Riding around with ‘The Walkin’ Dude’
There’s a character in one of Stephen King’s best books who goes by the moniker “The Walkin’ Dude” since that’s what he does quite a bit as King tells what I feel is a great story. “The Stand” is a close second to my all time favorite, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Anyway, the Walkin’ Dude, aka Randall Flagg and The Dark Man, is not a nice guy. He’s a very, very, very bad guy, the villain in King’s story.
As many folks in Rifle know, I do a lot of walking myself. But I like to think I’m one of the good guys. Not necessarily the hero in a King story, but definitely not the villain.
I’m blessed to be able to walk to work on many days, which does help counter the countless hours I sit in front of a computer and on the phone each day. Not enough hours, but some.
Walking in Rifle has been a mostly positive experience, with friendly folks and nice scenery to enjoy. Riding a bicycle on Rifle’s streets, though, is another matter.
That’s because there really aren’t any designated bike routes. Oh, sure, there’s the Rifle Creek trail, which is very nice. But it really doesn’t go very far if you’re in the mood for a real bike ride.
What about riding on all the county roads around here that go on for miles, you ask? Tried it, even before the natural gas drilling boom happened. After a couple of big dogs who lived on some ranches or farms came barking and running after me, nipping at my feet and legs, I gave up that idea.
I don’t own a bike anymore pretty much for those reasons. I gave it away many years ago, in fact.
But maybe things can change. There’s going to be a bicycle workshop and tour of Rifle streets in a few weeks by some folks who specialize in helping communities develop bicycling infrastructure, trails and routes. And they say biking can help with economic development.
This is part of the city’s downtown strategic planning process that’s been under way for a few years, thanks to a grant. Nathan Lindquist, the city planner who’s been one of the point men on the planning process, said the effort includes a survey of what people would like to see in terms of biking opportunities along the Ninth to 14th Streets section of the Rifle Creek trail, which runs east of City Market.
Other parts of the effort could include further development of the trail from the Brenden Theatres through an underpass that would go under U.S. Highway 6 and eventually connect with an island in the Colorado River, near the I-70 rest area.
None of this will happen anytime soon, of course. You know what kind of financial condition the city is in these days, along with all of us. But it makes sense to start the planning process, so they can maybe get some grants and find other funding sources to help make Rifle more pedestrian and bike friendly.
The workshop is to happen on Friday, June 7, at the Rifle Branch Library, followed by a bike tour from there north to the Rifle Creek trail at Ninth Street, then back south through Centennial Park and across the Colorado River bridge to the rest area. Then the riders head back to the library.
Sounds like a good way to get this effort going. They’re asking for RSVPs if you’re interested in taking part, so call Jennifer Hill at 384-4364, ext. 4001, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 24.
Now, does anyone have a bike I can borrow?
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.
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