The air hangs heavy with the buttery fragrance of magnolia. It’s almost too much when I breath in and out up hills in the heat. Flower petals spill open, as my bike pedals spill open. As I spill open, my sweat and joy on equal display for all the world to see. I am rocking — back and forth to mount that hill, and to the beat in my single EarPod of my BikeBloom Hot Town Summer in the City playlist on Spotify. Summer Breeze. I Feel the Earth Move. Wild Things. It’s all there.
My flip-flopped feet are ten years old again, and every moment of my past, present and future resounds in every sound of my bell. I feel, perhaps delusionally, like That Girl, thinking that every person in every passing motor vehicle wants whatever it is I have right now that’s making this heat bearable. That’s making life bearable.
They may just be feather-light upcycled bike tube earrings that swing from my lobes as I lollypadoodle but they take me back and forward in life. They take me places real and imagined. They take me The Long Way Home.
Good News in the Bikey World
The most beautiful bike rack in the United States just got installed in the park near my home. Created by an artist named Huelani Mei, it also includes a large new concrete area where I had the opportunity to rollerdance last week.
Unfortunately (for now), every road leading to this park is dangerous-by-design (see my user’s guide to riding a bike for transportation in my city, and consider creating one for yours). My city councilor agrees with me and is pursuing the grant I recommended from the League of American Bicyclists.
The Community Sparks grant would be perfect for a pop-up protected bike lane as a pilot example of what’s possible. The deadline for applying is July 15. I offered to write the grant for the city if they wanted to hire me because I know that timeframe is impossible for many people, so we’ll see. If your city has been considering some quick, temporary fixes, now’s the time (see your city’s 2022 ratings from PeopleForBikes). Crosswalks could use some help, too:
Below are some other ideas from the League’s website page about the grant. I love that they include the #RedCupProject. I included that in this email to city hall a few years ago following a Ride to Lunch with the then-mayor. No matter where you live in the USA, there is surely an idea here for your community.
Check out these examples of projects that might give you some ideas of things your community could do:
- Tactical Urbanism Guide
- AARP The Pop-Up Placemaking Tool Kit
- Discover Traffic Gardens
- #RedCupProject demonstration for protected bike lanes
- The Takoma Park Equity Walk
- Dance Mob Pop Up demonstration for dangerous intersections
- Strategies to Increase Physical Activity from the CDC
Note: You can actually add miles of multiuse path literally overnight for free by simply doing this. My city (in recognition of its known dangerous-by-design conditions) is the only one in the State of Georgia that has done so.
Stuff We Love
Free fruit and gifted ukuleles, folks. These are particular summer joys while rockin’ BikeBloom earrings (see the Etsy shop to get your upcycled bike tube earrings, either two-abreast or singletrack). The public fruit has been a passion of mine for a long time now (there’s even a whole section about in this book), and trust me, when it’s 98 degrees and you come upon ripe peaches, that’s a good moment.
As for the ukulele, my daughter had two — one at home and one at university. She recently graduated and consolidated her life in one place so she offered me her second one. I’ve been throwing this over my back and taking liittle breaks in the shaded woods to learn how to strum and play some chords while building strength in my hands.
I’m truly terrible, but better than yesterday, and maybe that’s all we can ask for in this world.
And then, as luck would have it, I found a trumpet in the trash! I ordered a new mouthpiece for it, which just arrived. So, fair warning — I’ll be out there, folks. And it’ aint gonna be pretty.
Speaking of pretty, however, sunsets under the power lines are a definite vibe and I’ve been zipping up there on my little ebike to catch the glorious show. In fact, I’ve been bringing the ukulele. Could this become a thing? Would other people join me? A motley orchestra right there in public space on the side of a dangerous-by-design road?
In the meantime, here are some BikeBloom earrings at sunset under the power lines:
Poems at the Speed of Bike
I wrote this poem at the beginning of the pandemic. There have been two additional blackberry seasons since then (including right now), for which I am grateful.
And There Will Be Blackberries
and there will be blackberries
on those wild brambles you usually pull as weeds
but don’t this year
because there is too much else to distract you;
and there will be baby birds
in nests you now see for the first time
because you sat on a bench
on the side of your house for hours one day
when the crisis first hit home
and watched cardinals snatch dryer lint to build them;
and there will be sudden peals of laughter
from children playing (playing!)
when you are staring at the ceiling
and thinking about how heavy you feel,
which will give you just enough strength
to get up and put your socks on;
and there will be a subtle, almost imperceptible shift
from spring to summer,
and you will notice it this year
because you will be hyper aware
of how some living things will thrive and others will die;
maybe even you.
there is some small consolation in knowing that
because of you,
there will be blackberries.
Here are all the BikeBloom links in one handy place. As always . . .
Trust the journey,
Bikes still stand for freedom, and they can’t take that away.