Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Car Free Week
I did a week without my car.
You notice things on the bike, things you'll miss in a car. Like a satanic Nissan cube. Guaranteed, people drive past this guy all the time and never notice this particular boxy economy car is a servant of the Dark Lord.
You also have interesting interactions going by bike. I was riding up the 12th Street bridge (middle deck), on my way to Porchfest, and there was a guy sitting on the tailgate of a moving pickup with a harness on, and everyone else in the bed had a camera of some sort, video, still, etc. The pickup was being tailed by a Camaro. I asked what the harness was for. Base jumping?
Yes, the guy said. I'm base jumping.
Parachute or bungee? I asked. Because really, the 12th Street Bridge ain't all that tall. Or easily climbed. He said, yeah, bungee, I'm gonna climb up and jump.
I didn't believe him, but I got my camera out in case he did something interesting. He took a video camera from someone else in the truck and had the Camaro chase him down the road and back up. Making a movie, I guess.
Anyway, I went on to Porchfest and had a great time. On my way there, a car slowed by me and rolled down the window to say, 'We see you riding all over town, you put a smile on our face every time.'
And that's the part that gets left out sometimes when you're a blogger and a transportational/touring cyclist. Yes, there are stupid cunts driving cars (and even more driving SUVs and overgrown pickup trucks), and some of them are dangerous in addition to being stupid. But they're a minority, they have to be because society wouldn't even function if a significant number of people were such aggressive shitheads. I sometimes think the whole thing will come crashing down but it hasn't so far, and according to at least one Supreme Court Justice, we've had 5,000 years for stupid cunts to bring human civilization to an end. I guess there may have been a close call or two, but basically we're still chugging along, probably for many times as long as Scalia gives us credit for.
But the positive interactions way, way outweigh the negative. I get cheered on for going green, for my Hawaiian shirts, for greeting people with the brass bell on my handlebars, for the helmet mohawk (the most common call I hear is 'nice hat!').
I got a lot of love at the Porchfest. Random kids came up and said they liked my bike, or my helmet. Women said flirtatious things to me, one pressed a glass of red wine into my hand because she liked my helmet.
I ran into an old friend as I was leaving Porchfest, and we found an afterparty and had a couple of rounds and some appetizers, and I rode off to go home. On my way, the road was blocked off for an Irish festival at Browne's on Pennsylvania. A guy said I should go in to check it out and I was like, dude, I'm already half drunk and wore out, plus the sign says it's fifteen bucks. He said, here's a free ticket.
He said, just buy a beer or something while you're in there. So I bought some drink tokens, but before I could get a drink with them, some stranger came up and insisted on guying me a drink because he liked my bike so much.
There was Bailey's, Tullamore Dew, Jameson's you don't have to twist my arm, right? A second person insisted on buying me a round. I tried to buy him one instead, but he wasn't having it and, well, sláinte.
I got asked to take people's pictures. I got invited to join a hurling league—that's a stretch. I embrace my Hibernian ancestry such as it is, but I don't feature myself engaged what looks like the extra violent bastard lovechild of field hockey and rugby.
This was all part of a weekend in my car-free week. Nothing I engaged in would have been enhanced by my car, and in fact I benefited wildly in every way (mobility, ease of parking, free drinks) from not having my car with me. Plus, while I will confess I was impaired when I left Browne's to pedal my way home, nobody pulls a bicycle over to see if the guy is blowing hot. The only person I was menacing even a little bit was me.