Saturday, February 03, 2007

It's Real

Had quite a few interesting conversations (rather, interactions) today, all inspired by the bicycle. Riding on a frigid day makes folks question you a bit, or pity you, or whatever, but these things give openings in conversation - a way to preach, if you will.

1st one was at a hardware store #2. I was looking for a repacement thermostat for the furnace. I punched my thermostat this morning. I bought it three years ago, a touch screen programmable thermostat, and it has gone all screwy in it's old age. I woke up to a 50 degree house and it wouldn't let me raise the temperature. So I punched it, HARD. An extensive background in Karate-Do and Shaolin Arts and this is the result. A busted thermostat. So I had to get a new one. At the checkout line in the hardware store #2 (#1 didn't have a suitable replacement) the clerk, a lady my age, said 'oh tell me you didn't have to ride a bike in this weather'. Goody! The opening had presented itself.

'I don't have to ride, but I believe global warming is real, so I kinda feel I should.'

Here's the good part. Another clerk, a younger guy, said, "I believe it's real too. So do you stay warm when it's this cold out?" It was 20 degrees, 15mph winds steady from the west. I had ridden 9 miles at that point and was toasty warm. It turns out he had been thinking about riding his bike to work, but had never ridden in the cold. I assured him it could be done, that indeed it was being done all over the world and even in this town. I felt warmed by that exchange.

So on to church, where my study group's service project was to take place. Last Sunday there had been a gathering of folks who brainstormed about the future the church was to take, and one of the categories was the vision for the physical space we have. Of the 30 or so note cards posted up, about 10 of them were variations of the theme of parking. More parking, expanded parking, larger parking lot, etc.

I made the comment that expanding our parking lot to solve our transportation needs was as effective as buying larger pants to control our weight problem. Jim, from a town 30 miles away jumped on this statement and told me 'some of us aren't going to ride their bicycles from Glasgow to get here'. I responded that if the folks who lived within 3 miles of the church would ride thier bicycles, there would be no parking problem. Nancy, who lives within a mile of the church, jumped in and said 'there's no bike racks for people to store their bikes safely..." I countered with 'do you think that'll do the trick? that we put in bike racks and folks will start riding their bicycles? I believe that when you start seeing bikes tethered to trees, the handrail, the nature park sign (where I lock my bike)... then you'll see bike racks being built. I think we should ask people who live within 3 miles of the church to consider riding their bicycles or at least carpooling. Laying pavement is operating from an unsustainable paradigm.'

Cynthia, a lady in her late 50's, a physics teacher at a local high school said, 'you know, I could ride to church, but I want to wait for warmer weather. I haven't had a bicycle for several years now. I didn't drive a car until i got out of graduate school. I'd have to find a bike' then... 'Do you think you could help me find a bike?'

Not only will I help her find a bike, but i offered, and she accepted, to show up at her house and ride with her until she felt comfortable enough to ride by herself.

Last encounter, tonight at the mexican restaurant the waiter, Lolli, asked me if I was able to drive or if I had a car... yes to both, I said, but I drive very little. Are you scared of driving, she asked? No, not at all, but i believe global warming is real.

Well, it's good exercise, she said.