It’s 6:30pm, and James and I are driving all around the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, looking for a parking spot. As we go up one street and down the next trolling for empty curbsides, I am about to blow my top.
“How do people put up with this shit?” I can’t help but exclaim, over and over. It is infuriating to drive around fruitlessly in circles. My mind imagines the gas we’re using and the emissions we’re producing not even going anywhere but around and around, trying to find someplace — anyplace — to park this damn hunk of rolling metal. Why? Why do people accept that this is normal?
We’re driving because we had a very tight window to make it from Portland to Seattle and back: James couldn’t leave work before 3pm on Friday; I had to be at work at 10am on Sunday. Though my strong preference would have been to take the train with our bikes, the Amtrak schedule just doesn’t work out for us this time. So we rent the smallest, most fuel-efficient car we can.
Which is unfortunate, because fuel efficiency or no, driving in Seattle is lame. Or maybe it’s just that driving in any city is lame when you’re used to seeing and interacting with the world from your bicycle.
My brother was in Seattle for the weekend, so we’re really only there to see him. In that respect, this trip is an excellent success. And of course we find fun things: We play in Discovery Park, we find excellent vegan food, we wander around. Despite the driving, we find fun things.
(picture swiped from thesnapbar.com)
But man. I was so very excited to get back to Portland and my little bicicleta, so very excited to ditch the car and not have to worry about parking, so very excited to get back to exercise ingrained in my very mode of getting around the world.
Every time I’ve been to Seattle, I feel like it’s big and unwieldy and full of traffic. But every time I’ve been there, it’s been in a car. I’m sure there’s great bike infrastructure, at least in some places, because we see hints of it: Separated cycle tracks, bike lanes, sharrows. Someday, I want to go back with my bicycle and give it a fair chance, experience it the way I like to experience the world. Maybe I’ll like it more from the top of a bike.