One week ago, I brought back the bike shown above – it opened up a whole new world of mobility and gave me an immediate sense of freedom. This isn’t a special bike, just an 18-speed kid’s bike. But I rode it almost every day since bringing it to Amherst. Fortunately, the Ellicott Creek bike trail runs very close to my apartment, is well paved and was a good place to for me to get into cycling in a suburban setting. Unfortunately, few roads in the area have bike lanes (or even sidewalks).
Nevertheless, I wanted to test my limits with this new means of transportation, so I went on an errand. The goal: buy concert tickets. It is about a 5 minute drive, or a 20 minute bike ride to the store selling these tickets which is on Niagra Falls Boulevard – an extremely busy commercial strip. I chose the latter and was treated to a scenic ride along a river for most of my trip and even discovered a dog park on an island (which I stopped at on my way home) along the way. The downside is crossing major roads on a bicycle can be a bit confusing since I dont have a turning signal to inform other drivers where I am going.
To further extend the limit of suburban transportation, I decided to ride my bicycle 4.5 miles to the University Station (metro). I picked up a new* (*15 year old bike that I am borrowing for the summer) today and opted to take that on its maiden venture to the train station. The ride took 30 minutes and was moderately challenging, but I made it, and parked my new* bike on campus near by. Within 15 minutes I was standing outside the Market Arcade building to meet Colin for dinner. Fortunately, he drove his car to work so I was able to leave my backpack (with a change of clothes and my helmet) in his car during the concert.
This experience was the first time that I was able to get to a downtown event, in a city, without a car – all the way from UB North, 17 miles away. The idea of getting where you want to go without a car is my idea of urban living, and a simple bicycle combined with public transit, allowed me to extend this urban idea into the suburb. I learned that with a bicycle, you are only limited to physical endurance, motivation, and confidence to share the road with motorists.
Also, the show was fantastic – if you ever get a chance, see “Fitz and the Tantrums” live in concert.
I do have to admit that I did not ride my bicycle back to my apartment tonight – Colin drove me and the bike there. 1. Its dark and I’m not prepared to ride at night 2. The rear tire was flat when I got back (but at least the bike was there – we were seriously concerned given the area).