An exasperated driver next to me exclaimed, “Really!?! Guy, really!?!” I had pushed the pedestrian crosswalk button and a car had stopped about 3 feet away from the painted lines - right in front of the other driver who was wanting to make a left hand turn. I only heard this driver because his window was open, but I felt his frustration, the other driver didn’t even appear to notice. I walked my bike across the street to a fish taco stand and tried to give the would be left turn driver a sympathetic look but I don’t think he noticed.
Contrast the above with the following exchange.
“Target and Big 5 right?” Bob, a road trip biker I had just met asked me from across the street. “We’re going in the right direction right?”
“Yeah,” I called back and smiled. “Have a good trip!”
May is National Bike Month in the US. I’d never really paid attention to it before but thanks to the wonders of the internet and to the folks at Pembaserves and their #CarFreeMe movement on Twitter, I especially wanted to bike to do my errands today instead of drive.
What followed was not only a bit of exercise for me but a reminder that shutting oneself up in a car can cause a disconnect with those around you.
It was such a pleasant ride. Part of my ride takes me along a beach bike path, when I travel on it I always wistfully think that it would be great if this was how the majority of folks traveled. I passed 3 bikers going the other way, one had panniers, one a handle bar basket and one had a plastic shopping bag hanging from the handle bars. It seems others were out doing errands/commuting and were not just out for leisure as well.
I couldn’t help but smile at the other cyclists, they nodded or smiled back.
In town I waited in line at an ATM as a guy in front of me did his transaction, his bike propped up on its kick stand next to him. When he turned to leave he did a double take seeing me holding my bike, I’d like to think there was a flash of “fellowship recognition” there. Unfortunately this was marred with me realizing I had forgotten my ATM card. I ended up having to move my bike to the back of the bank and going inside.
My next stop was a local outdoor gear shop, I wanted to check their sale racks in preparation for an
upcoming climbing road trip in Utah. I didn’t see anything I wanted and left, getting my bike from the bike rack out front just as two guys pulled up in cycling gear with luggage laden bikes. “I think you guys have come from a lot farther than I have,” I said nodding at the bike trailer and then indicating my little mini purse (I usually bring a backpack but didn’t this time).
“Well, we came from Utah” one of the riders said with a laugh.
Turns out these guys were from Florida and were on a bike trip which started in Utah. They were on the last part of it, which ended in LA. It was just the two of them and I was impressed with their packing. After a short conversation we split up until I saw them again when they asked for reassurance they were going the right way.
If I had driven to the store I would have gone straight to my car, instead I got to meet some interesting folks.
Moral to the story? I’m not sure if there is one, except that biking to do my errands put me in a happy, “the world can be an OK place” frame of mind and I wish more folks could experience it.
National Bike Month was a good idea. And, while I’m not going to propose my climbing buds and I bike to Utah for our road trip, I do intend to keep biking locally. Every little bit counts I say, both for the environment and our sense of community.
By the way, you can read about Bob and Ben’s ride at Bob’s blog here.