I’d rather be riding
Today I drove. Two weeks ago, I had to drive the car so it could have its yearly service. Today, I had to take it back. A warning signal was appearing that said: “Car service due in 800km or 34 days”. The mechanic hadn’t reset the car’s software to acknowledge the service was completed. I was keen to have this dealt with. Visions of the car refusing to run or exploding at the expiry of 800 kilometres or 34 days flooded my mind. Both were unlikely but I didn’t need those imaginings tormenting me.
It was strange driving in the car. I felt so immune to the world outside, which I guess is what some people like about riding in a car, enclosed, protected from the temperatures by conditioned air, no wind to mess up hair, a radio or music to listen to, one’s own little cocoon for travelling. And there once were days when I felt that way, and maybe I will again. But not today.
I noticed the stop, start, stop, start, as traffic lights blink the traffic to a halt and then the slow moving forward as each car in the queue winds up, moves through its gears to travel forward again. Then another stop.
It’s so different to the flow of my bicycle when I wheel along. I go slower than cars of course but I feel like I’m travelling faster. And sometimes I am. The bike paths take me across the waterways in a more direct route than many roads. It’s ironic that my average bike speed might be about 18 kilometres an hour and my car can exceed 100 kilometres an hour with ease yet, around the streets of my neighbourhood and this city, my bicycle gives me a better ride.
It’s the freewheeling feeling of the bicycle that makes the difference. There’s a feeling of flowing. My wheels roll. They use energy that’s freely available. They use energy from the land when I ride downhill, or the wind when it’s on my tail. The food I’ve eaten becomes fuel for pedalling.
It’s also the connection I feel with this world outdoors. I’m not immune to what’s happening in the sounds and smells, the sensations of heat or cold, the sights that travelling more slowly lets me see or the people it lets me say hello to. I can’t do that in a car. It’s all too fast.
As I drive the car today, I see people riding bikes and I want to be one of them. I stop my car at a STOP sign and let a woman walk her bike in front of my car. She waves in thanks and so does the man riding his bike on the adjoining road. I realise that I’m treating these bike riders like new-found royalty that I admire absolutely. And I do. I’m thankful to them for riding their bicycles. And as I sit in my car I’m envious of them. I want to be on my bike, riding, not driving this car.
I love having a car. There are times when I need it. There are more times when I don’t. This is becoming so very clear now.
So I had the choice today of continuing to drive the car on to Robina Town Centre where I had to collect my new prescription glasses but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to do it. It just felt lazy. I tried to convince myself that it would save time and it would but I don’t really need to save time. So, just like other occasions that I’ve needed to travel to Robina in the past three months, I walked over the road and caught the bus.