I thought our family made a lovely example for the low-car diet put on by Flexcar and the city of Portland. And we went to the kick-off event at Pioneer Square today and oh, was I right! We were almost mobbed, by Mike Donahue, by a reporter from KEX, by Ley Garnett of OPB (yay!), by other bloggers, and it was so much fun. In fact, as I write this I'm listening to myself on the radio and really? I think I don't sound entirely dumb. But on TV I'm upstaged by my cute baby (shown fondling my breast, naturally) and my husband (with the subhead "hopes to lose weight").
As you must know, however, I'm a far better writer than I am speaker. (Just as I'm better behind the camera than in front of it.) Let me tell you a little bit about how this car diet has been, so far.
As much as I love the kids and think it's great we can pull them in their cute hand-me-down trailer, my heart belongs to the solo bike ride. If I'm going to a meeting or on an errand without the kids, I pick the bike. It's not just because it's usually quicker than the bus (and no waiting for late busses or figuring out tricky connections). It's not just because of the way my muscles, my lungs, my heart feel as I power up a hill or into the wind on the Hawthorne bridge.
The real reason I love it so much is that I'm reconnecting with my city. Sure, I've been walking and running and toodling around in the car for the past four years, since I moved back to Portland from Northern Virginia (which, frankly, I hated). But biking puts me on a different level somehow -- both faster and slower than my previous connection. As I cut through the Hawthorne neighborhood I remember how I rode here when I was 12, getting away from it all in the early evening. As I power up a hill on Burnside near 70th, I remember taking this same hill when I was 13 and training for a long bike journey. I ride past buildings where I worked stuffing envelopes for a tax preparation company one summer; I discover that coffee shop I keep hearing about. I peek into houses, I inhale the scent of undiscovered residential gardens. I see how the city is changing, how it remains the same. I connect with the people and neighborhoods, see how the light and mood changes from Sellwood to Arleta.
When I get home, I feel both energized and exhausted. I eat everything in site, I drink bottle after bottle of cold water and my special herbal tea, and I discover that getting there is way more than half the fun.
[I'll be making frequent updates to my car dieting experience at Autoblog Green]