Festival promotes neighborhood cycling

Festival promotes neighborhood cycling
The Pajcics are examples of local residents lessening their carbon footprint.

District 14 City Councilman Jim Love is looking to the local cycling community to help him promote neighborhood bicycle use as one solution to the Historic District’s multifaceted and growing parking dilemma.

The Pajcics are examples of local residents lessening their carbon footprint.

This summer, he tapped several local business people — including real estate executive Bob Gittings and local attorneys Steve and Michael Pajcic — to help get things into gear. Now the neighborhood’s first-ever bicycle festival is on the October calendar. Organizers hope it will highlight the benefits of cycling and how to stay safe on the local streets.
Gittings said there is a real need for people to get out on their bicycles — both for the sake of health and exercise, and to help alleviate vehicular traffic on the road.
“This will be the first bicycle festival in our neighborhood’s history,” Gittings said. He also hopes the event will get more businesses interested in sponsoring bicycle racks around the
neighborhood.
The Riverside Avondale Bicycle Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 13 in Willowbranch Park. The event includes games, food vendors, bicycle safety classes and a bicycle rodeo for kids and an adult bicycle scavenger hunt. Vendors also are expected to be on site.
Gittings said Pajcic, who is great entertaining the kids and is an avid cyclist (see story below), would provide expert instruction and a lively show during the bicycle rodeo portion of the festival. The event will be held throughout the park and may extend into the Willowbranch Library, Gittings said.
Pajcic’s son, Michael, also is a committed cyclist. Both Pajcics are an example of local residents lessening their carbon footprints. The father and son personal injury attorneys at Pajcic & Pajcic are also Avondale neighbors who ride their bicycles to work nearly every day. The Resident reached out to Michael Pajcic about their routine:

To what destination do you bike every day, and what is the mileage?
We bike to work almost every day, rain or shine. It’s about 4 1/2 miles to our office downtown. I go in before my dad, but we usually get to bike home together.

When did you start using the bicycle for your daily commute, and what was the impetus?
After lots of urging from my sister and me, my dad started when they finished the Northbank Riverwalk, and I started as soon as I moved back in 2010. It began as a way to make exercise part of the daily routine. Now, it doesn’t even feel like exercise. We look forward to it. You start recognizing people along the route and become more familiar with the neighborhood. My dad sometimes says embarrassingly that, at his age, it is often the most fun part of the day. He sometimes embarrasses me with the frequent ding-a-ling of his bell.

How have you been treated by drivers? Any message for motorists out there?
Very well. We ride defensively and try to keep out of traffic as much as possible. However, we really appreciate it when motorists slow and respect our space. I have two pet peeves: when motorists pass me as I am approaching a stop sign and when anyone, motorist/biker/runner, is distracted either by a cell phone or an iPod.

Are the neighborhood and your route manageable for cyclists?
Yes, though we stay off the busiest roads. We take the sidewalk and Boone Park along the St. Johns “S” curve, and then we bike along Oak Street over the pedestrian bridge on Willowbranch Creek to the Riverwalk rather than St. Johns Avenue to Riverside Avenue. I think that it would be great if we designated a few roads like Oak Street as “bike roads” and lowered the speed limit to 20 mph.

What are the biggest challenges to cycling to work?
Showers and out-of-office meetings. Fortunately, we have showers in the office and coworkers willing to share their cars. Getting clothes to and from work is a nuisance for my dad, but not for me since I’m not as much of a clotheshorse as he.

Best benefits?
Mental and physical health. Running into friends in the neighborhood; enjoying the beauty of the neighborhood and river.

What do you hope the festival will achieve for biking in Jacksonville?
Greater awareness for neighborhood biking and some new bike racks.

Any cycling events on the
calendar?
No. One year we need to try the MS 150.

 

By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News

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