I’ve seen so many green, orange and yellow ride-share bicycles in the past two weeks that now when I see any other color bicycle I think a new bike share company just got started.
Three days ago I saw two non-rental bicycles locked together at a rack and I thought, “No! You aren’t supposed to lock them up! That’s not fair to the next customer.”
I cheer the fact that it is now possible, in theory, for me to rent a bicycle for the same price as a senior citizen fare on Metro buses and light rail.
Now I need an app to tilt the land down in the direction I want to go and I’ll be all set to retire my bus pass until the monsoons return. Or until my asthma returns. Or until my arthritis reminds me it never left.
That, and I’ll need to buy a helmet and figure out how I’m going to carry it when I’m not on a rental bicycle. Would it be unfashionable of me to wear mine on my head when on foot? Is that an option or would my fellow citizens regard it as unacceptable un-Seattle behavior? This is Seattle. Here we don’t smoke in doorways, we don’t walk and eat burgers simultaneously? Headscarves are OK, but we don’t wear bicycle helmets when off our bicycles?
Maybe I could get a helmet with rollers and make like a school kid with a backpack, or a frequent flyer with carry-on?
If I can’t carry it on my head, would using a front-facing baby pouch for the purpose be allowed? Or would that raise hackles on grounds it belittles the carrying of babies in those things?
I’m seeing so many new opportunities for petty social outrage coming from this. Then, there is the parking.
I have railed already on social media because somebody parked a green ride-share bicycle outside my building in such a way as to block wheelchair use at a sidewalk wheelchair cut. My building is a 12-story, low-income apartment building where almost all residents are elderly and many of them use wheelchairs or walkers.
Of course I wasn’t only propelled into online outrage by the callousness of the act itself, but by the opening it gave me to speculate on the stupidity of the person who parked the bicycle there. I used the “lights out and nobody home” metaphor, one of my favorites, short and simple. But there were so many choices, I could have spent hours expanding on the topic.
It’s amazing, actually, that a person could have sufficient awareness, reflexes and spatio-motor-kinesthetic judgment or whatever you call it, to ride a bicycle in Seattle traffic without injury, safely to a destination, and yet not have sufficient awareness to park the bicycle properly.
Such a brain should be saved in a pickle jar to be studied by science.
Then, there’s what is now being called “quirky parking.” I suggest a new verb, “to puirk.” Alternative spelling, “pwerk.” To pwerk is to intentionally park a bicycle in weird places.
Someone actually parked a bicycle on top of the Fremont Troll’s head. Other places to pwerk: freeway median strips, the top of Mount Rainier, inside the King County jail, inside a vat of set Jell-O, the observation deck of the Space Needle, hanging from a tree in Occidental Park 15 feet off the ground, festooned with Christmas decorations, embedded in bubble wrap, or disassembled and properly boxed and left leaning against a Federal Express drop-off, paid for and addressed to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
If any of you were to do any of those things, it would be very socially irresponsible of you, and shame should descend upon you and all your progeny for generations to come, even unto seven times seven generations.
Speaking of shame, and getting back to helmets, I was walking westward to work the day before yesterday and what passed me going eastward included eight people riding rental bicycles all within a block of each other, like it was a parade, and not one wearing a helmet.
Seven of them looked to me to be White.
I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be before that eighth rider would be dragged off his rental bike by a police officer and make the evening news?
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time a math professor and three times homeless. He has been involved with Real Change since he supplied the art for the first cover in November of 1994. This is his regular humor column, Adventures in Irony.
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