Last night I decided that I needed to get back into the routine of riding my bike to work so this morning I was up an extra half hour early and on my bike for my daily commute. I can still remember the first time I rode my bike to elementary school back in the late 1970s and the thrill I felt as a youngster as I got to school under my own power. I still feel that thrill to this day when I ride my bike to work.
There’s a certain amount of planning involved with doing this environmentally friendly peddle pushing. This is the first time that I’ve ridden my bike to this job and there’s a dress code expectation of sorts that has to be met, so prepping for the ride involved planning and packing clothes that wouldn’t get exceedingly wrinkled while in a small backpack, plus I needed to pick the right shoes that would dangle off the bottom of my back pack without creating too much discomfort in that area.
Another first for me today is this is the first time I’ve ever packed my laptop for a bike ride. I usually dash home at lunch but there’s no “dashing” when one is on a bicycle, so I opted to walk our fine downtown and take advantage of the free wi-fi service they recently unveiled. It’s a little slow, but it does the trick.
Downtown Utica has become an interesting study for several reasons. First of all, it’s suffering from the aftermath of a propserous turned disasterous urban renewal plan from the 1970s. During this project of over 30 years ago, many of the historic buildings were razed and cement-chic buildings popped up in their place. Unfortunately some of these buildings, as well as their remaining older counterparts, are currently empty as businesses close down or relocate to the commercially prosperous suburb of New Hartford. What was once a busy downtown retail area has been replaced by an apartment building, several office buildings and countless empty storefronts. There’s also a relatively modern hotel that seems to be holding on, though with the construction of a new Hampton Inn underway, I don’t know how long it’s going to be able to hold it’s own.
It was only three or four years ago that you would see hot dog carts and whatnot on the street at lunch time. I used to be able to walk around the downtown area and see lots of people walking from their office to one of the several lunch counters. Today none of that is to be found. I guess the office workers in this area are brown bagging it or going to one of the newer chain restaurants in the suburbs. There are just a few people on the sidewalk. I’m sitting in the courtyard at the State Office Building. I’m one of five people here. This building has 16+ floors of offices. It’s 12:23 in the afternoon. You’d think there’d be more people out here enjoying the beautiful weather and a lunch.
I’m hesitant to admit it but I hope that Earl and I stick around long enough to see this city turn itself around.