This opinion piece in The New York Times describes Detroit’s potential to transform its deserted, motor-free streets into a bicycle utopia. Wouldn’t that be an interesting evolution? It may qualify as situational irony if “Motor City” would turn into a place known for being “Pedal Powered.”
Our area is gradually becoming more bicycle friendly. We have a few more bike paths than we used to, and I’ve even spotted an occasional bike lane. That’s great progress, and I’d like to see more intentional steps toward accepting, even encouraging and embracing, bikes as a viable transportation option.
We’re trying to use our own bikes more and more. We’re wimpy enough that a little bad weather discourages our efforts and we end up back in the minivan again, but on pretty days we’ve traveled on bike to the library, Goodwill, Target, Barnes & Noble, an outdoor shopping mall, Officemax, the grocery store, Whole Foods, and the farmer’s market. We’re conveniently located close to a long bike path that provides a safe and direct line to some interesting destinations. The kids frequently request a trip to an ice cream shop situated right next to the path.
Bikes are something to experiment with, if you’re trying to slow down. It takes some planning ahead to allow enough time for a bike trip that would normally be taken by car. If you start to bike to stores, you’ll also want to experiment with how to carry the stuff.
You can’t tell in this photo, but I have a basket attached to the front of my bike that can handle small packages. For slightly bigger stuff, I use a back pack. The photo does show that for large purchases—or in this case plentiful donations—I pack a lot of bags into a pull-behind Burley trailer.
It all works pretty well for me.
In the summertime.
I know the bicycle won’t work for everyone in every setting, but I nevertheless pose these questions (to myself as well as readers):
- Can we slow down enough to turn to bicycles as a regular or even primary form of transportation?
I’m trying to incorporate it into my life more and more, as are the kids, but we still rely on the minivan for most outings.
- And can we commit to it in all kinds of weather?
Personally, I’m a bit of a wimp. When it turns cold, I resist getting out there on the bike. The kids, however, are bolder. In fact, I’m happy to report that while I was composing this very post, two of my kids came in and asked if they could ride bikes through the neighborhood. The weather today: cool and rainy.
Only decades ago the bicycle was considered a normal way to get around. It still is in Denmark, Holland, Japan and many European cities but returning the bicycle to its rightful place as a feasible transport option in the rest of the world is a noble goal.
The time is ripe for Slow Bicycle … We figure the Slow Bicycle Movement is all about the journey, not the destination … It’s about riding your bicycle. To work, to play. Casually, in a relaxed manner. With time to enjoy the self-propelled movement that you and you alone generate. And, of course, to look around and see the landscape – urban or not – that you pass by at your leisurely pace.
It’s time to take cycling back and place it firmly in the category “normal way to get to work, to the shops, to the cinema”. Indeed, “normal things to do”. This is for those who enjoy the ride.
The Slow Bicycle Movement is a celebration of the bicycle. Not as a speed machine or a tool for tribal membership but merely as an enjoyable way to get around.
To inspire and amuse you, I found a charming little homemade YouTube video—for background music, they use a song by Yves Montand called “A Bicyclette” that makes me want to hop on my bike and take off toting a picnic blanket, some boursin and a baguette.