One of my absolute favorite things about commuting by bike is the ability to run into and actually talk to other people you know while you’re out-n-about.
Today, for example, as I was leaving work, a familiar face zoomed by. Nathan, a fellow I know from teaching Bike Club with the Community Cycling Center but who I haven’t seen forEVER, works in Hillsboro and apparently comes by the zoo on his way home. Recognizing me, he stopped, waited for me to put on my helmet and backpack, and we biked and chatted the few miles down to the river together. It was lovely to catch up, and as he went north and I south, I had a giant smile on my face, the kind you get when some random act of chance totally makes your day.
This kind of thing just doesn’t happen in a car. Sure, if someone were walking and you drove past them, I suppose you could give them a ride–but mostly what happens is that you see someone else also in a car, maybe you wave and smile, and then you both zoom off in your separate metal boxes.
After Nathan and I took our leave, I kept biking homeward and ran into yet another fellow I know, one of the masterminds behind Velodirt. “Donnie!” I yelled. He stopped; I pulled off the road to give him a hug and say hello. He was on his way somewhere and we didn’t chat for long, but it was another reminder of how nice it is to be nimble. I can easily stop my vehicle and pull it off the road should I see someone I know. Harder to do with a car, even if it is a small one.
Add to these example all the times I’ve run into someone and, if I’m not in a hurry (which I’m usually not:), can actually turn around and bike with them for a while–or any of the times when someone has asked me how to get somewhere and I can just escort them there instead of trying to break it down into directions that they probably won’t remember anyway. Or times when James and my commutes cross paths and we can sidewalk stop-n-smooch before we both head our separate ways.
I love that being on a bike makes me part of the world in this way, allows me to actually stop and interact with people instead of zooming past. Especially now, when the weather’s nice and tons of people are outside anyway, it makes for a world that seems wonderfully inviting and friend-studded, every minute a potential reminder and reinforcement of the community I’ve worked so hard to create around me.
Do any of you guys have this experience? Tell me bike stories:)