Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring is finally, fully here

Actually, this is a picture I took last summer, not of my place, but a house in my neighborhood that has a garden I particularly love. But it shows how green everything seems to have become suddenly, in what seems to be just the last few days. The trees have leafed out, the grass is no longer brown and the flowers, oh, the flowers. Tulips and daffs still out, lilacs just starting to bud out, the forsythia and kerria blazing yellow still. It's like everything has come at once this year. We had a handful of days that shot up to the eighties, but mostly it's been around a seasonal fifty or so degrees, just a bit of chill still, especially in the evenings. In short, perfect and glorious.

Another sure and certain sign that the year has changed though are the bike racks around town. While I'm not the only year round cyclist in my town, I'm one of a hardy few. I'll definitely see other bikes locked up or around town, but in January, there's never any problem getting a space at the bike rack. Yesterday, though, I went to a local coffee shop to meet a friend and every space was taken on the rack next door. Every space! I ended up having to lock up to a parking meter across the street. And lately, in front of my gym, most of the spots are often taken up with bikes. It makes me happy, it really does, to see people making use of their bikes.

When I first started riding everywhere for transportation, it was actually pretty lonely on the streets. I was often the only bike I would see on the street. Cars didn't give me much space or respect, I think because they weren't used to seeing a bike on the streets. That's changed in the ten years since I started shifting to bike transportation. Bikes are much more common now, though obviously much less common than cars, sadly.

My town is the perfect place to live car free, if you ask me, even year round, but especially in the good weather. It's small. Even the relatively physically unfit could ride from one end of town to the other easily. The streets are the human scale streets of an older town. No double lanes or highway like features. Plenty of stop signs and lights and other traffic calming features. We have most things that people need. No big box stores, obviously (though there is a Walmart I could cycle to, should I choose to do so. But. Ugh.), but we have grocery stores and coffee shops and clothing stores and office supply stores. We have a movie theater and bookstores and even a Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop. We're on two El lines that go into the city, as well as the Metra and plenty of bus lines. I can't think of a better place to live car free. And terrain is relatively flat which makes biking easy.

In short, it's perfect for the car free, bike rich life and I think more people are beginning to recognize that. I still dream of the day where we have bike pollution almost, like you see in Amsterdam, where you can hardly find a spot to park your bike at all, because there are so many.

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