Tag Archives: bicycle commuter

New Semester Resolutions!

As the semester is winding down, I have no intention of making phony “New Year” resolutions, and I can’t recall the last time I actually did pretend to make one. This New Semester (starting in about 5 weeks from the end of the previous semester) is going to be more of a challenge than I’ve had before.

With that in mind, I’m making “New Semester” resolutions.

I will explain each one in turn!


 

Math

Math is seemingly the bane of my existence. I can draw, paint, sculpt, sell, market, manipulate fantastical multi-syllabic words to fit my fancy but I cannot get my head around numbers. Namely this damned quadratic equation and why I must learn it for my degree. Having even less motivation because, being a grown person I know I will never need it. I’ve lived many many years without it and I have no need for it in what I intend to do with my life. With that, the Kansas Board of Regents deems I must have it, so I can do little to dissuade them. I have come to find Khan Academy my most helpful ally in this war against math I have. As I hope to continue to learn it so I don’t loathe it with vehement passion, I resolve to watch or practice math every day at least once a day until I pass my final required math class. Khan Academy helps me with reinforcement of ‘points,’ ‘badges’ and a visual representation of my progress.

Khan Academy Dashboard
Khan Academy Dashboard

 

Creativity

I’m in a creative rut and I have been for years. I used to be able to sit and paint for hours on end with more ideas coming at me for more and more paintings. Not-so-much these days. To hopefully combat this, I’ve purchased a daily desk-style calendar of something to draw every day.

The box claims “Unleash Your Creativity! Draw Something New Every Day!” From the bestselling “642 Things To Draw,” this page-a-day calendar serves up a whole year of inspiring prompts for anyone who loves to doodle. Each page features one offbeat, clever, or bizarre thing to draw- from “a tire swing” to “a happy surprise.” This quirky collection of prompts will spark your imagination every day of the year!

Draw-A-Day Calendar
Draw-A-Day Calendar

www.chroniclebooks.com

Though this calendar starts in the New Year, I have other things to read and hopefully foster my imagination for some good doodles next year. I also have to figure out some way to adhere it to somewhere I’ll look at it every day…very tricky indeed.


 

Learn French!

Now now, I know that’s a heavy order. I was doing fairly well getting a small French vocabulary up before this Fall semester got going and I just stopped trying a few weeks in. I was learning on the Duolingo App for iPhone and iPad and found them very engaging on the platform. They do have a website but I tend to use it while doing other things here and there- waiting for water to boil or on commercial breaks. This also ties into my degree requirements, I am required to have two years of a language I believe. I might as well get a head start or supplement what I will be learning shortly. Who doesn’t want to learn French?

Duolingo Home Screen
Duolingo Home Screen on a computer

 

Take A Photo Every Day

On my shelf unit I have EIGHT cameras, only two are probably not worth attempting to use. Most are film 35mm but they’re sitting next to unused film canisters. They’ve been gathering a layer of dust since I got them out of their hiding place. I almost always used to take my camera with me wherever I went, and fell out of practice as I begun work in retail and the less I dragged around with me the easier my life seemed to be.

Top shelf holding two cameras and film.
Top shelf holding two cameras and film.

Now that I’m back in the habit of hauling around bags that are large enough to handle the cameras, I need to get back into seeing thing through their viewfinders. I am not excluding taking photos with my iPhone but the weight of a camera and turning the dials just so, it’s something nostalgic about it I miss. And! There seem to be places that still develop film! (i.e Walgreens)


 

Sleep Regularly

Seems simple enough, right? Not in the least bit simple for me. I thrive at night, so I can stay up much-too-late all the time. This results in my being awake until “ungodly” hours and then sleeping until well past noon the following day- subsequently missing classes and productive hours I could potentially be doing things! First my goal is to sleep MORE regularly, then focus on a regular routine. My recent tentative-acceptance of coffee has helped me more than once with this waking up business. With this I will also try not to look at lit screens so much within an hour of going to bed, I’m confident in the research that this stimulates our brains to keep working and I don’t need my gears turning any more than they already do. My exception for this is making sure my alarm is set and the weather for the following day is checked as well for traffic and wardrobe planning.


 

Those are all my hardened resolutions but I have some goals I hope to accomplish in the next six-months to a year.

Learn moderately well how to work with Adobe Audition, Animate, Premiere Pro and Illustrator while brushing up on my Photoshop skills. The tutorials adobe offers are amazingly helpful so far. The video’s on Lydia.com have been the most informational and the variety covered seems to be relevant to what someone could do with the software.

