December 16, 2024

Anachronisms, Pt. 2: I ride my bike, I rollerskate, don't drive no car.

Written by your guest blogger Brian:


So I’ve had a request for “dirt.” I’m not sure if this means dirt about Jason, dirty entries, or what, exactly. Jason already over-exposes himself—I can’t think of any nuggets of salacious joy I could mine that would titillate anyone that’s even a casual reader of this blog. But I’ll work on it. Really, Jason’s not that exciting… don’t you want to hear more about me?

I am a cyclist. Just like Melanie, I don’t drive no car. It’s one of my three “C’s:” no car, no credit card, no cell phone. Unlike Melanie, I am a sub-par rollerskater. We’ve got the bicycle in common, though, and it makes me want to break into song, too. I simply cannot overstate the pleasures of gliding one hundred feet above the Mississippi River with the wind on your face and the sun rising above the city like a ripe orange about to be squeezed while your lungs fill with big, heavy heaves of fresh morning air. In the warmer months, there is no other way to travel.

However, when winter comes to Minneapolis, those without automotive transportation face some difficult choices: You can walk (time-consuming, cold), you can ride the bus (less time consuming, often crowded, unreliable, but charming nonetheless), you can ride the new light rail (sleek, smooth, and cosmopolitan—but only goes back and forth from downtown and the mall), or you can bike. I choose the last option, with occasional concessions to the others when I plan on drinking heavily or my bike’s break cable snaps (like it did last week).

The Twin Cities are renowned for their network of bike trails. And really, they are pretty handy. They’re even constructing a cool new bridge just for cyclists to get from Uptown to Loring Park. But bike trails can’t take you everywhere and aren't plowed often enough once the snow starts flying. This means sharing the road with cars.

More about me and my bike after the jump...

After a few years of cycling the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul, I now consider cars the enemy. It didn’t used to be this way. I, too, was once a driver. When I bought my first car as a naďve 16-year-old in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I became acquainted with the road from behind the wheel. It was my ticket to freedom. I could smoke Kamel Red Lights while en route to the coffee shop, my friend’s house, work, school, wherever, and I didn’t need my parents to give me a ride. My midnight-blue ’86 Dodge Shadow meant freedom. I had my first nicotine-tinged taste of the American Dream. But the taste soon began to sour.

I spent some time abroad, and when I returned to the States to attend college, I gave up the car for mostly practical reasons. I began my second life as a pedestrian. Eventually, I found that my bike was just faster than walking or waiting for the bus (I can beat the #2 down Franklin Ave. from the West Bank to Uptown—no contest). At first I was so scared of getting hit that I stuck to the sidewalks. As I took my first tentative bike rides with traffic, I had a number of close calls. Some of them were most definitely my fault—chalk it up to inexperience. But as I grew more confident and learned the rules, I came to realize that most cars were annoyed with my presence, at best, even if I had every legal right to be there. The deal was sealed after a car side-swiped me during last year’s bus strike, sending me flying into a snow bank, and then sped off without stopping to see if I was OK. Truth is, the driver was probably too drunk to realize he hit anything, reflectors and lights be damned. It was time for this cyclist to bash back.

I ride with a perpetual snarl, staring down drivers jabbering away on their cell phones, a hot cup of Starbucks squeezed between their thighs. If you cut me off, I will yell at you. I thought about getting a bell, but it doesn’t really fit the renegade image I’m trying to culivate. I want drivers to think that I’ll bight off their hood ornament if they fuck with me. Just yesterday I slapped the hood of a big red Jeep that tried to turn right into me at a red light, ignoring the “no turn on red” sign. The driver gave me one of those “sorry, didn’t see you” looks and continued blathering away into her Nokia.

Now, I don’t claim to be as tough as the West Bank bike punks that can be seen pedaling their homemade giraffe-like two-wheeled monsters about town (I’m afraid they’d beat me up). But I do get the occasional nod of recognition from one of them when I park my Trek at the Hard Times Cafe. What that nod means (I think) is that we bikers need to look out for each other. While the countless millions choke our skies with greenhouse gases, give our leaders a profit incentive to start another war for petroleum every time they fill up at the pump, encourage sprawling freeways that demolish critical habitat, all the while becoming morbidly obese from their sedentary lifestyles, we, my friends--we punks and burnouts and health-nuts and green-freaks and kamakaze messengers—we are making a difference with our thighs and a pair of pedals. See you on the streets.


Posted by at December 16, 2024 02:34 AM

A-fucking-men, brother. You folks who ride your bikes everywhere even in snow get big props from me.

People NEED cars like fish need bicycles.

Posted by: Dunner at December 16, 2024 11:27 AM


Posted by: Ken at December 16, 2024 01:28 PM