Saturday, July 13, 2013

Roll Model: Jack Stenger

Whether on his Cannondale aluminum racing bike or vintage Free Spirit ten speed, Inman Park resident Jack Stenger enjoys group riding both serious and social, believing, as Manfred Mann sang, "That's where the fun is." The Outback, CVS and Tucker rides are favorites in the fast company of L5Flyers, but Sundays find him bar hopping with The Scorchers, "a very inclusive and not very intimidating bike gang" led by "Big John" Braswell. "Members confidently say they are Atlanta’s preeminent bike gang," claims Stenger, who hastens to add that they have yet to encounter a rival group.

An educator, Stenger rode to classes and concerts in his college days at the University of Georgia. A favorite memory of California living is a weekend spent racing and touring in the Bay Area. “San Francisco is like Atlanta is like Barcelona is like Savannah is like New York – they’re all best seen and experienced on bikes.” Now nine years an Atlantan, he continues to run errands on two wheels. While acknowledging the environmental benefits of cycling he opines, "More to the point, it’s good for commerce, it’s good for a sense of adventure, it’s good for cultivating a sense of freedom, it’s great for meeting new people. Bottom line? Navigating the urban environment on a bike is a lot more fun.”

Such habits became much easier for all of us last year with the completion of our Eastside Trail. Its 2.2 mile concrete ribbon links his neighborhood to Piedmont Park. More than a convenience, the in-town pedestrian corridor has given us an identity, he believes. “The Jersey Shore has its boardwalk for meeting and seeing people. Now we have the BeltLine for that.” A member of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Stenger supports Mayor Reed's bike-friendly initiatives. "The key is more built up infrastructure. The benefits are already being seen, even as Atlanta makes its first baby steps toward a glorious future that will involve more biking infrastructure and – correspondingly – more cycling."

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