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Car-free Summer, 2008 » Saturday 8/30/08: Real Bicycle Loads and an Evening Out
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Errands and Leisure and Uncategorized02 Sep 2008 03:29 pm

Hauling in Good Company

I ran into my friend and neighbor Marie Sprandel this morning as I walked with my hairy sidekick Marlowe. Marie is fresh back from a three-week stint in South India where she was working on a Habitat for Humanity house construction project in a Tamil village. She’s a fellow cyclist and she proclaimed that in India they knew how to carry real loads on bicycles. She was generous enough to share this photo of a man carrying cooking pots on his bike, which you can barely see:

Marie also saw bicycles used to cart construction building materials such as lumber and harvested sugar cane stems.

Pardon me, but my bike trailer load from the Farmer’s Market ain’t shit by comparison.

Making bikes do more work would certainly take the edge off the “cycles only for leisure” attitude in this country. High-minded ideals are a great basis for change but putting change into peoples’ pocketbooks is what sways skeptics in this country. Marie also has sent this New York Times article about bike couriers in New York finding more ways to load up their bikes for profit and, well, profit:

Unburdened by Gas Costs, Bike Couriers See a Chance

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/02/nyregion/02messengers.html?emc=tnt&tntemail1=y

But hauling that trailer of produce today certainly made me feel in good company.

Bonus: taking the bike to the Farmer’s Market frees me from worrying about the parking patrol in the white right-hand-drive Jeeps that hand out tickets to unsuspecting Saturday shoppers.

Again, the trip was a study in social connections, as I once more ran into Kelly from tai chi and Elana as well.

Shrinking or Concentrating?

I’m pondering if my world has shrunk by sticking so much to the bike this Summer. I’m not so sure it has, given that so many errands I run are within several miles of my house and that they have often depended on the car out of speed and ease, at least in the past. True, I have not bopped to as many suburbs as I would have with a car but I have covered a lot of territory by transit and bike, excluding the rental car trips.

Late in the afternoon, just as we were wondering what to do for dinner and not coming up with any profound answers, a friend called inviting us to dinner in downtown Evanston. Nothing formal on this eat-outdoors summer night so nice casual clothes would make the bike possible. Which is what we did.

We locked our bikes in front of the closed-for-the-evening main library and walked over to the Irish restaurant across the street. We did eat outside and it was a perfect night for it. While there, we also ran into a woman my wife had worked with and a man who works in the Wilmette bread shop. If my world has shrunk this summer I like to think it’s also become more concentrated socially.

An insight on drinking and not driving came from a poster inside the restaurant: it was for a Beatles-town pub crawl in Liverpool and it was sponsored by the taxi company. Keeping drunks off the road also means giving people more choices. Taxis, however, can be a rare commodity the farther you get from urban centers. Alcohol is not proportionately rare.

We walked around a bit after dinner and we boys decided to take in the music at Bill’s Blues Bar. I just walked back to the library moved my bike in front of the bar while Nancy rode home.

Now, realistically, drinking and biking is more an exercise in suicidal tendencies than a threat to others, so I had no intentions of pushing it. Which I held to and thus was able to unlock my steed and ride home safely in the post-midnight quiet.

And by the way, my car is still parked on the street where I left it the other day.

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