I was pleasantly surprised to open the DNR this morning and discover a very evocative Open Forum piece in favor of an extended greenway. We’re always thrilled to see more energy and understanding for the benefits greenways will bring our area. Read below Mwizenge S. Tembo’s childhood memories of riding safely in beautiful rural South Africa and why an extended greenway would be a dream come true for him.
Yes, Extend the Greenway
My mother and sisters were almost finished preparing breakfast in our household in rural Zambia in Southern Africa at 7 a.m. My father gave me 10 cents to go buy a loaf of bread at our nearest Molozi grocery store six miles away. I was always excited because I could use my father’s sturdy but fast Humber British bike that was otherwise off limits. I would spank the bike so fast I could hear the wheels and spokes whining sounds as the pleasant wind blew in my face. I would zigzag through the narrow bush path into the dirt road. This leg of the trip was mostly downhill. Coming back, however, required more effort. But it didn’t matter since I was young and strong. I was back in less than an hour. We ate our family breakfast at 8 a.m. I enjoyed riding the bike in the open savannah as recently as December 2012.
Fast forward a few decades later. It was a sunny spring day in 1999, perfect for riding a bike in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. I rode about 23 miles in the back roads and was heading home to Bridgewater riding on the very edge of a narrow road, when a huge semi-truck whizzed by, a few inches from my elbow. I swerved away into the bush over the sharp jagged edges of the paved shoulder less road. I was not hurt. My heart was in my throat. I was scared. I had not heard the truck because of the wind. It could have hit me or I could have swerved into it, sustaining serious or even fatal injuries. I was so shaken that from that time I have never ridden a bike on any roads however sunny and pleasant the day.
It was almost a dream come true to read several articles recently about the Greenway, which suggested that the bike and pedestrian path should run from North Harrisonburg, along Blacks Run Creek, southward to Monger Park and Mount Crawford linking Purcell Park, Pleasant Valley, through Bridgewater to Dayton. It is such a marvelous idea many residents likely can’t stop dreaming about it (“Let’s Think Big And Expand The Greenway,” April 5).
The possibility that all of us could get out of our boxes that are our homes and automobiles, and ride our bicycles and walk freely without worrying about cars in the open fresh air during spring, summer and especially the fall just seems almost an impossible dream that would be too good to be true in this jaded age.
The Greenway bike and pedestrian path would provide plenty of safe exercise and entertainment for everyone including families with children as young as five. Exercise and physical activity can solve minor health problems such as obesity, minor constipation, headaches, insomnia, minor physical therapy needs, and some of those bad moods or the blues and minor depression. Absorbing vitamin D from the sun would be good. Once children learn to exercise this way, they will probably do
it for the rest of their lives.
This would be a boon for our energetic restless youths, who may have nothing informal with which to occupy themselves other than computers and cell phones. The project would help sustain our environment, create new businesses, generate income and jobs for Harrisonburg, Bridgewater and Dayton. It could also attract tourists from around the Valley and the state. This is a rare win-win project, which everyone in the community should get behind.
Mwizenge S. Tembo lives in Bridgewater. Posted: May 11, 2013 at dnronline.com.