Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Bicycle Commuting Diaries: Changing Landscapes

I’ve been commuting by bike for the last 10 years at various levels. Some years I’ve been pretty motivated, other years have been lean. Commuting was nice when we lived in Fort Collins, Colorado. The city planned for and accommodated bicycles on the streets. When we moved to Eagle County, Colorado things changed a bit. We first moved to Eagle and it was possible to walk to work. After a couple years, we moved seven miles down the road to Gypsum. I started commuting again – this time along US Highway 6. Most people thought I was crazy to commute seven miles, let alone on a highway. I didn’t think it was a big deal – the shoulder was adequate and the traffic wasn’t anything like the Front Range. So I’ve covered the distance between Eagle and Gypsum on and off for the last 5 years with little or no worries. And then development came…

The growth and development of Eagle County has been steadily increasing since we moved here. It started with the housing and now it’s the services that go with it. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Starbucks, etc. Everything that you’d find in a metropolitan area is already here or will be coming in the near future. This summer I have witnessed the changing of the landscape personally. Between Eagle and Gypsum I see the progression every day as a pedal up and down US Highway 6: a round-a-bout under construction in Eagle, the creation of a building for Costco and the hauling of millions of tons of dirt from a dry hillside to the end of the runway at an airport. Instead of a few cars passing me in my thirty minute commute; it’s a constant stream of cement trucks, long-haulers, dump trucks and every other kind of car. I’m getting pretty good at guessing the type of rig by the sound of the engine as it approaches me.

I definitely spend some time during each commute making note of the significant changes this year. I know that everything in Eagle County is changing. The people, the place and it’s happening in a short amount of time. People are migrating to and throughout this place and it’s happening in a very short amount of time. I wonder if it’s a good thing that Eagle County has gone from a rural area in western Colorado to an urban landscape in a rural setting?

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