Standing and waiting like any other waiting, looking at cell phone to see time–the TTA buses are usually on time. When I’m not looking it comes. The driver, quite professional at discerning intent, sees me and I load my bike onto the front where there is room for two. How do they drive with that thing sticking out?
Now to breathe easy for a while, just me and the driver. It takes about 20 minutes to get from East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill to the VA Hospital in Durham. I sit and read or look out the window and find a bit of peace while riding through the old swampish lands and enjoy the warmth of the rumbling heat inside, soft light shining, warming outside. It is a nice break from the mental worry of here-to-there, this-then- that, and now-now-now, all meaning then-then-then, and whoops, already. In fact, I don’t remember what it’s like to drive. I hardly recall the hustle and frustration of sharing the road with other drivers and certainly not the annoyance of bicyclists slowing me down–“the road was made fer cars.” Indeed, but not people for cars.
Nor me for a car, at least for a while. Last summer I got a DUI and cannot drive until next October.
So I came back to this area from Asheville in part because of the transit systems and bike-friendly nature. There are numerous bike lanes in Chapel Hill and Carrboro where all buses are free. The TTA goes to any of the four Triangle hubs (including RTP) for $1.50 and transfers are free to any city or TTA bus. DATA buses in Durham and CATs in Raleigh are 75 cents. A bit of a cost to ride each day, but with gasoline setting all-time highs, the expense seems lessened, and discounted monthly passes are available. How nice, how truly nice, and light rail coming?
A fit anarchist and Critical Mass participant once told me that biking is “wonderful … it’s… it’s so exhilarating–everyone should do it.” At the time I would not heed the advice–afraid to ride a bike on the road. But these days I swerve, rather indiscriminately, hoping folks perceive my particular insanity and apathy. Not advised. Not advised.
These two wheels, a retro-evolution of the two-legged in a time when there is much due concern about renewable sources of energy, less dependence on foreign oil, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, carbon monoxide as a major polluter, estimates of 70 years on the remaining global supply of crude oil, American withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, abrupt climate change, etc.
So many issues that those who consider themselves conscious yet trapped by a lifestyle they didn’t choose might become frustrated, depressed, even cynical (wit covering pride twisting and wrangling the warm heart inside). I felt trapped and now I am, in a different sense, limited.
Either way, I wanted to do something, to make a change, and I didn’t know how. I didn’t understand how I could work the bus into my life or get out there on a bike when I was afraid and didn’t have one. But my friends had bikes, the buses had schedules and I had no license. One trip helps, one trip counts. Unfortunately, it took the help of the police to make the necessary changes.
This has certainly brought about some difficulties, but one problem is solved: I no longer worry for the validity of my “social consciousness,” nor must I worry (overly) about the inherent dangers of piety due to the circumstances by which my changes were made. Driving under the influence, like trying to make drivers think you’re crazy, is not advisable, but it has helped me. My life has slowed down tremendously and I am able to see things as they come more clearly without rushing by or entertaining so many thoughts of “next” and “have to”–because my options are limited, these things are very much taken care of, and I am very much free.
Maybe this summer I’ll move to Boulder or Boise. I hear they have greenways all through town.
For more information and links to Triangle area transit visit www.gotriangle.org or call the TTA at 549-9999.