Monday, June 21, 2010

Bored in Paradise

An Old Hunk of Functional Steel

I saw this along the canal, and thought, "There's an old hunk of steel which was designed and built for a specific function, served its purpose, and then was abandoned without fanfare or emotion to brave the elements on its own, by its unsentimental former owners who probably felt no particular connection with it, except a workmanlike attention to keep it pumping as it successfully moved water from point A to point B for them to water their crops for many years." Some denizens of traditionalist bicycling monocultures hold that there's little or no difference between that old hunk of functional steel, and this one.

Another Old Hunk of Steel

I recently read somewhere, I forget where because I have blotted it out of my memory and shall not speak of it again, that this graceful steel steed ought to be seen as equivalent to a vacuum cleaner. To me, that sneer resembles that of ennui-saturated wretches who find themselves visiting a stunning, unique place, and yet still express boredom, typically loudly, in a public setting, while smoking and sipping an expensive beverage. As in, "Oh, please, St. Kitts is so 1993. It hasn't been any fun here in years. The last time it was, you could still smoke on airplanes, at least if you flew the right ones." I'll move on down the beach if that's the level of discourse in the section I first spread my towel on. Probably to a section with people sunning quietly listening to the sea, the wind, and the seabirds, enjoying the beach as a beach.

Short of something like the last drops of oil getting pumped out of the last huge deposits in Athabasca, riding a bicycle will not become as common, utilitarian, or for that matter, boring, as a vacuum cleaner in my lifetime, in my city and even half of the country. The changes required to cause that to occur would be radical beyond possibility. I do not anticipate them occurring. Cycling will remain an uncommon, slightly unusual or offbeat activity. 

I find it fun, good exercise, sometimes surprising or interesting, and always rewarding, to ride the bikes in my stable. This time of year, here, people who don't like the thought of riding in the heat will probably drive. Most people, the overwhelming majority, in fact, will prefer their air conditioned sealed metal boxes on wheels for going from point A to point B. I get that, but I also get that there are always excuses. I know because I almost pulled the "too hot, too tired" excuse this weekend. And there are signs that we're finding our own way forward, different from the recommended, "dump your cars, they're too too boring, and ride a heavy black bike as true traditionalist cycling monocultures do," like the start of a project along Pima Road that will result in adding two five foot bike lanes, I think creating a bike expressway from the Arizona Canal all the way to Pinnacle Peak.

A Beautiful Hunk of Bike Lane Building Steel (they don't build bike lanes with bakfiets)

To kick off this project, road boffins recently started tearing up Pima Road near the AZ Canal, and now the section near there is completely shut down. I rode Bip down the empty pavement. I thought about the millions of people who have driven cars down that stretch, even a much younger me, back when Pima felt a lot more like a road to remote areas than it does now. I don't think it would have felt the same if I was pushing a vacuum cleaner. Although there are sweepers out there, maybe I should ask. Get up. Go ride.

1 comment:

  1. I like me old hunks of functional steel.
    Even if they no longer function.


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