Big Ideas, Big Hurdles, Small Steps


If you follow Ride the Cov on social media, you’ve no doubt seen that a group of us volunteered to clean up the Riverfront Commons trail this past Saturday. You might even be letting out a groan now, at the prospect of me talking even more about it. I understand, and I promise I have more to talk about than just this past Saturday.

What does it mean to make a city more bike-friendly? Well, the obvious answers are bike lanes in the streets, signage, and those funny looking markings on the pavement called “sharrows.” {For those unfamiliar, “sharrow” comes from a combination of the words “share” and “arrow,” and the idea is that these markings painted on the road surface remind automobile drivers that they are to share the road with bike riders, and to remind bike riders that they are to travel in the same direction as automobile traffic.} And these ideas are great, and they are certainly something we would all like to see happen. The problem is they are very big changes in the eyes of the people who have to fund and implement them, and the benefit to the community isn’t apparent enough to rush the funding or implementation of them.

That’s where advocates, like the members of Ride the Cov, come into play. We must ask ourselves what we can do to make the benefits of bike lanes, signage, and sharrows more apparent, and help facilitate the implementation of those things (and more). The way we do this is a bit of a balancing act. See, a lot of folks will tell you that you can get more people riding bikes if you can just get the infrastructure installed to make them feel safer on the roads. And others will tell you that if there are more people on bikes in the first place, you have a stronger presence and therefore a stronger argument to have the infrastructure installed. My personal belief is that you have to do both, nearly simultaneously. The way I see it, Ride the Cov needs to both help people feel safer on their bikes in the current environment AND work to change the environment in order to help more people feel safer on their bikes.

Small initiatives, like keeping the Riverfront Commons Trail clean, may seem insignificant when compared to putting bike lanes on 4th St., 5th St., Scott, Greenup, Russell, Rt. 8, 12th St., Madison Ave., etc., but when you take a step back, and ask yourself about every little effort made: Does this action make Covington more bike-friendly? As long as the answer is “yes, it does,” then no act is insignificant. Removing the leaves and branches and litter from a trail makes that trail, and by extension, the city, more bike-friendly. Making the city more bike friendly helps more people feel safer on their bikes, and the cycle continues.

Keep an eye out, especially as next spring and Bike Month roll around. We’ve got a lot of ideas about how to achieve our long term goals, and you can bet we’ll be asking our members to get involved. We won’t be able to get where we want to go without every one of you who is willing to add your name to our list of Active-ists, our members who want to be, and see, the change in Covington’s future.

Joe Koehl