Friday, April 22, 2011

Try powering your own wheels. You might like it!!

Electric and manual bikes
Just last Friday I rode my bike to a luncheon meeting.  It inspired me to write a commentary, which I then submitted to the StarTribune.  I was pleased they decided to run it in today's paper, "Try powering your own wheels. You might like it!"  This ties into the 41st anniversary of Earth Day.


On a cool blustery spring day I was torn between the desire to drive my car or ride my bike to a lunch presentation. It was being held in the heart of south Minneapolis, ten miles or so from the comforts of my home in Crystal. 

At 50 plus years of age, I had to fight off the sirens coming from of my 12-year-old car.  No, not those loud pulsating sirens that come when the panic button is pushed or something bumps up against the parked car. Rather it’s those quite, subtle sirens that I’m talking about--the kind that lures you, without thinking, into hopping in and driving.

Mind you, my car is no longer a beauty to behold.  Twelve years of Minnesota winters have it rusting round the wheel wells. Stale odors from years of driving in and around town have long since overpowered the early intoxicating new car smell. Convenience and comfort was the car’s main allure.  It could provide quick, climate controlled transportation, with soft bucket seats and soothing stereo to boot. 

My long engrained habit was to drive for most any local transportation needs. I used a bicycle only for recreational and fitness purposes.  Sometimes as a family we put bikes on a car rack and traveled to a scenic location to ride.  Kind of strange, if you think about that from a utilitarian perspective.

The day previous I had filled up my car with gas, and became painfully aware of the recent jump in prices.  I also wanted to get in either a run or bike ride sometime during the day.  So, I decided to saddle up on my bike and do the “ride thing”.  I put a bike lock in a small backpack and wrapped a Velcro strap around the right leg of my gray corduroys to keep my pants leg from being caught in the bike’s chain.  And then buckled on my shiny plastic helmet and started peddling.  Nothing overly comfortable or sexy about this mode of transportation.

Within about 45 minutes I had made it to my destination, no worse for the wear. The cool weather kept me from overheating.  I rode almost entirely on trails that brought me within a few blocks of my destination, Lutheran Social Service’s Center for Changing Lives. I was thankful for the series of trials that kept me from having to fight cars for a share of the road.  I had one small surprise upon arrival. I had forgotten the key to my bike lock at home.  I decided I could chalk it up to being a novice biker, rather than a forgetful one. 

After lunch I wheeled home. Green grass was making a much-anticipated appearance after an exceptionally long snowy Minnesota winter. I enjoyed seeing a variety of birds, all out and singing their spring songs. 

On this day I chose not to drive my car with convenience, or her alluring twin companions, quick and easy.   By taking the slower approach on my bike, not only did I get in a workout, I also enjoyed the scenery, and didn’t have to spend a dime on gas or spew toxins and CO2 into the environment. I invite you to join me in “being the change”. Ignore your car’s siren. Walk, bike or take public transportation, as you’re able.  It will benefit both you and the environment. The earth and future generations will thank you.

1 comment:

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