‘It’s stupid not to bike.’

Grandpa John whiled away his retirement making miniature pianos, replicas of JFK’s rocker, and other lovely bits of woodwork instead of riding a bicycle. For transportation he preferred a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior.

I don’t care to live in Copenhagen. The climate seems ill-suited to a worshipper of Tonatiuh who knows why his bog-trotting, ring-kissing, pub-crawling ancestors invented the uisce beatha.

My stepgrandfather on my mother’s side was a Dane, but he didn’t want to live in Copenhagen either. He lived in Sioux City, Iowa, where he was retired from the railroad and whiled away the hours drinking beer and smoking cigars, maintaining a medium-heavy vegetable garden in the back yard, and making lovely bits of this and that in a basement full of woodworking tools.

I don’t recall ever seeing Grandpa John aboard a bicycle, though he certainly had the leisure time for cycling. He drove a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior, because that’s what a fella did in America.

Which is a shame, really. Because if we hadn’t built our cities around Grandpa John’s stately maroon Cadillac with cream interior, The New York Times might be writing stories about Albuquerque, the cycling capital of the Southwest, where the residents neither own cars nor care to, because the bicycle “is typically the easiest way to get around.”

Albuquerque probably has Copenhagen beat when it comes to cycling weather. Today, for example, we’re looking at mostly sunny conditions with a high in the low 60s, and more than 10 hours of daylight, while Copenhagen can expect a high in the low 40s, rain, and less than nine hours of daylight.

But if you think I’m gonna ride my cargo bike to the Sunport to fetch Herself home when she jets in from Florida, well, think again, Jens old scout.

First, the Sunport is a 25-mile round trip from El Rancho Pendejo, with a thousand feet of vertical gain. Second, Herself travels about as lightly as Hannibal crossing the Alps. And third, the roads seem to be full of cars for some reason. Not stately maroon Cadillacs with cream interiors, mind you, but suburban tanks about the size of Hannibal’s elephants. And their mahouts are all inattentive, impaired, or insane.

Anyway, I don’t have a cargo bike. Because for better or for worse, Albuquerque isn’t fucking Copenhagen.

And until we rethink our cities and how we get around and about in them, we’ll have to settle for reading about Paradise from our parking lots.

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14 Responses to “‘It’s stupid not to bike.’”

  1. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Never been to Copenhagen but it’s hard to believe the weather could be worse than Sioux City, IA where I spent 20 years while the wife taught at the school that produced the founder of Hooters. If I had been born there I doubt I would ever have done much bicycling once the 20″ models were outgrown. Here in Sicily the wife flies back from Greece tomorrow and will catch the bus from the airport for $10 and if she doesn’t want to walk from the bus stop to the house another $10 will take care of that. Lots less than the $9K a year they say it costs to own and operate a car in the USA.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’m surprised Texas summers didn’t beat the bicycling out of me. But if you wanted to go anywhere on Randolph AFB in the 1960s, it was walk or ride a bicycle.

      We were a one-car family until the old man finally bought a piece-of-shit Anglia for Mom. It had a wicked shimmy that kicked in around 30 mph.

      We were safer on the bikes.

      I’m not certain what we pay to drive the Furster. It’s long since paid off, of course, and sees the mechanic about twice a year, because I don’t drive much. So I’m guessing it’s well under nine thou’ per annum.

      Herself’s Honda is another story. That rig is six years younger, we’re still paying it off (low interest rate), and she drives every day. I should get her to crunch the numbers, now that you’ve gotten me curious.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Strong Towns, one of those organizations that gets a check out of me annually, puts the average cost of commuting by car at about $0.34 per mile. Of course that all depends on the kind of car and the kind of mile. But indeed, we have built our cities to kill anyone not in a car.

    Shit, when I was up in Bremen in a cold, wet January and the sun was a rare sight, there were lots of folks on bikees. I wrote this when I got back to BombTown.


    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      There may be hope for the future. A bunch of the neighborhood parents have commandeered our cul-de-sac, and their kiddos are charging around and about on striders, tricycles, scooters, and bicycles.

      No pix, sorry. Ain’t nothing in this world creepier than some old man with a camera taking pix of children at play.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    The times they are a changin’. It can’t get much worse, and I hope the change accelerates. With the house on fire, it better accelerate hard. When I hear people talk about electric cars or driverless cars, I frown and say the right answer is less damn cars. It doesn’t matter who’s driving the sumbitches or what fuel they run on. They are inefficient people movers and need too much infrastructure.

    • larryatcycleitalia Says:

      Yep, people forget about the amount of real estate the damn things take up. My fantasy is to get all the cars off our tiny island unless they can be put somewhere out-of-sight. Radical? Yep, but that’s what they said when they banned cars from the main piazza many years ago. I don’t think anyone would stand for letting cars fill it up again, electric or otherwise!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Fo’ troo. You have any idea how many more bicycles I could fit in the garage if we didn’t have two cars in there?

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Oy veh. There he goes again.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’ll need room for helmets, too, since the National Transportation Safety Board recommends that all 50 states pass laws requiring us to wear them.

        I’m assuming this means I’ll need 50 helmets, plus a couple extra for DeeCee and the Dominican Republic.

        • larryatcycleitalia Says:

          Just read the BR&IN piece – and thought “What a great way for the anti-cycling folks to get some help!” Bike-sharing and the like seem to go way down if crash-hats are required. Rick Vosper’s comments on the piece are dead-on, as usual.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          When I go out to ride, 99 times out of 100 I’m wearing a helmet. The good hard crashes I’ve enjoyed have always seen my noggin bounce off the pavement or trail a time or two, and without a nice thick mat of hair to save me a nasty, highly visible scalp wound, I figure that wearing a helmet makes some sense.

          But sheeeeyit. After a teenager in Mom’s Deranged Rover centerpunches you from the rear at 65 mph with a beer in one hand and his dick in the other, you could be wearing a Tony Stark tuxedo and the family still won’t approve an open casket at your funeral.

          • larryatcycleitalia Says:

            When I climb on a road bike (except the epoca ones) I too have a crash-hat atop my bald noggin, with a bandana underneath it, despite what the Big-S lawyers proclaim. Maybe it’s only Big-S brand helmets that won’t work if you wear something under them? They should tell their pro teams about that, no?
            But when I hop on the shopping bike I never grab a crash-hat even though I often ride on the same roads. If a careless or homicidal motorist runs me over while riding either bike and smashes my head, how is that MY fault? This blame the victim stuff has got to stop whether it’s that or the old “the woman was raped because her skirt was too short” routine.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        My shop here in Sicily is so small the only car that might fit inside could be a 60’s Fiat 500 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_500

  4. Hurben Says:

    For Po’G & Po’B & all the other people who can claim to have some Irish in them

    This gem…

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