I had a stunning (as usual) twelve-mile ride in Atlanta yesterday to clear my head. I’m immersing myself in doing my advisors’ edits of my new book, Slow Duck Crossing, and it takes a lot. Being back in the vibrancy of the city helped to refuel me creatively.
Most of the photos below are from the Atlanta Beltline, but that’s just a tiny part of where I ride.
Even after all these years, it still shocks me how much easier and more natural it is to ride a bike in the City of Atlanta than it is to ride in the Metro Atlanta burbs (including the ones with awards, folks). Honestly, no frickin’ comparison.
No Bike Noodle needed. No body camera (although it’s still a good idea). No sidewalk-riding indignity. Just hopping on whichever bike I prefer that day (including bikeshare) and riding to actual places where I need (or just want) to go, mile after mile after mile*.
Meeting nice strangers (masked and distanced). Supporting local businesses. Discovering art and advocacy. Feeling normal, like my full self there, not like some farty old woman simply trying to buy a loaf of bread or do a civic duty without getting killed while taking the radical action of riding a bicycle in a place that literally promotes itself as family-friendly. (If interested, see the video of my witnesses’ account when I survived a hit-and-run in July 2020 between my home and my suburb-city’s main park.)
Since 2013, I rode in the City of Atlanta five days a week as part of both my job as a writer and my art as a street photographer. The pandemic has upended that and I’ve been lucky if I get in once a week (and I haven’t taken the train, which is my usual multimodal combo with my bike, since the day before the first lockdown in March 2020). However, while researching and writing Slow Duck Crossing, I haven’t been in for six weeks (since mid-February) and frankly I was starting to go a little batsh*t crazy. (You may have noticed!)
Two questions still astound me:
How do people live accepting the gutter of failed imagination about bike riding in the ‘burbs? How do people live without art?
Oh, and by the way, my free Pedal Power with Pattie class for April is now booked. I met someone on Belty yesterday who never learned to ride and wants to. (You can still take my class via three other free ways.)
So, even though I’m leaving this photo from yesterday as my “holding space” until I finish the edits of my book on April 13, I’ll most likely be Traveling at the Speed of Bike in the City of Atlanta once each week. I’m much, much happier that way (my family notices instantly), and there’s no reason to be an April fool about it.
*Granted, there are huge parts of the City of Atlanta that are not fit for riding a bike yet, but there are so many places where you can ride in ways that would blow your mind if you haven’t done it yet. See my free self-guided bike tours here for a sample of welcoming routes.