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The JBC is On the Mend

August 9, 2014

A lot of you might have wondered at some point, “The JBC’s been pretty quiet for about a year. What’s the deal?”. Well, quite a lot has happened actually. Two main members moved to other cities, three main members had babies last year, and the other sub-members have been involved with non-JBC-related bike events.

This doesn’t mean we’re defunct, however. Merely in a lull of sorts prompted by a huge laundry list of offenses. Er, I mean excuses. No wait, “reasons”. Yea, that’s it. Bear with me while I break it down:

We planned a wedding; one we couldn’t have pulled off without the help of some incredible friends whose integrity is truly astounding and unbeatable. For some of you who’ve ever planned a wedding, this doesn’t require additional explanation. Just trust me. It consumes your every moment.

On May 2nd, 2013, Harley and I found out we were pregnant. This, of course, changes everything. Again, for some of you who are parents, we may not need to expound upon that any further. ‘Nough said. But I’ll humor the rest of you…

The lease to our apartment was going to be up at the end of September, so immediately after our honeymoon, we were on the lookout for a new home. Long story short, we had to move temporarily to Tennessee. Yes, we did actually move up northward for a bit. If you blinked, you missed it and many of you probably didn’t even notice we were gone. We moved back to Jax as my belly grew right alongside our new-parent worries.

We moved temporarily into our parent’s home and then again into our generous and wonderful friends’ garage apartment while feverishly searching for jobs. It’s around the end of October by now and I’m due early January. Day in and day out we searched for jobs, finally landed some temp jobs alongside my freelance work, and spotted that pinhole of light at the end of this frighteningly obscure tunnel.

After the job hunt came the house hunt. It took a while to find a property owner who managed to look the other way regarding our temp jobs. Most of the time the landlord is going to insist that at least one of you must have a steady full time job, not some miscellaneous freelance work and a temp job you just landed a couple weeks ago.

We moved our stuff, yet again, to our new apartment in Riverside in November and were resolute to finally settle into our own private space once again. My desire to nest was so strong, it nagged at me sweetly, growing louder and louder each day with no possible way to satisfy its cries until around the last month of my pregnancy. By the end of November, I believe we were nearly fully settled and nested. My belly was becoming quite large. Harley insisted we have a real Christmas tree that year because it was going to be a particularly special Christmas for us. I beamed over the idea and we made it so.

I rode my bike through eight and a half months of my pregnancy, even through the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina. I even made it to the annual Riverside Avondale Luminaria Bike Ride in December which was three weeks before my due date. Call me crazy (and maybe I am) but I love riding bikes, even in this Godforsaken “Third most dangerous city in the nation”. I remember riding while obviously quite pregnant through the new roundabouts in San Marco. Cars continued to treat me as if I were invisible. Those two new roundabouts and the new stop-sign-and-stop-light-free San Marco Square still, to this day, confounds and infuriates me and Harley to the point of complete avoidance. We no longer ride bikes nor drive in that area. Motorists still do not always stop when a pedestrian is trying to cross. Whoever decided that a never ending flow of traffic in a residential area was a good idea must either be crazy or simply isn’t familiar with the area.

My belly endured its final kick and Jonas introduced himself late December, one week before he was due. It came as no surprise to me. His grande physique and relentless kicking were the only signs I needed that this boy was going to insist on coming out sooner rather than later to stretch out those long legs of his. He was a beautiful, beautiful sight. Instantly we felt that obligatory discernment, that staggering love that every other parent has struggled to describe properly. If the reality of “everything changes” didn’t fully sink in before, it certainly did at this point. He was welcomed home by the glow of our Christmas tree.

We narrowly survived the first three months of parenthood. But the abundance of bonding with two of the most important people of my life–Harley and Jonas–more than made up for the lack of sleep. These precious moments were laced with anxiety; we both still needed to find better employment. Months 4 through 6 were full of discoveries for Jonas and the rekindling of the simple joys lived vicariously through our little one’s fresh perspective on life. And thankfully in that time, we both landed really great and secure jobs.

Much like my womb, our family quickly began to feel the walls of our little one bedroom apartment contract. Our boy had begun the scooting stage. Before you know it, he’ll be crawling… walking even. But our lease isn’t going to be up until November 2014. We figured we’d just have to suck it up until then. That is, until another fortune befell us. And so… yet again… on July 2nd we moved to a sweet two bedroom home, and still within the urban core.

Did you lose count? We’ve moved five, count ’em FIVE times, since October of last year. Believe it.

At this point, Harley and I keep asking ourselves and each other, “When are we going to get back to focusing on the JBC?”. We’ve realized everything we’ve been doing since May 2nd has only and ever been for the betterment of our family and especially that of our son.

If we want to keep doing right by our son, we also need to be sure to continue to be actively involved in improving the Jacksonville core, namely in cyclist and pedestrian advocacy. As of right now, Jax is still considered the third most dangerous city in the nation. If we want our child to be active and feel free enough to, at the very least, ride his bike around the neighborhood (and we do), we need to get back on the wagon and keep doing our part to make it safer for him.

Now that we’re finally settled, it looks like we can realistically start doing more. We’ll be attending the FDOT Public meeting at the Cummer regarding the new proposed segregated bike/ped path for the Fuller Warren Bridge–the first ever on any of our bridges! I have a few more PSA billboard designs ready to submit to Clearly Jax again. And speaking of PSAs, we’re brainstorming over some ideas for short video clips depicting some of Jacksonville’s most challenging situations for cyclists and pedestrians.

The BPAC and other renowned advocates in this city have already made huge strides in the right direction. But we all still have a great deal more work cut out for us, including keeping the City Council in check about budgets and frivolous spending. We hear about cyclist and pedestrian fatalities all the time. More money needs to be put into driver education and infrastructure if we’re ever going to have a respectable metropolis.

The Jacksonville Bicycle Coalition will be up to our old antics in due time. To those who remained our friends through what has been our toughest, and at once, most glorious year of our lives, you are certainly one of our greatest motivating factors. Thank you for toughing it out with us. We’re ready to get back to work, albeit a bit less rigorous this go around, what with a baby on board.

In the mean time, and in the immortal words of Harley Henry himself, RIDE BIKES.

 

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