Glissette Rides A Bike: A Reflection

The bike that got me through Critical Mass. Sorry I fell on you. Photo by Glissette Santana

This is the final installment of a week-long cycling series. Read the first, second, third and fourth installments. 

I have to be honest — I chickened out on my last challenge. My nerves got the best of me (something that has been happening a lot with this series) and I didn’t have the courage to take my bike out at night. I almost had an anxiety attack during the day; I didn’t want to imagine my emotions after the sun went down. Needless to day, I’ll be sticking to protected bike trails and large social rides until I get the confidence to get out on the open road.

Frankly, I’m disappointed in myself. But just because I wasn’t able to finish this challenge doesn’t mean I’m completely deterred from biking as a form of transportation. In fact, I’m inspired to learn more about the rules and regulations, as well as talk to advocates for using biking as transportation.

I used to gawk at a former co-worker of mine, Kelsey Walker, whenever I’d see her coming into the Kinder Institute offices dressed in her business casual with a bike helmet under arm. I was fascinated. She rode her bike to work almost every day and, along with some others in the office, is a total advocate for biking as a mode of transport. I emailed her to understand a bit more about why she used her bike instead of public transit. Here’s something interesting she said:

“As biking to work has become a habit, I’ve come to appreciate other aspects of the bike commute. I find that 15-20 minutes of gentle exercise is a great way to get my mind moving in the morning. Now, on the rare day that I don’t bike to work, I feel like I haven’t fully woken up yet. Also, I look at the city in a different way when I bike. The tires on my road bike are quite thin, so I’m constantly scanning the street in front of me for pieces of glass and pavement cracking. I’m obsessed with the details that emerge when I examine the city at this scale. Along Heights Boulevard, for example, the most recent layer(s) of pavement don’t quite reach the edge of the road in some places, and there are tiny slivers where you can see can the old brick pavers showing through. I love imagining the entire street paved with brick! I only notice textures and nuances like this when I bike.”

I’d never thought of it that way. During the tasks I did complete, I had definitely seen the city in a different light. But those subtle nuances: the pavement, the cracked sidewalks, the glass — those were all things I noticed but didn’t pay attention to. I got to see the city I had lived in my entire life in a new way; it was extraordinary.

I’m going to try this challenge again. When? I don’t know. And hopefully, next time, I’ll be more prepared for what lies ahead. I just need to get back out there with my bike and try again. Wish me luck!

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Glissette Santana

Glissette Santana is the web and social media editor for the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

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