So I rode my bike to that city sustainability meeting the other day, dodging downed tree debris eight days after the storm all along the way (which made the sidewalks completely unusable for those in wheelchairs or with strollers*). But that's not the part that got my attention. It's what I saw in front of me, or rather, who I didn't. My daughters. They hardly ever ride with me anymore, and thus, I've discovered, I don't ride that often myself anymore (although every time I do, I realize it's one of my very favorite things to do, such as the day I rode with John Brown on the Atlanta Beltline ). I have two favorite little parts of my book , one about each of my daughters. The one about my older daughter is titled A Volley Happening between Mother and Daughter in the Place We Call Home . (If you have a teen, I think you'll like it.) The one about my younger daughter is titled Hallelujeh (or What Biking to School Just Might Have You and Your Children Singing) . In that post, I give a warning to parents that the day will come when their children no longer want to ride to school, that the aperture of opportunity for doing this is short (pretty much just when the kids are strong enough to do so, especially if your city is hilly, and young enough that they don't care what their hair looks like when they get there). And I can tell you now, for sure, that this is true (although my daughters don't care so much about their hair--they just have their own lives now).
The City of Atlanta is about to join cities such as Washington, DC and New York City (and others around the world) that have Bike Share programs. I will be spending a great deal of time inside the city limits each week, starting in August. My hope is that much of it will be on a bike. With brand new views in front of me.
My other hope is that one day my daughters will enjoy "feeling like a kid again" when they ride their bikes (like this dad probably does as he hops a curb after riding with his son to school). (See First, You Gotta' Do This as a Kid .) And I know that it will only be possible because they actually did ride them when they were kids.
As did I. *Yes,
I was on the sidewalk on one of the roads because there is practically
no shoulder and definitely no bike lanes on it--I stop at corners,
revert to pedestrian status so drivers see me (as I learned at Safety Town ), and walk my bike across when I do this. But am curious why people are stacking all their debris right on the sidewalk, thereby making the sidewalks unusable for days on end. I continue to wish my city leaders would take a few hours one day and simply try to traverse the city via foot, bike, and wheelchair, and while pushing a stroller. Every accessibility and safety issue becomes abundantly clear very quickly, without any meetings or debate. See Have You Walked a Mile with a Child? (and Other Questions about Walk/Bike-Friendly Greenwashing . (You know how I feel about greenwashing--see Et Tu, Brute? )