Jan 272024
Thank Heavens for Kind Strangers and Transit

Ride of 2024: Sunny, happy, delightful.

Ride of 2024: The reason I’m glad Olympia has transit.

A few days after ride I set off in the sunshine for a trip to a meeting with Lee Lambert, executive director of Cascade Bicycle Club. The very light snow from the day before still showed in places, had melted off in others, and I could hear the trickling of that melting water running into the storm drains. Rolling along in the bike lane, I enjoyed making my tire track the first one to show that people ride in winter as well as in summer.

All went well until I passed from the sunny stretch along East Bay Drive into the shade just before I’d be turning right on Olympia Avenue. That bit of snow hid black ice. My front tire washed out dramatically to the left and down I went, hard.

I lay there for a minute or two, stunned and really incapable of moving at all. Wind knocked out of me, I suppose. The very first driver to come along pulled over ahead of where my bike and I lay and came back to help. He picked up Zelda the e-bike and got her parked on the sidewalk. By then I’d managed to drag myself across the lane to the curb and hoist myself up to sit, but I wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.

His wife (I’m assuming here) came back to join us and they talked with me to make sure I was all right. I assured them I was and called my Sweet Hubs, who was only five minutes away, to come to my rescue. They would have stayed until he got there if I hadn’t said they should be on their way since they’d already given me the gift of time and care, thanking them for their kindness to a stranger. Not two minutes after they pulled away from the curb, a man walking a dog across the street called out, “Do you need a hand?” I replied, “No thanks, help is on the way, but thanks for offering!” Nothing like having a fall to experience how helpful people can be.

I texted Lee to let him know I’d be a few minutes late thanks to a crash; Sweet Hubs picked me up and got me to the coffee shop where he waited. Lee said, “Of all the people who would understand canceling a meeting due to a bike crash, you know that’s me, right?” I laughed and agreed, stretched my swollen and aching left knee out, and we had a genuinely good meeting of around an hour or so. And then I went to Urgent Care.

Two weeks later the strained ribs and back I had at first have stopped hurting and the sprained knee is doing better. I wear a brace, ice it 2-3 times a day, take ibuprofen/acetaminophen, and have been taking it easy and not walking much, not riding at all.

The last couple of days, however, I’ve been getting out more. I had meetings in downtown and could get there with a combination of walking and transit. Intercity Transit is fare-free, yay for that! We’re currently in a short-term rental while our house is getting an extensive remodel and one of the features of the location is that I have transit service on multiple lines on nearby streets. The Transit App makes it easy to consider which option to use and gives me a little haptic buzz when it’s time to start walking to the stop or get off the bus. (If we had a bikeshare system it would also show those options.)

In addition to those meetings, Friday I went to the doc for the two-week check-up on the knee, again taking transit. The prognosis is good and my physical therapy assignment is to live my life and stop when it hurts. With that in mind I chose to walk to a transit stop farther away from that office for my return trip. Farther than I thought it was, in fact, but I had time.

As I waited for the bus it struck me once again how I’ve transformed my ideas about convenient transportation from back when I drove as my default. I’ve built movement into my life as part of getting places, rather than paying for a membership at a gym and driving there. I’ve planned ahead for my old age or a disability that would remove my ability to drive; I’d still know how to get around using other modes. I’ve made getting places fun again with the joy of bicycling. I’ve shifted the balance around what constitutes a transportation hassle; waiting at a bus stop reading is a lot less frustrating than sitting in a traffic jam. I have transportation independence that you don’t have if you’re only comfortable using driving to get around.

We’re a one-car family by choice. I could drive with my bum knee if I had to; it’s not a manual transmission. But I don’t want to. I’d rather have that time on the bus (or Amtrak if I’m going to Seattle or Vancouver or Bellingham) to do as I choose whether that’s catching up on email, reading, knitting, or looking out the window to observe the passing scenery. When I drive I’m only driving and that isn’t an activity worth giving that much of my life to! I give it attention, because I should: I drive with care, I go the speed limit, I’m looking for people walking or rolling and I’m following the rules. But that truly isn’t the highest and best use of my time.

Today Sweet Hubs and I again made use of transit. Normally on a Saturday we walk over 2.5 miles from our home to the Olympia Farmers’ Market and put in more walking for errands and sometimes a coffee or lunch date in downtown. Then we either walk back or ride the bus. We didn’t want to overdo on my knee recovery so it was transit to the rescue.

My tally for the past three days: eight trips on transit, zero hassle, zero out of pocket cost, and progress toward knee recovery I wouldn’t have if all my transportation took place seated.

When we listed features we consider essential in a place we’d want to live, bike/walk facilities and transit access both topped the list. I didn’t grow up riding a city bus or a subway—didn’t ride a bus until after college and my first subway experience was sometime after that. Now I wouldn’t live without transit.

And Sweet Hubs will give Zelda a thorough going-over. At first glance, the bike was fine.

Related reading

Sharing is karma--pass it along!

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.