Sunday, April 25, 2010

Driving bad for health & race relations

I normally bike everywhere: to work, to play, to north, west and south-side schools in 'bad' (poor and minority) neighborhoods. I normally like bicycling because I am much closer to the environment...and by environment what I really mean/care about is people. I don't know if you've ever gone down Augusta Ave between Central Park and Pulaski but it is HOPPIN. There are probably 7 young men standing out on every other block. That's a lot of guys just standing around on the corner...on lots of corners. One of my co-workers saw a shooting a few blocks south of my normal route. What was most disturbing about the shooting was that no-one was upset about wasn't a big deal in that neighborhood...they even preferred not to call the cops about the incident (which doesn't say much about law enforcement doing their job correctly in the neighborhood).

I really like biking this route because:
1. people on the corner are always surprised to see a white girl biking through (like I'm a white elephant).
2. I think it disarms people that I don't look scared...but actually look happy (I generally have a stupid grin on my face when I bike). If I'm not scared ... it seems like maybe there isn't a reason to be tense...maybe... the passage will be peaceful.
3. It's like swimming or doing well on a're scared to get in the water or try at first...but when you do actually jump in or see the results it's rewarding and you want to do it more. This isn't scary. Wow! The world isn't actually scary. (similar feeling to going to foreign country, surviving and making friends there).

For the past week I have been driving my mom's car to work on the West-side. The volvo station wagon feels like I'm in a tank. It makes my heart beat faster in a bad way, I feel anxious and for some reason more AFRAID even though I'm incased in a steel cage.
1. The car feels like I'm trying to hide from the environment (escaping people the way one escapes rain with an umbrella)
2. It's a big status I"m trying to show off wealth (unlike being on a humble bicycle)
3. It's something to loose...if the car gets jumped on or set on fire I loose a lot of $
4. I'm less mobile. If the car gets stopped I'm either stuck inside with the doors locked or I jump out and run...I am not fast or known for any type of endurance.

In theater (aka Chekhov) they say if a gun is introduced in the play it MUST go off. Don't put the gun in the play. Don't put the tank in the act. Don't move like you're about to be beaten. Get out of the tank and on your bicycle, it's better for everyone.


Blogger Kyle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

yah, I bike to work too from a working class neighborhood, through a wealthy neighborhood. In a car it's constant traffic jams, horrid construction, and the fear of car damage (got a car flat last week, much worse than bike flats). The bike ride is physically invigorating and mentally relaxing for me. I get to choose a nice scenic route that's impossible in a car.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Melissa Lewis said...

wow, you are BRAVE! I dont think I would even want to to there. I ride the bike everywhere! haha because I don't know how to drive yet.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

since i have not been able to ride a bike for a couple weeks i've been walking, and it's a big difference compared to biking as far as being physically and socially connected to my neighborhood. walking is to biking as biking is to driving.


12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice blog you got here... Just droppin' by to say hi!

11:45 PM  
Blogger phillipsan747 said...

I know how it is... I love cycling passionately and I commute to work as well, but I am stationed in New Orleans which is in the top ten most crime ridden cities. But I love this town and when you dive into it on a bike everything is seen from a different point of view... You become a part of the city which is really amazing. I am converting people at work to ride and so far I got two to mash the city with me and its defiantly an experience. Keep up with the revolution!!

PS- I still carry a knife on me which you should too or pepper spray. I have heard many bad cycling stories... Just lookin out!

11:47 AM  
Blogger Jewels said...

Powerful writing. I've put a shout-out up for you on my blog. Thanks for sharing!

1:09 PM  
Blogger Carolina said...

Hi, I popped over here from Jewels' blog. Your philosophy about being non-aggravating on your bike makes good sense to me. Perhaps we should give all armies bikes in stead of tanks. I'd love that. And no guns, but flowers and cake. (I will now go and hug a tree ;-))
No seriously, wise words! Stay safe.

1:36 PM  
Blogger maybe said...

like ur writing's the real deal. just keep on writing...

9:35 PM  
Blogger joven said...

hi, you have nice blog.. u can view also mine..

6:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:08 PM  

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