Our no car family took two bikes, one with a trail-a-bike attached, to early morning soccer practice for the six year old. How much better was it than a ride in the car? Delightfully better. Although the shoulder on the road is in bad shape, pocked with holes and badly patched tar bumps, there wasn’t much traffic, and I felt a real safety in our numbers, with me riding in the rear on my road bike. We feared a rainy day. The overcast and misty morning was a big relief. Lenny hummed and sang as he trailed his dad for four miles of rolling hills; leaning far to the left to see past dad to the road ahead. He would twist his head back to check on me, us sharing stuck out tongues and funny faces. My job riding in the rear: to remind Lenny to help dad pedal up the hills and to be the first and only victim of a texting asshole not watching where he is driving. I loved watching Lenny on the downhills, buzzing the pedals backwards as the wind whipped by.
Riding bikes turned a boring commute into quality family time and took only ten extra minutes than if we had driven a car.
The following Saturday, Lenny and I rode the trail-a-bike by ourselves to soccer practice those same four miles away. Dad stayed home. Before we left the house, my husband argued that we needed to leave early,with me at the helm, so we would not be late. We arrived in twenty minutes—only five minutes slower than when he does the heavy pedaling. In our text exchange he wrote, “awesome, you are fast.” The encouragement felt great. This is a family project and working together to make it a success feels amazing. During our ride, pedaling hard up one of the hills Lenny said, “I wish we had a car.” Five minutes later shooting down a big hill, he was humming happily.
After riding to soccer practice, I had this weird sense of existential goodness. Seriously. Like when you eat well and you manage to treat people nicely all day. Driving in a car now makes me feel bad about myself; which is leading to some mighty righteous feelings. Yesterday at the intersection between the school drive and the main road, a deputy was directing traffic due to the recent high volume of cars. By my conservative estimate, more than 75% of “walking distance” families (those not eligible to catch the school bus) drive their kids the one mile to school. I was always a little disgusted by this, especially on the days with beautiful weather. Now I am more so. Feeling morally superior could have a serious impact on who will stay friends with me.