On my way home from work the other week, I was minding my own business at a stoplight in downtown Gresham. It was raining, so I was wearing my rain pants and had pulled my booties over my shoes. I’d put on my totally-not-waterproof-even-though-it’s-supposed-to-be (oh well) bikey jacket with reflective piping and my bright yellow helmet cover that sort of keeps my hair dry but mostly makes me feel more visible. All my stuff was stashed in a waterproof pannier on my back rack.
(I don’t normally have the front bag when I just go to work, but otherwise this is a pretty standard setup)
While I was waiting for the light to change, a man came right up to me, super purposefully, his face a beaming grin. “You must be a commuter!” he said, definitely in italics. “Look at you! You look just like a certified bike commuter!”
He was so excited, as though “bicycle commuter” were an exotic species rarely found in the wild. Which I guess might actually be true in Gresham. Much more so than in Portland, anyway. And it just so happened to be his lucky to day to catch a real live bicycleÂ commuter out in her natural commuting environment.
I laughed and we talked about biking for as long as it took the light to change, and then off we both went, me feeling kind of like by simple virtue of existing, I’d just somehow made his day.
Commuting via bike is so normal to me that I forget it’s not everyone’s experience. Even more so, I forget that not everyone is used toÂ even seeing bicycle commuters. Craziness. But I’m glad I made his day! And it was fun, for a second, to feel like a rare and exotic wild species — though I hope we become less and less endangered.
One of the fine weather days we had in the past couple weeks, Ari and I were biking home together around rush hour and stopped at a light behind two other bike commuters. A pedestrian called out to us from the sidewalk “Look at you all on your bikes! Look at you taking time to bike somewhere! Looking so good on your bikes!” (And here I’m thinking, ‘Taking time to bike? You’re on foot! You’re taking more time than we are!’)
Ha! That’s awesome:) I bet you all WERE looking so good on your bikes! Who doesn’t look good on a bike?? :)
Funny about the taking time to bike, too. That strikes me as a perception that keeps people away from biking, that it “takes time.” Driving time seems to be invisible for some reason, even though that takes time too. And even if it’s less time sometimes (though when it comes to driving or biking downtown, I think it actually takes longer to drive–it’s certainly more frustrating) — even if it’s less sometimes, there’s so much awesomeness about being on a bike that only thinking about the time it takes seems an impoverished perception.
It certainly does take a LOT longer to drive than to bike, especially if once you get there, you have to drive around and around looking for a place to park! Like in downtown Sacramento! I’ll never understand why everyone doesn’t bike here. Perfect weather, all flat, wide streets… I’ll never get that.
p.s. And you do look good on a bike! :-)
Heh. I’m pretty sure that most people look good on a bike. Just my bias;) And yes, definitely more people in Sac should bike (although geez, they could really improve the timing of the lights downtown to be a little more bike-friendly. You know, so you don’t end up stopping at every. single. light while everyone driving just breezes through.)