So you bought a mattress but you don’t have a car. What next?
James and I were in this situation the other day: we’d already gone to a store to choose and order a new mattress for our upstairs room, but then, for two carless people, there’s the issue of how to pick it up when it’s ready.
Luckily, there’s a Zipcar van that lives about 2 miles from our house — so if there aren’t any easily available cars to borrow from friends or neighbors, with James’ Zipcar membership it’s easy enough to bike down and hop in a van for the hour or so that it takes to run our errand. So we rode the 10 minutes down to the van together, left our bikes locked there, and set off for our mattress. Super chill.
It’s funny, though. I drive for work all the time, a giant 12-passenger van full of young adults and tools, but that’s mostly out past Gresham where the roads are monstrous and the things far apart and our work sites remote. (Though even then I’m not a huge fan of our driving time, even if I do like eavesdropping on the conversations my kiddos have in the back.)
In Portland, though, with the traffic and the smaller streets and the more human scale, I’m not sure, if they can help it, why able-bodied people really ever opt to drive. In the span of our hour’s worth of Zipvan, where it took about as long to drive to the mattress place as it took to bike there the first time, I definitely felt a little silly being in a car. Except for the whole mattress deal.
After we dropped the mattress at home, we set out west on narrow SE Division to bring the van back, watching for the bazillion pedestrians and the drivers looking for places to park their cars and making wonky unexpected turns, watching for the buses and bikes and shoppers all in the rain and the dark and feeling so large and clunky and unwieldy. I couldn’t wait for us to park the damn van and get back on our bikes like normal people. It is so much more pleasant to get through this city on a bicycle, even in the rain, even in the dark, even in the cold.
Gosh! I’m thankful for Zipcar and other car-sharing options that can give you a hand when you need them, but I’m really thankful for a pretty darn good bike network that makes human transit through this place much more fun. Thanks, Portland! :)