“When we bring the buffalo back, we’ll bring the people back because we’ll re-learn how to structure our lives.” –Jim Stone, Yankton-Sioux Tribe, Return of the Bison
The bison is America’s new national symbol, sharing the stage with the bald eagle. This is a great story. It’s the story of conservation as a guiding principle of our nation. It’s the story of a nation embracing the character of a place and relearning our native culture and inheritance.
I would love to see the bicycle adopted as our national vehicle. Like the bison, the bike is a way to structure our lives. Bicycles have been with us, but it is taking time for us to appreciate them and give them the large scale transportation networks they need to reach their fullest potential.
For the last seven weeks I was “bikeless” while I healed from an injury. I drove a car more than usual, and found myself feeling disconnected, separated from my surroundings. I felt anxious. You would think separation from aspects of life in the city would increase comfort, but it fed my fear. I was startled by beginning my day hurtling down the highway at 70mph amongst 80,000 pound trucks and 6,000 pound SUV’s. I didn’t feel safer, rather I felt more afraid.
I started riding my bicycle outside again this week. I feel so much better. Cycling transforms road anonymity into neighborly relations. I’m moving at safer speeds, and the mass of my vehicle doesn’t constitute a danger to myself or others. I’m nimble and freer. Cycling helps me feel a part of my surroundings and that I’m making a more humane transport environment. Cycling restores my connection with the beauty in Albuquerque. It makes good sense to me.
Credits–the first photo is from an article in The Guardian called Return of the bison: new American national symbol tells story of strife and credited to Josh Barchers/AP
The other photos are from my first rides this week.