Time was, I lived in the country and didn’t have a driver’s license. That was a long time ago.
Then there was a good length of time that I lived in the city and didn’t have a car. Even that was a long time ago.
But it’s written in my bones, this memory of bicycle-as-transport. Not just “going for a ride” but “going somewhere”. Going out for dinner – on a bike. Getting the groceries, going to school, even going to work. Burlington, Waterloo, Kitchener, Fredericton… places that I knew on two wheels. Feet onto the ground, back onto the pedals, hand signals, backpacks, limited to transporting what-I-can-carry.
A few weeks ago I got to the page in my book (which I still insist I am writing) where I had to acknowledge that the bicycle, compared to the car, is a technology more appropriate/conducive to peace in the world. It’s more accessible, it can be used for many things, it reconnects us to our bodies, it slows us down… or rather, it prevents us from speeding up as much as we are able to when relying on fossil fuels. Nothing’s perfect; it still was hauled out of the ground… it is not that I am seeking no impact, it is that I am seeking a justifiable level of impact. And I drive (and fly, these days) rather a lot.
Thus, to reconnect with my bicycle.
It is a human-scaled technology, which moves us through the world in a particular way, at a particular pace… at a speed and location that are intimately connected with the landscape they move through. Or at least, more intimately than these hurtling boxes we (normally, many of us) inhabit.
I live by the water (yay!) Which means basically everything is uphill. (boo!)
The nearest thing that is useful is 5 km away (gas station, post office, liquor store, pizza, bakery, movie rental, convenience store, Sears outlet, and a little bit of hardware). But basically, it’s 16 km to everything else… which means I need to be able to knock off 32 km with a trailer attached and still do the shopping in the middle. Hopefully on one of the days that it isn’t raining too hard.
I might need a little encouragement.