Tuesday, August 19, 2008

the two-wheeled justice

des moines just got a whole lot more bicycle friendly!

Des Moines, August 13, 2008—Governor Culver has appointed Des Moines attorney Richard H. Doyle, Des Moines, to the Iowa Court of Appeals. Doyle, 58, will fill the vacancy that will occur when Judge Van Zimmer retires September 4, 2008.
Doyle has worked in the private practice of law since 1977. Prior to working in private practice he served as Assistant Attorney General for the Iowa Department of Justice in the Criminal Appeals Division.
He earned a bachelor of arts in political science from Drake University in 1971. He received his law degree from Drake University Law School in 1976. He served as staff member of the Drake Law Review.

. . . . .

yeah, yeah, yeah; that's all fine; but press releases never tell you what REALLY matters, but today's sermonette always does!

rick and his wife, debbie, are the parents of two kids, kerry [who lives in oregon] and her brother [who lives in chicago and whose name i never can remember]. i first met the doyles when i worked at zanzibar's with kerry. debbie was a morning regular [2% iced latte to go], and she and rick would often come in evenings. debbie is a huge elvis fan, and rick has always been an enormous cycling enthusiast. we talked about bikes and racing and all subjects bicycles on a regular basis, rick and i. while kerry and i were working together, she found a mixte frame bike, i recall, and fixed it up. she rode that found bike all over [she was hooked]. when she moved to oregon, she got into the fixed gear scene, and started riding all over, including seattle to portland, as i recollect. a 200-mile ride on a fixie. truly nuts.

her folks were supportive and skeptical, but rick, i detected, was really quite thrilled and proud of her. so as she took off and started getting more and more into it, and riding bikes all over the northwest, rick spoke with me about his old blue schwinn [seen above, rick bought it new], and about buying a new road bike. i told him to go for it, but by all means to keep this bike, and think about converting it to a single speed or a fixed gear bike.

he did, and after having both new road bike and new old singlespeed to ride, like the kid he is, he confessed that he has more fun riding the old bike.

and that's how it ought to be.

since the word got out about the formation and opening of the des moines bike kollective, rick has been as enthusiastic AND actively participating supporter of the place as there can be. he has personally been responsible for bringing approaching, what, rick, maybe a couple dozen bikes to the shop? he was the first to adopt a bike shop--rassmussen's on grand--BEFORE i made the request to have folks adopt a bike shop. he regularly stops by, checking to see what bikes are there for donation, and he brings them down. he pounds the pavement and buzzes the phone lines shaking down his neighborhood association and others for their unridden bikes. additionally, rick is regularly out on the trail, under the poorly-designed and constructed bridge under grand avenue at 1st/63d street, cleaning the mud, sand, and muck away after floods. he has lobbied the city to do more on a regular basis to maintain its trail system. i would be remiss if i failed to mention that he and debbie are regular listeners of the kim west radio cycling show sunday nights on kxno AM1460.

rick not only talks the talk, but he rides the ride. rick doyle gets it. he understands the need for both bike trails AND integrated bicycle traffic on public streets. he does something about it.

. . . . .

the city of des moines is struggling to have itself declared as a "bike friendly community." it has been told repeatedly that while building bike trails and painting bike lanes is laudible, until there is descernible and lasting institutional change, it will not be truly bike friendly. we need role models in high and public places who not only lavish praise and support upon bicycle riders, but who TRULY EMBRACE bicycles and bicycle riding as a significant and respectible lifestyle, who see bicycles as a viable and NECESSARY component of a vibrant urban environment, AND who are sufficiently committed to that end to influence OTHERS to do likewise.

for example, suppose des moines chief of police judy bradshaw issued a directive that "ALL city of des moines police officers shall recognize bicyclists as rightful users of city streets, and shall enforce reckless driving laws against motorists who use their motor vehicles in such a way to intimidate or harass a bicyclist."

wouldn't THAT be grand? THAT would be a big step toward des moines becoming a bike friendly community.

. . . . .

i have no idea what kind of justice rick doyle will be on the iowa court of appeals; we have not, in our many hours of conversation talked about the hot-button legal topics of the day. but i DO know this: for the first time EVER, the state of iowa will have a high court member who knows how to convert an old ten-speed to a singlespeed bike, and knows how to enjoy riding it. we are likely for the first time ever to have a court of appeals justice to commutes to work on a regular basis on an old single speed schwinn--even in winter!

and THAT is what will help make des moines a bike friendly community. i could not be more proud of, and happy for, rick and debbie doyle, and delighted for the state of iowa.

we will have one of us sitting up there in a black robe.

congratulations, rick!

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