Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Commuting in normal clothes and shoes

As I mentioned earlier, I put platform pedals on my bike, in order to simplify my commute by wearing regular clothes and shoes instead of Lycra or other bike-specific clothing. I still wore a helmet. My jacket was a hi-vis yellow number with reflective piping that's not going to show up on any of the cycling chic blogs any day soon. And I did wrap some reflective Velcro strips around my pants. But as the main purpose was not to make a fashion statement, but rather to decrease prep time at both ends (or all four ends if you count both legs of the trip). By that measure, it worked well. Locking and unlocking the bike still took a couple of minutes, but other than that it did feel a lot more like hop on and go.

It's a rather subtle change. But, it felt like the difference between, say, a regular exercise ritual with a set route and equipment, and a fun, relaxing way to get to work instead of driving the car.

I wore the hi-vis jacket because in my view, seen from the perspective of a bicycle on the street, cars are two ton steel death machines driven by maniacs who need extra sensory input to see your small moving shape as significant against the fast-moving background visible through their windshields while they issue orders to the kid in the backseat and reply to three text messages. I don't mean that all drivers are like that, just that expecting them to be like that makes you safer. In practice, almost daily, I am pleasantly surprised by the unexpected courtesy shown by some drivers. Thank you, if you are one of them. But if you're not, it's no problem for me, I don't expect you to be.
In any case, I'm not stressing about it, because I'm just on an easy spin to work. Here, you go first, please. It will give me a few more minutes in the sweet sunshine. Get up. Go ride.


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