When I was an undergrad, I owned a terrible bike of the sort you get from Target or Wal-Mart. It was the poster child for what cycling enthusiasts call a Bike-Shaped-Object. When I graduated, I left the thing chained to bike rack next to the mailroom, and the key hidden in an envelope between two books in the library. It was a riddle for anyone willing to take it on – I left a big fat hint on the Livejournal community – essentially, “the key is between two books in the stacks relevant to my future career”. That would be library science, for those of you not paying attention.
Anyway, I went back to my alma mater in January and the key was gone but the bike was still there. It’s a mystery, but not really. The thing was rusted to hell and back and I don’t think the brakes were working all that well when I locked it up before I left.
The point of this story is, I’m a bike commuter. When I moved to Austin, I picked up a bike that was almost the same as the bike I had before. As can be expected, it was a piece of crap and I had to practically beg the local bike shop to fix it when a part of the crank kept breaking. Eventually, I wised up and kicked that thing to the curb (i.e. I sold it on Craigslist for $10). Then I purchased a real bike – a 1983 Schwinn varsity. It’s a Chicago Schwinn, one of the “most bomb-resistant bikes ever built” according to the late Sheldon Brown.
In my daily commute, I don’t have to go very far – just between my apartment and campus, which is approximately 1.4 miles each way. That’s peanuts in the bike commuting world, but I’d also like to point out that somehow it’s uphill both ways. However, when I move to Evanston, my commute will be longer but also FLAT AS A PANCAKE. I may freeze to death, but at least I don’t have to go up so many damn hills! I expect to be biking a lot more in my new city, given that finding a parking space usually involves a fight to the death and I’m going to be within walking/biking distance of not just my workplace, multiple grocery stores (including Whole Foods), my new Aikido dojo and two El stops.
To compare, I’ve plugged in all the places I’ve lived in on WalkScore – a website that gives you a “walkable” score for your neighborhood.
- My new place in Evanston: 84 (out of 100)
- My current apartment in Austin: 75
- My boyfriend’s apartment: 37
- Parents’ house in Bixby, OK: 6
- Galesburg (IL) Apartment (Senior Year): 51
- House in Tulsa, OK (College): 5
- House in Tulsa (High School): 3
So far, the bike-commutability/walkability of the places I’ve lived in has improved with each move…i.e. I moved from Tulsa (3-6), to Galesburg (51), to Austin (75) and now to Evanston (84). In all fairness, I should point out that Tulsa does have Biker Fox going for it…