Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The View from My Bicycle

In late April, I had my bike tuned up and repaired. Since then I have been whizzing around my neighborhood on two wheels. It is fantastic. Yes, in the humidity I return sweaty, but I always return from a bike ride energized and amazed by the power of my own body to move me from one place to another. Biking I’m aware of the nature of the land on which I live. From my car, I think that I live someplace flat, but on my bike, I realize that I live atop a small hill that overlooks a creek. I know that I am at the bottom of a small valley from either of the main roads that bound my street. To get to the gym, I have to ride uphill most of the way there, and on the way home I can coast. In the early mornings, I can bike to the bank and the post office if I leave before 7 a.m. and never encounter traffic from the morning commute.

There are challenges to bike riding, though. Cars are not comfortable with bicycles. They do not estimate how long it takes us to move and how to accommodate our sharing of the road. I joke each time I return that I have narrowly escaped the tattoo of a Lexus or Toyota on my side or face or leg. There is something dangerous about bike riding on city streets. I talk though to cars with open windows and my brakes make noise, which helps when cars cut me off. At least there is a realization that we almost had a collision and perhaps the driver will look more closely next time.

Since the first of March, however, I’ve put just 750 miles on my car. That to me is worth each close miss between people’s cars and my bike. Fewer car miles and stronger legs. That’s what things look like from my bicycle.

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