Regarding my earlier post today and the beginning of Keri Caffrey’s series entitled The Stories We Tell, here are the essential plots of two very different narratives of bicycling in the United States today:
The Stories of the Unsuccessful Bicyclist
I’m a second class citizen.
I’m at the mercy of others.
Most motorists are careless and mean.
Bicycling is difficult and frustrating and won’t be safe until other people change and we have special facilities.
The Stories of the Successful Bicyclist
I’m a first class citizen.
I’m in control of my safety.
Most motorists are safe and courteous.
Bicycling is safe, easy and a great way to connect with the community. I don’t need special infrastructure, but there are some ways better infrastructure could enhance my travels.
If you care to go back to August 2008 on Carbon Trace and begin reading, you’ll note that much of what I have experienced, thought, and written has been the story of my moving away from the first narrative to my embracing of the second narrative. It’s a story nearly five years in the making — a little more than half the time I have been using a bicycle for basic transportation in Springfield.
I committed to using a bicycle as basic transportation when I moved here from Kansas City because I saw in the flat terrain and grid street pattern the opportunity to change my life for the better.
My elevator speech for those who are curious about my use of bicycle for basic transportation: “If it were difficult or dangerous, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
That is 100 percent true. What I do is neither difficult nor dangerous. And, really, that was something of a complete surprise to me. I just assumed that I would have many days in which I would choose to drive a car instead because of conditions that might make it difficult or situations that might make it dangerous. Hasn’t happened. My longest stretch without driving was a little more than three months. And I regularly go more than week without driving. This has allowed my family to reduce its car-dependence to one Prius — a great financial savings that made it possible to afford a Prius in the first place
Granted, the life choices some people make (e.g. where to live) can make it more difficult to use a bicycle for basic transportation than what I experience. That is why I dreamed up the 1-Mile Solution (I dreamed up the meme, not the idea).