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Helmet as spirit-creature

Crashes.

It’s as though bicycles are stout, low-flying airplanes. Crashes follow like shadows, bikes falling from the sky . . .

The first expression that flits across listeners’ faces when I inform them of my strange bike commuting habit is often horror. Aren’t you afraid of cars? Sometimes that initial response is replaced with rueful admiration or wistfulness, sometimes not. Either way, the conversation invariably turns to crashes.

“Bad” behavior.

  • They say: And THEN he ran a red light!
  • Bikes can’t be cars and pedestrians both. You CAN’T have it all.
  • She was going right down the middle of the street (thanks, bikeyface).
  • He wasn’t wearing a helmet . . . and he was texting.
  • I can’t BELIEVE she’d ride with her toddler in the street like that. Get on the SIDEWALK for God’s sake! (Subtext: people are nuts . . . and SHE’S a bad mother!)

Theft.

They say: I had a terrific bike. And then it was STOLEN. (Full disclosure: I’m guilty as charged. All of my bikes until my most recent went the way of carelessness, followed by swift theft.)

What we don’t talk about when we talk about biking.

  • Watching spring bloom, leaf by petal.
  • Winter’s muted beauty.
  • Dinner on the table by seven in homes across the city, scents wafting out.
  • Drivers who smile and wave. Who give you the thumbs-up sign when you’re riding in the rain and they’re safe in their metal boxes, kind of wishing they were you.
  • Childhood trikes and bikes and scooters. Big wheels. Those first moments, that taste. A breeze of your own making. And a freedom like flying.
  • Being content in your own company.
  • Easy, effortless living-in-the-moment.
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