Does everyone remember "Bike to Work Day" back in mid-May? In the Bay Area there was also a monthlong bike-commuting challenge--and one of the life-lovers in my office signed us up. He recruited a team of us to use our bikes as much as possible, including to and from work and for errands around town, and log our miles. I signed up, because I think biking to work is a good idea, and it's certainly feasible for me, since my office is a mile and a half from home.
There's one hitch, though. I don't really like riding my bike. It's an old Trek mountain bike which is in fine working condition, but it's really heavy. The thing I like the least is that I drop it all the freaking time: going through doors, loading the panniers, leaning it against something to open the damned gate. Twice I've dropped it and had the gears gouge into my shins--I still have scars from the last time I did it. I don't like getting chain grease on my clothes, I don't like cinching up my pants leg or tearing it on the gears. One day I tried riding while wearing a longish, full skirt (no cuff to contend with, right?)--and all the while I was afraid of some Isadora Duncan-type entanglement accident. One day I tried riding while wearing a shortish straight skirt. I ended up not being the only thing riding--that skirt rode up so far that I flashed everyone in oncoming traffic. This all does not add up to a stress-free commute for me.
I lasted for about two solid weeks on the monthlong bike challenge, and then I flaked.
My favorite way to commute, actually, is to walk--and if I don't have errands, or lunchtime pet potty break duty, I often do walk. But back in May I remembered seeing an NYT article about adult-size scooters (they're also known as kickbikes or footbikes). So I did a little research, and chose a Sidewalker City.
By mid-June I had it assembled and started riding it to work. It's really fun (It came with a little bell!), and much less hassle than my bike. I still wear a helmet, but otherwise I don't feel that I have to change clothes to get on it. It feels like it weighs about 15 pounds less than my bike, so lifting it up steps or holding onto it while opening the office door isn't nearly as difficult. Since I'm standing upright while on it, I feel like I'm more visible to motorists.
Riding downhill (which my to-office commute mostly is) is super-easy and fun. Sometimes, if I want to go faster, I crouch down a little to decrease my air resistance, like I would if I were coasting downhill on skis. And then I laugh at my middleaged self. The uphill ride home is pure work--almost no coasting at all, just pounding feet, Fred Flintstone-style. But I figure if I keep at it I will have one toned ass.
And it gets a lot of attention. I haven't seen anyone else on one, although I have seen some guys commuting on those little-wheel Razr-type scooters. My favorite comment was from a crusty old coot, who had some kind of mini-trailer hooked to the back of his dilapidated bike, who croaked "Where's yer pedals?" I don't need 'em, dude.