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Letter: Bemidji needs some work to become bike friendly

With the warm summer weather finally here, I’ve seen many more bikers riding around town. I’ve seen signs that designate Bemidji as a bike-friendly community, which is exciting as I am an avid cyclist. After taking my bike out this spring I began to notice that this title is little more than a facade seen on streetside posters and empty bike racks.

So far this season I’ve blown through three tubes from broken beer bottles and leftover construction debris casually sprinkled on the road’s shoulders, and faced both physical and verbal assault from locals driving by throwing garbage and yelling highly unintelligent correlations between biking and my perceived sexual orientation (still trying to figure that one out). I am not alone in this either.

Friends of mine, both visiting or local, have also had less than ideal experiences while biking in Bemidji. In addition to what is mentioned above, they’ve been nearly hit as cars cut them off while nonchalantly running red lights and experienced potential hearing loss and fright from car horns inches from eardrums.

Before we get excited about titles for our city, let’s take a look at how we can improve our friendliness toward cycling. Without a trail lapping the lake run-ins with motorists are inevitable, making a dialogue of safety and cooperation a must, while minimizing torment and intimidation.

I say this because Bemidji is a growing city with an expanding biking and cyclist culture. There have been new road ride groups and mountain bike groups, increasing miles of single track trail, people playing bike polo, as well as a new ride share program “Nice Ride.” Not only is the cyclist culture growing, but so is my anticipation for what Bemidji has potential to provide to its citizens and visitors.

Caige Jambor