Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bike to Work...Duh...

Launching out of the driveway Thursday morning, my body lacking coffee, I immediately notice something askew. Lots of bicyclists. Not the spandex kind either, but regular, jeans and jacket folks riding around, presumably to school, work, the unemployment office, or other popular destinations. Moms, kids, teens, all on bikes. Woo-hoo! I think, "there's hope yet!" It isn't until I hit bike traffic going over the San Lorenzo Train Trestle and have to wedge past other riders that it finally dawns on me - oh yeah, today's Bike To Work Day, duh! Did I mention I hadn't had any coffee?

Years ago I used to make an effort, to, you know, promote ridership. I put up posters, and tried to spread the word in conversations with co-workers barely able to conceal their indifference. But somewhere along the way, between this nation's perpetual wars for oil in IraqAfghaniPakiYemestan, and the Gulf Oil Spill on Earth Day, I got, how would I put it? Jaded.

Yeah, jaded cuz' the public discourse over the need to be more sustainable in terms of energy policy remains an absurd duality between "Drill Baby Drill" and "Hybrid/electric cars are going to save us all." *Yawn* How nice it would be to hear some politician come out publicly and say, "Candles are underrated, let's make more," or "Ice boxes don't take any electricity and hey, a lot of the crap in your fridge doesn't need to be refrigerated in the first place." At least it would be something different...

I change my usual route, head towards Pacific Ave and get my free cup of coffee.

Lying on my back, staring up at lovely Maple trees, a Bike to Work Day volunteer gives me a massages. It is nice, the endorphins almost drown out the sound of cars and buses rolling past not more than 50 feet away. I've often tried to picture what the volume levels of small town life were like in the early 19th century, and draw a blank. I muse to the masseuse how it would be sweet if the powers that be could organize a bike to work day every month - if only this were Sweden, or Denmark, or some place with some semblance of social democracy.

Massage over, I get up and mingle with the fellow riders. It's the usual crowd though I don't see any anarchistas. Bummer. I like them. They're the only ardent bicyclists who don't harbor any illusions that their actions are going to save the planet from Industrial Capitalism and usher in a liberated tomorrow. Riding a bike is enjoyable, and that's enough for them.

The day passes uneventfully. 5pm rolls around. The bicycles that were so prevalent in the morning seem to be eclipsed by the throngs of cars, bumper to bumper, heading south on Soquel, or Murray St. It's a sobering reminder. Of what? You already know.