike (of course, you knew I'd say that). Familiarize yourself with your local bike paths and low traffic roads in your area. Create routes to and from places. Figure out the ins and outs of your town or city, the back roads and the neighborhood roads. Grow a garden. Find a wooded area to social isolate, take in the nature around you. See all of the animals that have come out of hiding thanks to our reduced carbon footprint. Stay positive and take comfort in the fact that there are a few people that still take this seriously, that are preparing for the worst to come. Read the Bible. Read Matthew Chapter 24. Read Luke Chapter 21. Take note that these things that we are seeing now were already foretold to happen. "The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself, but the inexperienced must suffer the consequences"-Proverbs 22:3. Pick up a new hobby of your choice. Keep your mind busy. Connect with friends via face time or Zoom. Stay busy, stay active and don't be fooled into complacency. That's about all I have for now. Stay safe and stay tuned for more articles from my blog.

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