Manage my time better! This isn’t in the resolutions because I don’t know how to do it immediately or learn it immediately. I have time for everything I take on, I just dilly-dally doing silly things or I get distracted and subsequently enthralled. I do have mild ADD but I’ve been unmedicated for so long it’s just a trial and error process with time management. I may try to use my calendar function on my phone more effectively, but I’m not sure that’s the right way. On the other hand, I just ignore a paper planner completely. It’s very easy to not write something down or not look something up when I should be working on a project. Having a job that requires adaptation to change every day is not really the best way to adapt as an adult and learn how to manage time effectively.

Cook More! I cook, but not a lot. If I do cook, it’s boring same old things that I get tired of the leftovers very quickly. I hope to be able to have more herbs growing in my indoor mini-garden so I can feel more at liberty to ‘spice things up’ so to speak.

Read more! This past semester I have nearly completely neglected my recreational reading. I’ve maybe read a few chapters total, I could have probably gotten through a few books if I was able to manage my time more effectively. I really enjoy reading and have probably 50 books waiting on my kindle to be delved into but I just haven’t allotted energy and time to focus on them. I have every intention of allowing myself my leisure reading in the future.

Bike more! I’ve been seeing bicycle commuters some mornings and they are few and far between but now that I know they exist, I will be trying to get on my 2-wheeled blue beauty more.  I’m always happier when I’m able to get outside and enjoy the day.

Motobecane Phantom Cross, my blue beauty
Motobecane Phantom Cross, My Blue Beauty


 

I’m sure I will come up with more goals and potential resolutions but this is all I have on my list for now.

Why ICT?

Do you know why it’s called ICT?

One of the first things I learned when I moved to Wichita was that some people swap the title Wichita and ICT, seemingly inexplicably to me. Then I learned, when Wichita Intercontinental Airport was being given it’s designation the FCC prohibited airports from having a name with the letters “K” or “W” in the call sign, thus ICT was born.

My official residence in Wichita, KS began last June. It took me some weeks to move here slowly and in loads driven down from Manhattan, KS: “the Little Apple” they call it. I knew since I was very young that Wichita was the famed “largest city in Kansas!”

First impressions of Wichita were that yes, it was large and I am seriously directionally challenged-often lost in this maze of a place. I had grown up in a place that for most of my life had no mall. To be in a city that had not one, but two! Wowza!

Quite a marvelous feat, I thought, to be able to support two whole malls and still not have them be the sole epicenter of shopping and livelihood. There was so much potential for varieties of food and to meet people of all sorts from around the globe (potentially mind you).

The magic and wonderment dwindled with robust rapidity. I could not and still can not find a satisfactory truly Greek restaurant in town to serve a magnificent Greek pasta. The political and religious diversity leaves quite a lot to be desired. My first solace was found at a restaurant, in a glass of sangria. I hadn’t had many glasses of sangria in my day, but dang it was mighty good and hit the olfactory nerves I needed hitting just then. The sangria was poured divinely by my server Bradley. Bradley didn’t make me feel like the sad lonely person sitting by herself in the middle of a summer day on a restaurant patio. He happily came out to make sure I was doing alright, and we made the best small talk I could have hoped for. Bradley became the reason I would return to that restaurant, and I told him if the food was better I would have gone to see him more.

Bradley is now on to bigger and better things than that first restaurant I met him at over a year ago. He has been my go-to guide since my relocation. I have been given hope that not everyone in Wichita lives in their own little bubble of a life and bemoans anytime they have to drive “all the way across town!”  

My dearest Bradley is what I would consider a Wichita native. He dislikes the label. Bradley is old enough to know what’s what and has had a less than easy life by most standards. For a time he was homeless in Colorado when he was still technically in his teens. Having divorced parents has put him in different homes across two states more than once, he’s not alone.

When Bradley was just two years old he made his first arrival in Wichita. Subsequently he has returned to reside here eight times, that he can recall directly. After many discussions, he and I have conceded that it is relatively less expensive to live in Wichita than a large portion of Kansas, assuming city living. I chatted briefly with Bradley this past week on his thoughts and opinions about Wichita, from a mostly Wichita-native point of view.

 

When I first arrived to Wichita, I genuinely didn’t a motorized vehicle. I didn’t need one in Manhattan- it’s a very small city. So, I was absurd in assuming that Wichita, being such a vast metropolis would be more commuter and bicycle commuter friendly. Public transportation surely! I was wrong, more than dead wrong, I should have done more research. Silly me.

