Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Live Strong

Earlier this week, I hauled my bicycle out of the storage room and took a spin. Before you start getting all impressed, keep in mind that this bike is a four-speed cruiser with a basket. If I had a banana seat, an orange flag, and some plastic flowers I would hit the pinnacle of hipness. For now, I just have a nerdy bike helmet that makes me look like Mike Myers in the SNL skit where he played the hyperactive boy on a leash.

I bought the bike before we moved, from a craigslist advertiser in a fit of European dreaminess, picturing myself puttering along the cobblestones with a baguette in the basket. I had actually forgotten about the whole contraption until Jeff suggested I dust it off now that riding it wouldn't require all-weather-tires. So I pulled it out of the Fahrradraum (the special bicycle storage room near the Parking Space of Death, those Germans are so organized) and hopped aboard.

After my experience with German driving regulations, I shouldn't have been surprised to experience the supreme orderliness with which my fellow bikers and walkers share paths and roadways. I was used to seeing marked bike paths on busy streets, having come from The Most Bikeable City in America. But I also noticed (finally, after walking past them umpteen times before) the signs designating the bikers' side of the concrete paths through our nearby park versus the walkers' side. This is a good example of aspects of the German culture that I appreciate and ridicule simultaneously. Couldn't the walkers probably figure out that they should step aside when a bicyclist comes along, and shouldn't the bicyclists gently weave around the walkers on their own? Do we really need a sign to tell us what to do in this situation? However, isn't it nice not to have to look out for slow and apparently deaf walkers who won't get out of the way when I ring my cute little handlebar bell (a basket AND a bell!)? And isn't it nice when I'm walking along not to be nearly mown down by those reckless bicyclists?

By the way, please don't inform the German authorities of my Lance Armstrong moment, because I think there's another test I'm supposed to take to legally ride my bicycle through the park, and I'm just not mentally prepared for that kind of stress.


Anonymous said...

Nice to be ridiculed! I'm sure your German neighbors love your attitude.

Small wonder America is at war with so many peoples and nations!

Your ambassador would be proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,

Shut up. I don't think she was ridiculing you. I think she was trying to show that even with a recreational (fun) activity such as bicycling, the German society is very straight-laced. I.e. "NOW IS THE TIME TO HAVE FUN...IN A STRAIGHT WELL-ORGANIZED LINE, ENJOY YOURSELVES!"

I hardly think Blythe Spirit embodies or represents the entire American governmental system or policy towards diplomacy.

Lighten up. Ride a bike. Only in a straight line though...

anonymous 2