Green Scene Blog: Better life via bike

Folks, here’s a cheery post from Kassia Arbabi, bike enthusiast and partner in C’ville Foodscapes.

When I leave home, it is generally with my bike loaded down for the day. This often includes: fiddle for busking, lunch/snacks, water, an extra shirt, book, and possibly some gardening tools. Thus set up for the day, and heading out the driveway, I’ll often encounter my two immediate neighbors puttering in the yard or garden. Turning onto the next street, there’s another friend and neighbor. He drives a scooter around town so we often cross paths. A couple summers ago he loaned us his weedwacker in exchange for some of our peppers. Another smile and wave.

And so it goes, all the way to Big Ridge Street, where I turn down and wait at the Cherry/Elliott intersection. Most of the way down (little) Ridge Street, the same folks are out on their porches and we exchange our customary greetings—a wave, “How you doin’?” “A’right now?” (the latter an affirmative greeting). I love seeing the familiar faces on my route—it feels like I’m home as soon as I turn off Big Ridge Street.

There’s a stark difference as soon as I hit the Downtown area—people are dressed nicely, generally carrying coffee, rarely say hello, and look purposeful. I whiz by them down the hill. Or, if I’m heading to Alexander House, there’s that last bit of hill on Monticello Avenue heading towards Avon. This is usually a prime opportunity to surprise car drivers with a smile and hello, or bob my head to their music.

I do have other favorite biker characters from around town. There is the sweet man with a leg injury who rides his motorized bicycle around and does yard work. His customary greeting is “Everything’s lovely!” And it is, as soon as he says it. There’s the guy who loads his bike down with bags, hanging off of handlebars left and right. My friend once offered him a bike trailer. He politely accepted; later she noticed that he never used it, and had stuck with his own method of bike-pack mule. I love seeing little biker families, with kids on ride-along bikes or bike seats, or just little bikes. Then there are the commuters with a briefcase and extra change of clothes.

Once, I pulled up to a light and my friend and I paused to examine my malfunctioning chain. A biker crossing from the other side was watching us. When the light changed, he came over and offered his services as bike mechanic, using his cell phone as a light as he took a look at my screwed-up chain—once again confirming my experience that life is just better from a bike!—

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