So it’s been a busy couple weeks in the Bikeable Jo house. I work at the University of Edinburgh and with the thousands of new students – and the thousands upon thousands returning students – the past few weeks have been full of events, project beginings, catching up, and meeting mania. But I do love this time of year – it’s exciting to be part of and hopefully helpful in others’ transitions.
At the end of the long day, there is nothing better than spotting my Saracen in the bike rack, putting on my lights (it’s getting to be that time of year, folks), and letting the hills, the wind, and a few strong pedals carry me home.
I have come to appreciate the vulnerabilty of the cycling experience. I certainly don’t mean its vulnerability in terms of safety – exposed to bigger scarier vehicles who seem to always find things to yell at me on the road. I mean the openness that the bike allows.
When in a car, you are are surrounded by heavy materials which prevent any connection with those travelling around you. Just think of the hundreds of people in their cars you may pass every morning and probably wouldn’t recognise. The other day, I was at a traffic light with another cyclist who – after a moment – checked out my pannier rack and struck up a conversation about how he is looking for something similar. In the time it took the light to turn, we had a nice chat about the city and I was able to shamelessly promote Bikeable Jo. On the trail each day, I’ve come to look forward to a quick smile to those I pass and the thank you offered to those that make way for cyclists.
It feels like such a humane way to travel. Sure – there can be silly competition at lights (I’m still not really sure of the stop light etiquette) but there can be some brilliant banter as well. Often, I try and take the opportunity to acknowledge those that pull off the bikeable style (which is pretty much anyone on a bike, according to my definition) in these situations.
As someone who is inspired by connecting with people, it’s another reason (which I didn’t expect) I’ve come to love the cycling in this city.
Photos by the lovely Dani from Dani’s Drawers