Although St. Louis has had a long and lucrative relationship with the automobile, it was not our first love — nor our last.
Long before Locust Street had Automobile Row and dealerships sprang up, we were a city of horses, of carriage houses, of brick and cobblestoned streets, and of streetcars. If you look at the City on Google Earth, you’ll see from the width and layout of the streets that the core of St. Louis is actually a city laid out for pedestrians. We are a city designed from the beginning for what is now called “sustainability.”
I think that accounts for the strong appeal that City is beginning to exert among young St. Louisans — and empty-nest, senior St. Louisans from the surburbs. Many, many City residents live within a short walk — or an easy bike ride — of a park, a store, a church, and a bar. Our cars we still need for work — though, we would need them less often if the Missouri Department of Transportation did not so frequently confuse itself for a highway department and if it began to support public transportation with more money.
But, I digress.
Tomorrow, the City will officially celebrate a milestone in our efforts to make the region healthier and more fun by encouraging and supporting bicycling. Designation as a Bike Friendly Community Bronze by the League of American Bicyclists recognizes years of work with the City of St. Louis by groups such as the St. Louis Bike Federation, Trailnet, Grace Hill, and Great Rivers Greenway to add miles of lanes and trails and acres of green space to the City, and to encourage people to use them.
I cannot yet see a day when there will not be any gas-powered cars on our City’s streets, but I can confidently predict that there will be fewer of them in the very near future. Instead of driving, we will be walking; riding trains, buses, and (I hope) streetcars; and biking. And if that’s the case, it is a very good thing that we are now OFFICIALLY bike friendly.