by Jack Diablo
Go Downtown and you’re bound to observe a variety of cyclists taking to the streets. Whether commuters or those riding for pleasure, more and more people are proving that Jacksonville can become a bikeable city. The entire urban core, including the neighborhoods of San Marco, Riverside and Springfield, is accessible by bicycle if you don’t mind vying with motorists for your share of the road. If dodging traffic isn’t your thing, the North Bank Riverwalk is an excellent ride that links Downtown to Five Points and keeps you completely off the busy streets. At night during the week you can easily bike around Downtown due to the lack of traffic. One group of night owls gathers every Thursday for a late night tour of the urban jungle.
Midnight Mass was started four years ago by Joe Gaskin and some other avid cyclists. “The purpose of Mass is a fun ride,” Joe said. “It’s an excuse to get together on a night with typically not much to do and ride bikes with friends.” The ride is open to all enthusiasts and usually ends at a local bar just before last call.
Joe Gaskin is also a co-founder of the Zombie Bikes Bike Shop on Main Street in Springfield. Just up the road from Downtown, it is partly responsible for the influx of bicycles seen in the area. Started about a year ago, Zombie adheres to their motto of “bringing bikes back from the dead.” The shop is run by volunteer mechanics who sacrifice their time and energy to keep people on bicycles. “We provide a space, tools and used and donated parts for the community to work on their bikes or build a bike,” said Gaskin. Anyone can use the facility’s tools, request a guided repair or attend one of their workshops. Zombie is located in the BBB Complex at 1520 Main Street and runs entirely on donations.
Jacksonville has a long way to go before it becomes a genuinely bike-friendly town, but urban cycling is possible and a lot of fun. So dust off that old bike, hop on it and go for a ride!
by Jack Diablo