Cycling an Eco-Friendly Transportation Option
By JOHN McCABE
WHEELING — For most of us, getting from point A to B involves climbing into a mechanical contraption of some sort, powered by a 4-, 6- or 8-cylinder version of the internal combustion engine, and pushing down the gas pedal and powering on our way, leaving a trail of smog in our wake.
For folks like Dave Crow, though, the daily trek is as simple as, well, climbing onto a mechanical contraption made of steel, aluminum or carbon fiber (which could be a brand called Trek) and pushing down on the pedals to get to your destination.
Crow, with Quick Service Bicycle Shop in Bridgeport, is one of a number of Ohio Valley residents who ride their bicycles to work most days of the year.
Crow, in fact, attempts to ride his bike everywhere he goes — within reason, of course.
He admits there are times when he loads up the family truckster (especially if the family is coming along) to get to the grocery store or another destination, but most days he can be found riding 10 miles to and from work as his way of not only staying in riding shape and promoting what he sells, but also as a means of lessening his impact on the environment.
The interesting thing is that Crow lives only about a mile and a half from his work, but enjoys the commute along little-used roadways as his way to both start and end the day. He terms his ride “mellow.”
“I love to ride and I’m trying to get my footprint a little smaller than most of these folks driving iron mastodons around,” he said.
There are others like him who cycle to work. Crow said one of the keys to making that happen, and something to broach with your boss before you decide it’s the right option, is to make sure your workplace is accommodating to a certain body smell that can come after a ride to work — especially in the summer heat.
Your route also has to be taken into consideration, as traveling some parts of the Ohio Valley on a two-wheeled bike can be hazardous to your health.
The area’s topography doesn’t make it the easiest to ride, and the loss of access points such as the Aetnaville Bridge that links Ohio and West Virginia have made getting from state-to-state tougher.
Crow said since the bridge’s closing, he’s had to resort to going “kamikaze-style” by crossing the Bridgeport Bridge over Wheeling Island’s back channel. “You have to have some serious ninja skills to avoid the traffic. That’s the toughest part of riding around here right now.”
As for improving the region’s cycling culture, Crow said he and others, such as Grand Vue Park outdoor activities coordinator Todd Hager, are working on plans similar to what’s been done in Marietta, Ohio, to construct single track trails in and around downtown Wheeling.
One person who may be helping them with this effort is the city’s new parks and recreation director, Jesse Mestrovic. Crow said they’ve already been talking about ideas for areas currently not being used that could accommodate cyclists.
“Suicide Hill — how awesome would it be to have a track running up the side of that hill, along the old road,” Crow said. “Those are the things we are looking at, how we can provide more infrastructure in Wheeling for cyclists. We’re also working with the city to tune up the bike path. It’s a really good time.”
At Grand Vue, Crow, Hager and others have spent the past few years tuning up and expanding an old 6-mile single track for mountain biking into a 16-mile course that last year hosted its first race in more than 15 years. This year’s event, set for July 2, is expected to draw a record field.
“Grand Vue, all told, has taken about eight to 10 years to get where it’s at right now,” Hager said. “When Craig White came in, we made it a priority, and it furthers our mission at Grand Vue of being the area’s extreme outdoor activities center.”
Hager also noted he’s hoping to get talks going between Wheeling, Marshall County and Ohio County officials on how to connect Wheeling’s Heritage Trail with the bike trail in Glen Dale. There are currently about three unfinished miles between the two trails, and Hager said hooking them up would open the region to better outdoor activities.
“You’d be able to ride between cities, using the trail to gain access to parks. How great would it be to get anywhere you want in this region by hiking or biking?”