Bike Paths and Walking

I am often asked why my novels involve bike paths.  In A Step Ahead of Death the murder victim is found just off the trail as it leads from town.  In Witness in the Window  (Here for Amazon) the novel begins with an attack on the bike path at night and the attacks continue, always on or near the bike path.

I don’t really have an obsession with my community’s bike paths, but I am deeply grateful for the miles of trails and paths developed in Lincoln, Nebraska, where I live.  The trails in Lincoln traverse over 130 miles and connect to softer surface trails that extend to many other communities.  The trails are shared by casual strollers to dedicated bike racers, so there are times when they almost seem congested. 2014-10-30 12.13.14

I was never slothful, but until my mid 40’s I didn’t really do much regular exercise.  A cousin of mine gave me the “slap upside the head” pointing out that I needed to get my act together.  I also thought back to a scout leader I once had, Mac McClannahan, who walked nearly everywhere.  He was a photographer for a local newspaper and I always admired his stamina.  I began walking during my work noon hours and could often get a 30 minute walk in before my afternoon schedule began.  That initial burst helped me to lose 30 pounds and I began to pay more attention to my own fitness.  I continue to walk on bike paths, sidewalks, roads and find this form of exercise to be very satisfying.  I don’t enjoy running and my knees don’t like it either, but walking does not cause me any physical discomfort.

I used to write descriptions of my walks along the paths.  Just for my own enjoyment.  Eventually I began to think about what it might be like to just keep walking.  One day I asked “what would happen if I found a dead body in the ditch?”  This led me to begin my first novel, A Step Ahead of Death.  This was accepted by Comfort Publishing and published in 2011.  It has done well, but I have recently purchased the rights to republish this novel.  I hope to make it available again later in the year.

The idea for the novel Witness in the Window occurred one day when I was walking in my neighborhood on the bike path.  As I walked by a house I saw an older man sitting in the window looking out.  I waved and he waved back.  He became a character in the novel.  I imagined him to be a Korean War veteran, unable to speak for several years.  He is the witness in the window.

Before I began walking I used to see people, from the window of my office, on the path and think, “I should be doing that.”  It just takes a little push sometimes to accomplish great things.  I have walked thousands of miles since I began my “journey” in the year 2000.  I’ve worn out shoes and watched the landscape change, but I can still walk as well and as fast as those first years.  Walking relaxes me.  When I get on the path, my day gets brighter and worries ease away.  Whatever it takes to motivate you to action, do it.  Get started.  Don’t wait or say, “I should have been doing that.”

Bike Path Etiquette and Safety

Despite the health benefits of exercising on bike paths there are some genuine risks involved.  While there are no motor vehicles allowed on bike paths, bicycles whiz by regularly.  Walkers should stay to the right side of the path as often as possible.  Bicyclers, likewise, should give adequate warning to the slower walkers and runners they may pass.

Bikers – please use a warning device such as a simple bell or horn and yell “On your left!” as you slow when approaching a slower path sharer.

Racing down paths shared by walkers and runners can lead to deadly collisions.  Save the racing for wide paths and out of town paths.

And, by all means, wear a helmet for your own sake

Walkers and runners – tune down your headphones and use “situational awareness” watch out for faster moving bicycles.  Listen for approaching bikes and don’t cross roads without looking. Staying to the right will help as well.

Don’t walk the paths alone at night and stick to better lighted sections for safety.

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About smcpherson58

Aside from loving chocolate and coffee (not necessarily in that order) Scott McPherson has learned that he loves to write. He writes fiction and, so far, has published two novels. Scott has many varied interests, though he tries to focus on one at a time. He has worked for nearly thirty-five years as a family physician, a pass-time that gives him great pleasure and pays the bills. He has five daughters and dotes upon three grandchildren. Recently married, he really loves life. Scott writes from his life experiences and from travel. His career in the active Air Force was brief, but he has been a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard since just before 9/11 in 2001. The aftermath of that great disaster changed the face of the Guard and led to missions in far-away lands. He has spent time in Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Crete and Guam in missions related to support for Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has been to Iceland and Antarctica as well. Scott has no personal experience with violent death or murder, but has gained knowledge from experts. In his first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death,” his character, Jack Sharp MD, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. First as suspect, then as amateur sleuth, Jack tries to make a difference. He finds himself right in the middle of an investigation well beyond the scope of a local murder. A man of faith, Scott traveled to Africa with his small family in the 1980s and served as a medical missionary in Zaire (known as Congo today) with a church organization. The vast difference in what it takes to exist in such an environment served as a basis for much of his second novel, a thriller, “Congo Mission.” His character, Jack, is twenty years younger than in the first novel. In “Congo Mission” Jack serves as a physician in a missionary hospital in the jungles of northwestern Zaire. There he is not only captivated by a young woman visiting the region, but falls victim to his nemesis Jacques Levant. His motivations and faith are tested and his resolve to do God’s work gets pushed to the limit. When he is not writing Scott enjoys walking, a practice that actually led to his first attempt at writing a novel. He began making notes and writing prose about the mundane things around him. He tried to make the details sound interesting, even though it was just for his own pleasure. Eventually he found that he could expand his prose to “what if?” “What if I just kept walking?” “What if I, or my character, found a dead body in the ditch along the side of the path?” That was the premise for the first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death.” Scott McPherson is an avid trombone player and has played since he was nine years old. He marched in the Cornhusker Marching Band at the University of Nebraska and now takes advantage of one free football game a year by playing in the half-time show with the UNL Alumni Marching Band. He plays in the Lincoln Civic Orchestra and a community band from the nearby town of Waverly, Nebraska. Scott loves to sing as well, though his range seems to have diminished in recent years. He has sung in college and church choirs and remembers performing parts of Handel’s Messiah as a highlight of his singing experience. One little-known fact about Scott is that he once sang soprano in a boys choir. Scott plans to keep writing as long as the ideas flow and others show interest in his stories. He loves to interact with other writers or readers about what has become a passion in his life. Reviews are always welcome as are questions and comments.
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  1. I’ve been an inside biker for a few years now (recumbent bike). But you helped me confirm my commitment to start walking again this summer. Need the fresh air and sunshine to get the most out of exercise–so I gotta’ do it! Who knows, maybe I’ll think of a plot for a novel too!

    • smcpherson58 says:

      Thanks Teresa. I really feel like I’m not doing my best unless I get a good walk in. I’m working on my next novel (though it doesn’t involve a bike path)

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