street level view

this weekend has been my crash-course in riding a bike for transportation (literally, took a nice spill yesterday).

this has been an evolving process.  when Kelley moved here from Grand Rapids last fall, i promised her she need not buy a car, that we could share one.  unfortunately, having a job nearly 30 miles away did make this a workable plan.  until Training School, when i would have 1-2 days during the week that i didn’t need the car and she could take it for the day.  still, on those days, i had only to go to class (catch a ride with friends) and work at the local coffee shop (walk). 

about a month ago, we sat down and really began to think/talk through what it would look like to share a car.  as a professional photographer with summer weddings booked all over the midwest, she was really beginning to need something more consistent.  our reasons for sharing have been many and continue to take shape.  for her, she is adamentally against the American notion that everyone must own their own car; as a GR resident, she gladly rode her bike wherever needed, and on the very rare occasion she needed to drive, she found a willingly volunteer (seriously, though, it was maybe every other month).

for me, the reasons are more financial than ideaological: if i am to work less hours at my higher-paying job to better follow some of the options God has put before me, i need to lessen my expenses.  Kel and i struck a sweet deal where she will help with the expense of owning the vehicle in exchange for having it when she needs it.  it’s a novel concept…instead of increasing my hours to afford my things, i share my things so i don’t have to work as much. 

while she’s used my car many times in the past, this is really the first that i’ve had to consider how i might get somewhere.  i’ve owned my own car since i was 16 and, apart from a brief period in college, have never wanted for a ride. 

having to bike to your destination changes your perspective entirely.

first, there’s the time issue.  if i’m late but i’m driving a car, i have an accelerator that moves me faster.  on a bike, not so much.  it’s just my legs.  then there’s the exhaustion thing…going too many miles over a period of time wears out the body, which severely limits where i can and can’t go.  third, there’s the safety thing.  bikers are way more susceptible to (REALLY) bad accidents.  i wore my helmet, yes, but that didn’t stop my tire from curbing the lip of a driveway, sending me flying onto the sidewalk.  i have a nice little (ok, big) bruise on my shin and some skin missing from my hands.

but then there’s the street level view of the city.  a chance to see the architecture of buildings, to know the streets more intimately, see people’s faces and say hello as you pass.  to talk to your fellow travel companions and see the amazing wildlife and nature right in the heart of the city.  travel suddenly becomes an adventure, a part of the journey, not just a necessary evil that gets you from one place to the next.  it’s exhilirating. 

i wouldn’t trade this view for anything. 

ok, that’s not completely true…after biking nearly 30 miles this weekend, i asked if i could borrow a housemate’s car to take to my babysitting gig.  still, i’m on my way.  baby steps, right?

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