• Marilyn Gardner Woods

MPH-a slower option?

I marched briskly towards Gail’s house for our regular walk this morning. Best part—we end at the bright yellow should-be-historic-designated landmark on Fifth, Jimmy’s Carters, for a breakfast burrito and steaming hot cups of cinnamon coffee. It didn’t take long to notice, as I walked, that on either side of First Avenue more two wheel than four wheeled vehicles lined the street. We are living a two-wheel revolution.

In my former life living rurally, I anxiously awaited the neon red firecracker spikes of the Candelabra Aloe succulent plant that blooms reliably every winter in Southern California. This year instead, the explosion of snazzy and shockingly brilliant red orange bicycles, so unlike the second-hand pale blue Schwinn of my girlhood, electrify every neighborhood of my urban existence.

Instead of cruising in automobiles capable of speeds up to 150 mph (forty to fifty mph on the main streets in my hood) multitudes whiz by on scooters and bikes in the same streets. The scooters, three or four brands, have been scattered on sidewalks throughout Banker’s Hill and surrounding areas now for over a year and a half. Uber, no longer exclusively automobile rideshare, premiered its Jump bicycle, three hundred of them in all, in San Diego at the end of 2018. Like rabbits, both scooters and bikes have multiplied rapidly and they compete daily for riders.

What’s next? Who’s the lucky guy ahead of the curve destined to make a quick fortune? I wonder if it could be carriage rides?

Is it possible we are headed back to horse and buggy era? And if so, are helmets required? And if they would be, would enforcement work better? What would the enforcements be?

As neon-red cycles and lime green scooters permeate every step of our lives, are they simply gas savers? Parking solutions? Or is this a part of the pendulum swing away from the fast-paced, breakneck-speed lives we live? Could we possibly be headed for a massive slowdown? Is the concept of clopping along behind a Clydesdale or relying on the sturdy draft-horse breed like the Amish the next step lurking on some software engineer’s to do list—to create a phone app for a buggy ride? Is the idea of exchanging that butt-crunching excruciatingly uncomfortable triangular bike seat for the plush leather two-person seat Queen Victoria was escorted around England in the eighteenth century about to materialize?

The horse and buggy would allow us to carpool to work; perhaps to converse with our riding partner. Even wave at a neighbor, instead of whooshing along on a scooter or electric assist bicycle, changing lanes and ignoring traffic signals and stop signs? Improbable to be ticketed by a “just doing my duty, mam” policeman. And think of what we’d save on gas.

Just when I’m deciding this is fabulous idea I could get behind, enlarged doggie poop bags come to mind. And where to park at Nordstrom’s? Would I be able to drive through Starbuck’s for an afternoon latte? And my kids—it would be at least a day’s ride to my daughter’s house in North County. And several days to my son in Arizona.

The pros and cons of a horse and buggy lifestyle, markedly different from my commute these days, revolve in my mind. In the meantime, while I ponder a much simpler and slower lifestyle, I’m off to the corner for my maiden ride on a bright red bike, iPhone in my pocket, helmet on my head.


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