Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I Am A Bike Commuter

First, though, a report on our early morning ride. What a glorious day. The sky was clear as day even though it was still night. The moon was nearly as bright as any sun and as we rode home the sun was rising gloriously. A perfect 41 degree morning, we didn't let the 16 mile an hour winds slow us down (much). It just put a great beginning on the first work day of the New Year. Then after cleaning up I switched bikes, took the Citizen folding bike, and rode off to work. Today is a day that I teach a lunch-time Bible class at one of the Center City Law Offices, so just the kind of day I wanted to have to test out the possibilities of getting around town with the new bike. It will be a relatively short ride over to the Parkway area and then fold up the bike and see how it feels to march into the building carrying the bike. Meanwhile, when I arrived at the office my new cotton dress knickers had arrived. Regular pockets, belt loops, they look just like regular pants until you get down to the ankle. Again, it's all a bit of an experiment to see what works best. I think regular dress pants with an ankle band will actually be more appropriate. The ride from home to work went without a problem, but that's only a few blocks. My trip to the law firm was also uneventful. I can unfold and assemble the bike in seconds. Riding in traffic along 18th street was a bit daunting, but I managed without incident. I use a messenger type bag to carry my books and I don't think I like the feel of it. I will try a backback next time, it feels liek it would give a more secure feeling.I did find, in the end, that it seems impossible not to ignore some traffic laws despite my predilection to have a commitment not to do so. But with the traffic and the aggressive driver's and, most of all, the impossible amount of double parking, I found it too tempting to zip down a few small one way streets where there was almost no cars. jump on the sidewalk at a few crucial moments, and jump red lights in order to get ahead of the traffic. Mea Culpa. Theoretically I'm really in favor of obeying all the laws, but survival takes precedence.In any case, I arrived at my destination, folded my bike fairly easily, though I'm definitely better at unfolding it and will need a bit more practice, only to be told by the security that I could not carry the bike in the building. They were good enough to hold it at the security desk but warned me not to do it again. I was a bit dumbfounded. Shouldn't the constitution protect my right to carry personal property that is neither more bulky nor unwieldy than a big suitcase into a public building? I guess not. So if you happen to be peddling to 1900 Market Street in Philadelphia, bring a lock. But if I wanted to lock my bike on the street I could have used my regular ride and locking the folding bike up, with all its movable and re-movable parts seems even less of a good idea than locking up my regular bike, which was precisely one of the main things I was trying to avoid. I suppose the other option would be to somehow have the carrying bag with me, but I don't think that is possible. But I left my bike, taught my class and comfortably rode home feeling that I haven't come to a final decision about how to do this on a regular basis or about how I feel about having purchased this new bike, but on a sunny, warm January day, none of the hassle seemed to matter much.

3 comments:

David Bennett said...

Ira,
The best part of being a bike commuter is actually looking forward to the ride to work. When have I ever looked forward to the chore of this trip? Certainly not when I was taking three trains from Park Slope to the Upper East Side in the early 80's; not when I was squeezing into a #4 bus to take me from my French Hill apartment to my job at the Kind David Hotel, and absolutely never when I was driving the 35 mile round trip from my house here in Seattle to my school in Redmond. Now, though, the commute is the highlight of my day. I ride about 15 minutes from my house to a pick-up spot near the UW Arboretum, where I meet a van full of teachers who live in Seattle and we travel together to work in Redmond. The van ride, after a brisk morning bike ride, is bliss. The ride home goes by fast as I look forward to remounting my old Diamondback for the bike ride home. And then once at home, with my heart rate returning to normal and a quick shower, I'm energized for the evening. With my bike and my rain gear, I control my commute. It's a beautiful thing! David Bennett

Ira F. Stone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ira F. Stone said...

Thanks for leaving a comment, David. It sounds like you've got a great routine worked out. My recreational ride each morning gives me the same lift and I've been trying to expand it to include more commuting, but, as you know, I don't really live very far from work so I have to be creative in this department sometimes.
Ira

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