I really enjoy keeping this almost journal-like record of my transformation into a transportational cyclist. I’m fully aware that someday I’ll look back on this post and roll my eyes a bit, just as now I can go read this (was that really just three months ago?) and roll my eyes.
I’m very good at rolling my eyes. (just ask my parents, circa 1998).
Last night, Jeff and I had a couple Very Important Errands to run in the Loop – I wanted to grab a book at Subterranean, and we both agreed that FroYo was absolutely vital to our continued survival on this earth. (This happens with alarming frequency)
As we stretched out on the couch, shoes kicked off, relaxing and talking about our adventures of the day, I planned our evening – “OK I’ll fix dinner and then after a bit we’ll ride on down to the Loop and get FroYo. Yes?”
I could see the look in Jeff’s eyes. That telltale hint of protest and defiance that I’ve come to know all too well (one which usually surfaces when I suggest spending a lot of money – or time – on something he deems unworthy).
Without a moment’s pause – which would have given him the chance to voice this protest – I told him, “If you even suggest driving, I’ll bash you over the head with your front fork. We are going to ride. The last time we drove, it took us ten minutes to find a parking spot and we ended up walking four blocks anyway. Don’t be stupid.”
It’s good that we have this tender, loving relationship, you see. Because rather than leap to his own defense or dash downstairs and wrest my own front fork for a great Battle of the Bike Components, Jeff merely sighed (long-sufferingly, of course).
Later that evening we made the three-minute ride to the Loop, and within minutes had our bikes locked to a lightpost and were sitting outside FroYo, eating delicious tart frozen yogurt.
But what’s the point of that anecdote?, you may ask. Well, aside from the obvious FroYo promotion, it handily illustrates the transportational cyclist’s mindset.
Even though Jeff has been a commuter cyclist for much longer than I, he actually seems to have a bit more limited mindset. He rides to class most days, but whenever he actually needs to *go somewhere*, I think his first instinct is still to hop in the car.
However, my viewpoint – for all the short time I’ve been holding it – is rather the opposite: since I bike every single day – rain or shine – in a skirt and heels (heck, I even rode to my job interview a couple months ago!), it seems like a natural extension of the process for me to bike (and take the MetroLink when necessary/helpful) in order to go out to dinner, or run to DSW, or even go to a work event in a hilly part of town. At some point in the recent past, I’ve flipped that mental switch – my thought process is not “can I bike for this?” but “is there any reason I have to take a car?” More often than not – especially as my legs grow stronger – the answer is “no!”
I’m not saying this to put Jeff down at all, or brag about myself – I’m just pointing out an interesting divergence of mindset. I hope – and have even noticed – that the longer I set this example, the more frequently Jeff will play along.
Soon, hopefully, he’ll be the one insisting we ride instead of drive!
Cyclists, where are you at in the continuum? Car-centric? Car-light? Car-free? Where would you like to be?