The Unnatural Path

Capitalism requires people to live on an unnatural schedule. Middle management wants you to get to work as quickly as possible. At job interviews they often ask, “Do you have a car?” In their mind the only efficient way to get to work outside of New York city is to have a car. Their idea of efficient means many things and quick is one of those things.

Quickly is not the most important virtue for transportation. Just quick kills people.

I like performing actions that cause the least amount of harm possible to people, animals and the planet.

I ride my bicycle, especially if it’s less than three miles, because it does a lot less harm than driving.

In many cities in the United States cycling is planned as a sports activity, so roads are to recreational places. That is wonderful. People need those options, but that’s not the only purpose of the bicycle.

Giving the public only a back road bicycle lane to a recreational spot pushes the idea that cycling isn’t a real way to accomplish everyday tasks. It limits the bicycle to leisure. It strips cycling of its utility as transportation. It turns cycling into a hobby for the rich and privileged.

I have been riding my bicycle as transportation as an adult for 15 years. As a child I rode my bicycle to the park many times. The park was my coffee shop when I was 10-years-old.

As an adult I have ridden my bicycle to the park 10 times, the last five times have been in the last six months, because I live next door to Branch Brook Park. I ride my bike to do things I want to do as person old enough to go to jail, vote and walk into the sex shop and not be carded.

I ride my bicycle to meetings, coffee and to work.

I need bicycle paths that gets me to where I need to go. I need to go to where there are people. I need to be relaxed when I get there. I am not relaxed when I have spent 30 minutes circling the drain for parking.

We need bicycle paths to get us to work and we need employers who are flexible. 9 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. are more or less the same time.

If everyone is going to work at the same time everyday and everyone is taking the same means of conveyance and everyone is getting high blood pressure and everyone is getting diabetes and everyone is getting migraines and everyone is sick and everyone is scared then you tell me how is that efficient?

How is that society efficient?

The bicycle is an efficient way to get us to where we need to go, but we need to change the idea of where a physical bike path should be and more importantly we need to change the idea of where we think we need to be and what time do we really need to be there.

Does every school have to start at 7:30 a.m.? Does every grocery store need to be open 24 hours a day? Is it required that all of us work 40 hours a week? Is it required that we all vote for a Democrat or a Republican? It it required that progressive means we just adjust oppression to be a little less oppressive?

This is not just about where the cycling path should be, but where should our paths be taking us on this journey that we call living.

by Teka-Lark Lo

Photo credit: Gulangyu Island, a car-free island off the coast of Xiamen, in Southeast China’s Fujian province. Li Luanhan for China Daily