Golden Age

On Friday night I did a bike/ped count at the Birdsong Brewery, which I’d been told was the place to see lots of bikes. The count turned out to be as just as fruitless as the others I’d done (a total of four bike riders in two hours), but the trip was fruitful. Even though I’d only been in town a few days, there were several people at the bar who I had already met. While I was there, a couple more people from the cycling community joined us, and we had some good conversations about cycling, Charlotte, and my impressions of my findings so far.

Birdsong Brewery

Birdsong Brewery

After a while, the group checked Strava to find their other cycling friends, who turned out to be at a different brewery. Most of the group went off to meet up with them there. Near the end of my count time, Pam rolled up, and we rode back to her place so I could drop off the bike she’d loaned me.

On our ride, Pam asked what I’d found so far, and I reflected on the idea that the cycling scene in Charlotte feels a little like it’s in a Golden Age. It is a tight-knit group of people bound together by a common interest which separates them from the mainstream culture of the place. They all know each other, spend time together, and work towards shared goals. They don’t always agree; the vehicular cycling vs. infrastructure advocacy divide is notable. But they identify as part of the same community in a way that is no longer as true in the Bay Area, or other places where utility cycling may be more mature. The community is marginalized, but that brings them closer together.

A Golden Age creates many opportunities to do great things. I’ll be interested to see how it progresses in Charlotte.

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