 

According to BikeLeague.org which has the League of American Bicyclists since 1880, Kansas as a state ranks 46 out of all 50. (inwardly I’m fuming, how did Oklahoma outrank us?!)

Who did we “beat?”

#47 South Carolina

#48 Kentucky

#49 Montana

#50 Alabama

 

In the entire state of Kansas there are only a grand total of three biking friendly communities; Lawrence, KS, Manhattan, KS, and Shawnee, KS. Boulder, Colorado tops the list in Biking Friendly communities with a population of approximately one-third that of Wichita. On the same list on Kansas’ biking un-friendliness, there is zero biking friendly universities, which is not surprising but still astonishing to me. There are 36 institutions that call themselves a University, not including community colleges that could have gotten some sort of biking friendly label, and none have done so.

Bikeability in Wichita is near impossible unless your commute is fairly direct-route. I seldom see an actual commuter unless I’m up at the ungodly hours when the sun is yet to crest the horizon. The lack of biking lanes, proper road maintenance, signals and motorist knowledge of bicyclers rights makes this city a very dangerous adventure to attempt to cycle-commute. More power to those who can manage it, I salute you!

Bradley shares a car with his partner, but often is on his bicycle to and from work. He and I lament at length that the Wichita Transit System could make a world of difference in this city, if it were improved. Not only for traffic congestion! In Bradley’s words,

“If I could change something in Wichita it would probably be the public transportation system, ‘cause it just sucks.”

If the city were able to expand and increase the bus routes they have, then more riders would be inclined and able to utilize the system. I take the bus to school in hopes of making myself stay on campus to get more work done in a study-friendly environment. I also don’t want to pay to park or deal with parking space hunting. The bus that traverses campus is regularly crowded, especially in the morning and mid afternoons. Currently the East 17th Street bus does hourly loops. There is usually two buses going on the loop at any given time. The city buses have free wifi and are not nearly as bad as some cities have it, I do not suggest G searching for dirty bus photos. The buses can only hold two bikes on the racks mounted to the fronts. There is only room for two wheelchairs on each bus and often the East 17th Street bus is late. Too many riders, too many stops needed for them to get on and off, and the cycle perpetuates itself. No one wants to ride if they’re going to be late, so ridership declines.

On the other hand, I don’t enjoy taking the 6:20am bus as I am the opposite of a morning person. But I have to make sure I’m not late to my 8am course. If I chance the 7:20am bus I risk being late, I’ll pass on that embarrassment for the most part, thanks. I would love a city that was more accessible without a car, most biking paths are ones you have to either ride to or risk the city streets to get to. If I could have a public transportation wish in the world right now, it might include wishing people who rode the bus would get off when someone else pulls the stop requested signal, two blocks away from where they need to be and just get off and walk instead of adding seemingly twenty extra stops. And more buses.

I’m the minority on the bus, I am a college-aged female who happens to be caucasian of a very pale sort. The majority of my fellow bus riders are not my race. Where I grew up, I was also the minority in school and in my neighborhood. It almost feels like home. Almost. There is such a feeling of discomfort when my fellow bus riders would rather stand than sit in the politely empty seat next to me. Then I see a career-dressed younger white female who won’t move her purse for a toddler to have a seat. I feel that if bus riding were utilized by everyone more readily people could be happier with their fellow bus riders, happier with their city and the opportunities available to them even though they might live on the “wrong” side of town. I still ride with a hopeful mindset that the city surely isn’t as segregated as it has seemed for the past year.

Buses don’t run past 7pm on weekdays, on Saturday the buses stop at 6pm. There is no Sunday bus services. If you work in customer service, retail, food service or a labor job you are almost certainly working past 7pm on at least some weekdays and almost always are required to be available on Sundays. If Wichita was more realistic in their transportation for the public, I suggest asking the public which uses their transportation first, to meet the needs of the people, not the ones who have fat pockets.

In 2013 Wichita held a rate of unemployment at 6.4% and the median household income was just shy of $50k. The average ticket for a movie at Wichita area Warren Movie Theatres is $10. Going to the Sedgwick County Zoo for an adult runs $13.95 before tax. Going to a public golf course can run the gamut in prices, fees and equipment. The activities available for people to be social and enjoy the city are limited and can be quite costly. If the city as a whole wanted to be able to create more economic growth or simply satisfaction in the city we live in, the way we traverse the city seems like a good place to start in my mind.

For now, I’ll catch the 6:20am bus twice a week and deal with what I can. Maybe during my stay here things will change, I can only hope.

-K.