KG in Seattle, WA -
Sometimes I need to take a bus to Microsoft. It’s easiest for me to bike to the station on the bridge and then I’ll often wait in a line of Seattle cyclists, who put their bikes in twos on the front racks of the busses. All the while, on both sides of us, the traffic is gridlocked and fuming, and most cars each have exactly one person in them.
I’m not so much against cars, having a need for them now and again and recognizing their convenience, as I am against the assumptive rights that car owners demand. I am against the greed of cars.
In turn, this has led me and my partner to chat about other things we tend to get greedy and demand single ownership of, as is human. Washing machines come to mind. Except for families with triplets, they sit silently in every basement in the city, a spinning frenzy only once or twice a week. While we’re doing the laundry, you might as well throw in the iron and ironing board as something we rarely use, unless you are like my mother who channels aggression into ironing underwear.
It’s like I’ve got a parking garage full of cars in nearly everything I’ve got around the house. Most of it goes underutilized.
Several years ago, Portland tried The Yellow Bike. The idea being that downtown, you’d be able to just walk outside, see a yellow bike and hop on it. You could ride around, and then when you got tired or got to your sandwich shop, you just lay it down and some other person would see the yellow bike and the cycle would begin again. Who would not love this idea, but for human greed and malfeasance? The Yellow Bikes got ridden away and quickly disappeared, a failure of communalism.
In my city, people can share books at the library and people can share rakes at a community garden (if they can wait out the lengthy waiting list to share dirt), but there are few other successful programs for sharing. Around us society shows us day in and day out, that sharing, leasing, or letting is a sign of failure, while owning is for winners. While we might scold two-year olds about sharing, as a society, we’ve rejected it.
Living without a car is often not glamorous. It usually requires planning and I often don’t go to places I would like to or I bum rides. However, what I like most about it is that it forces me to share and be more tied to my community.
I’d like to think that because of my bike, I know my neighbors and neighborhood a bit better. And that gets translated into a more communal life, where you can borrow my rake and I can ask you for a cup of sugar. So while I’m not leaving my bike unlocked in my front yard, if you asked me to take it for a spin, I’d let you.