Typically my commute to work is about 32 miles. It could be worse, could be better. However, one day last week I was invited to a meeting that took place 3 miles from my home.
Seizing the moment, I pursued the dream of being able to ride my bike to work. Since it was a discussion about sustainability, I thought it only appropriate that I hop on the Ole’ Schwinn cruiser and play human frogger down Fulton Street. The route was all downhill so I didn’t have to worry about being “fresh” when I arrived.
I had correctly predicted the content of the meeting and the rewarding things we discussed. What caught me off guard, was the experience of actually being ON a bike rather then IN a car. There are measurable improvements that can be gained by better MPG or coffee cans as pencil cups. But a less tangible asset to a sustainable life is living in a healthier, stronger community. Riding in that day allowed me to feel more connected with my surroundings (and myself) than I clearly could have been otherwise. Like the tire connects with the road, I felt connected with my community.
Once I got past the “there goes another eco-zealoit on a bike” thing, I was greeted (warmly) by 8 complete strangers (yes I was counting). Some were walking dogs. Another lady was being escorted to her curbside car by her disheveled boy-friend. There was a dude moving his sprinkler.
I saw architectural details that were full of personal expression and rich with history. I found substantial relief in shade from trees (on the way back home… up that wicked hill). I re-kindled an appreciation for all my senses while dodging sidewalk cracks, and listening for approaching cars. The smells changed dramatically as I carved past a rampant azalea bush and ducked under a massive blue spruce and some white pines. And… I got a work out.
It’s wrong for me to assume you can try this sometime… but try it sometime. Even if it’s riding your bike to the end of the drive for your mail or up to the corner market for a jar of paprika. If that doesn’t work, grab one of your back-packs and use your feet to fetch that quart of mayonnaise… you’ll end up filling your bag with groceries and your emotions with fulfillment.
For those of us submerged in creating places… perhaps we should give more thought to accommodating easier recycling centers or the best place to stash a cotton shopping bag. The easier we make if for others to embark upon experiences like this, the better our community is served.
(I’ve driven by this 2,347 times and never seen it)
(easy maintenance color)
(gargoyles… right in my neighborhood… go figure)
(shade… so simple but so appreciated)