Thursday, December 08, 2005

Avid rhymes with rabid

“You’re my hero”, my cubicle neighbour told me yesterday morning.
“I didn’t take my bike today”, I said.

Lately it’s become somewhat of a challenge to take a vow of bus-and-car abstinence and I'm not talking about the riding conditions. After many cold weeks of riding my bike to work, I haven’t gotten used to people (mostly strangers) treating me as if I were somehow not right in the head. Nonetheless I took a vow and I intend to keep it, whenever possible.

I go everywhere by bike: errands, social engagements, work, play, exercise, shop, even for job interviews – everyday: rain, shine, snow, slush or wind. I allow a few exceptions: freeze rain, heavy objects to carry, blizzard, funerals.

Don’t think I’m doing this out of respect for the environment. I’m happy to cut down on greenhouse-gas pollution and traffic congestion, but save your praise for my high morals: you see, I love riding my bike more than life itself. It helps that I have an awesome black and white Devinci. To be honest, if my bike generated pollution like a car I would still ride it. It gives me a sense of freedom.

But it comes at a high price: When I approach salespeople wearing my biking shoes (with metal cleats) clicking on the linoleum tile, cashier girls stop and stare. While men will usually compliment me on my bravery, girls will feel sorry for me. I'm not especially sensitive to critical stares, but I’m starting to wonder if there's a problem with people's mentality regarding cyclists in this city/country. Stares are only the tip of the iceberg; I won't tell you how many time cars have been aggressive towards me with slaps on my back, riding very close to me, shouts in my ear and the like. At least winter seems to have tempered their fury.

In a few weeks I will move to a new neighbourhood outside Ottawa and I don’t have to tell you that living outside of the city will pose a certain challenge to me. I still need to be able to walk or cycle to the grocery store to buy food, and it will be hard to let that go. Suburbia is closing in on all sides, with more housing developments every year. The good thing is that people are talking about building sustainable neighbourhoods next to where I will be living. To me, that means: not having to ride 2 miles to the grocery store, 4 miles to my favourite bar and 6 miles to a park. It will take several years to see the project built but in the meantime, I’ll be riding a lot of miles, but as it turns out, the mileage won’t be the problem. Staying zen about people’s attitude might be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said: "I love riding my bike more than life itself".

I hope there is a few bicycles in Paradise...


9:51 AM  
Blogger Caro said...

Kine, je t'admire. J'aime ce texte et il me donne presque le goût de faire du bicycle pour me rendre à ma job. Si j'étais plus matinale, je le ferais...peut-être dans des conditions météo idéales!

As-tu vu le film 2 secondes? Je crois que tu aimerais! Bon vendredi (moi j'ai pris congé pour éviter le burn-out!)

9:58 AM  

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