Moving to Belleville, IL has been a great change in my life and the lives of my family. We lived in Indianapolis for more than 17 years and then moved to Washington, DC a few years back. We went there for my wife’s work but after a few years, the craziness and expense really got to us. Don’t get me wrong, living in the DC area was fun but it’s nice to be back in the Midwest and in a town just 15 miles east of St. Louis. A town full of 200 years worth of history. What a great place to live. We live in a 140 year old historic home, just a few blocks from main street, and near so many great neighbors. It really can’t get much better. I really feel like we’re part of a community.
On a daily basis, and about the same time each day, there is a very overweight woman that rides her bike past our house and on up the brick street towards the downtown area a few blocks from our house. Today, I just happened to be outside when she went by and when she stopped at the 4-way stop by our house, I ran up and mentioned that I see her every day riding by our house. She said that she lives about a mile from town and rides her bike to the homeless shelter on the other side of town to help for a few hours after she gets off of work each night. As she rode off, I just smiled.
So, for all of you that drive your cars a couple of miles to get to your intended destination, remember this story of an overweight woman that rides her bike, instead of driving her car, to help the homeless. If she can do it, most of you certainly can, too. Leave your car in the driveway or garage and walk or ride a bike every once in a while. You’ll be happy you did and the earth will thank you for it.
I’ve said this many times in the past month or so, but I really do like the area of the country we just moved to. Belleville is a small city of about 45,000 and just 15 or so miles east of St. Louis in Illinois. We live in one of the many historic districts that’s also on the National Historic Registry. Commuting by bike here is really, really easy thanks to the city layout and nice trail system (that’s only getting better). We live just a few blocks from the downtown area that, I’ve been told, has made quite the comeback over the past few years. Lots of great local restaurants, bars, shops, and awesome festivals all through the year. And since we live so close to downtown, it’s easy to walk to all the great attractions. We can go to a bar, drink a couple of pints, and walk back to the house instead of having to drive. I love it! The presence of bicycle commuters isn’t all that strong, though, so I’ve been thinking about what can be done to change this. One idea is to start a website that talks about all the great bicycling opportunities in the city and, maybe, my daily cycling. Also, I’m thinking about starting a group here that can work with the city to make it a bit more bike friendly. So many ideas floating around in my head and with each daily commute, more ideas are added. I’m just not sure where to start.
Belleville definitely is no Portland, Oregon, but we could be and I would love to be a part of what moves this city in that direction.