Every Summer, there is a visible increase in bike ridership in Portland. Every year when the Tour de France starts, there are more bikes. This year, with gas topping four-bucks-fifty, there are still even more bikes. I’m not going to dwell on the recent incidents where bikes have been used to pummel drivers, and cars have been used to pummel bikers, because I like to be more positive than that.
In general, this is a good thing- for one, for the first time since the Carter-era gas shortage, car fatalities have gone down nationally.
On the other hand, I read that bike commuters are bad for the planet, because we live longer and use more resources, and if we really loved the earth, we’d all ride scooters and smoke, like those environmental superheroes, the French, who even stopped bathing to save water. And nobody asked them to.
Despite this, I like when there are more bikes, except when it inconveniences me- like when helpful wags wave at me manically as they approach in the wrong direction in the bike lane, or when the Portland police take it upon themselves to set up “sting” operations, like the one at the traffic circle in Ladd’s Addition on Monday. (In Little Rascals style, a bike who had been stopped at the Stop Sign Which Seems Superfluous circled back to the entrance of the Addition to warn the morning bike traffic that we’d better stop for once, which was very nice.)
This morning, a new commuter pulled up and we had the following conversation:
Nice Lady: Hey, I saw that you tripped the signal at 21st and Division! I thought we had to wait for a car!
Me: Oh, no, if you see a tar circle on the ground, pull into the outer third and it should trip the signal.
Nice Lady: That’s great! How long have you been bike commuting?
Me: (Bashfully) Well, several years anyway- I just hit 9000 miles on my odometer!
Nice Lady: Oh my gosh! Well, thanks so much!
Me: Um…Excuse me, but isn’t your helmet on backwards?