KID: We didn’t need it.
KID: We didn’t need it.
It was a head-on collision on Route 9D; the road that frequently scares the shit out of me when i am on my bike. Ironically, it’s also a road that scares the shit out of people driving in cars, because it’s one lane each direction, winding, beautiful, and oftentimes moving very fast.
I worry about dying in a bike accident much more than I worry about car accidents. Statisticians claim that the car is by far more dangerous. But if we are honest about it, a bike accident is nothing more than a car accident that happens to also involve a bike.
I do what I can to garner some sympathy on the road. I know that lots of drivers hate cyclists. I don’t want them to hate me. I am just trying to get from work to summer camp to pick up my kid.
Worried about making my foot worse, I texted our friends who live across the street for a lift to camp.
My son cheered.
A mom and her six-year-old embark on their first day walking 1.3 miles to get to summer camp.
At first Lenny complained, “I hate this path, it has too many rocks,” he said. “There are a million spider webs getting in my face.”
When we arrived at camp, I told Lenny that it makes me so happy to spend my morning walking and talking with him. He surprised me when he said, “mom, you’re always happy.”
On many of our car-less commutes, Lenny initially complains. He finds the small thing that could make the journey unpleasant—like a rocky path. I let him know that I heard him, but we don’t have another option, really, so we have to figure out how to make the best of it. I try to shift the focus away from the complaint; instead reflecting on my pleasure spending time with my kid. He usually follows my lead.
I can think of a dozen things to complain about when riding in the car: like all the traffic, we can’t go as fast as I want, there is nothing good on the radio, that truck just cut me off, the crumbs in the middle console are gross, I can’t check my messages while I am driving. Yet for over 30 years I still drove.
The return trip to the train station was a bit tight, I had to walk fast to catch the 9:30am train that would take me the rest of the way toGrand Central in NYC, my three-day-a week commute. This journey was not quite as pleasant; my flip-flops proving not ideal for the speed I needed. I was a just stepped out of the shower drippy mess when I hit the platform. I could not have looked more forward to the air conditioning on that train.
Unable to use the tried-and-true parenting method of manhandling him into the car and bribing him with ten minutes of game time on my iPhone, my son had to walk a mile on a wooded trail. He was really not into it. I wasn’t into it either, honestly.
I was mostly fine, but thoughts of “you should just rest, this is stupid to try to push through” disrupted the peace. Mixed with a child whining, “I don’t want to go to camp” and pleas for me to “walk slooower” didn’t make the trip more fun. But we kept walking. There was really nothing else to do.
I consciously slowed down my pace and calmed my monkey brain by focusing on the sounds and beauty of the trail. I asked myself, “would you rather be speeding down Route 9D in a car getting home in just 10 minutes?” I decided that this extra space in my day could be a time to meditate. I re-framed what could have been annoyance with a long wait on the train platform into something that would benefit me.
Friends lent us their car while they are away on vacation. It’s a nice gesture and we appreciate the wheels when we have them. I am somewhat embarrassed, however, to admit that we having been using the loaner car everyday. It is a Prius. The second one that has been loaned to us. For a few days I didn’t feel bad about driving it because it was a Prius. I wasn’t hurting the environment that much, I figured. Do Prius owners drive more, because they feel like they can? It doesn’t cost as much to drive because the gas mileage is so good. I have a neighbor who frequently drives to the city instead of taking the train. She may subscribe to this “it’s not bad to drive” rationalization in her hybrid.
The car has been convenient, but I am falling out of the habit of being a gritty, resourceful, car free individual. I liked myself better as that person.
It’s 95 degrees. We have a borrowed car. Our friends are away on vacation. I am getting lazy. Even on the ride home from Beacon I found myself disbelieving that I had just a week earlier ridden my bike on the same road in similar heat. The impulse to be soft is powerful.
Today is the last day with the borrowed car. It was calling to me. I was feeling weak.
I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Plus, it was oppressively humid. Holy hell, besides being so tired, I would come back from camp drop off looking like a drowned rat. Arriving at camp fresh from the A/C in the Prius, one of the counselors asked hopefully if we had ridden our bikes again. “I was thinking about you,” she admitted. She was impressed with our choice and I could tell she was thoughtfully considering all the pros to getting rid of the car, yet she identified her reason-why-not (everyone always does), “I can’t strap my guitar to my back.” But I was delighted to see that she didn’t let herself off so easy: “or I could just attach a trailer to my bike.” A bystander, who lives even closer to the camp, contemplated his excuses—he has art materials to carry. But he talked himself out of them as well. I felt good that maybe these like-minded folks might ditch their cars on occasion and walk or bike when they could.