Several months ago, after taking a good long hard look at my budget and realizing that I was spending as much on my car as I was on rent. $600 a month on a car I didn’t even like that much. But I felt like I didn’t have much of a choice, I had always lived in areas where not having a car would be a death sentance for my career and my social life. But I had moved to the Portland, Oregon area for a job last fall, and had considerably more options.
Besides, I was falling further and further behind each month and needed to find a way to give myself some breathing room. So when they came for the car I surrendered it without a fight. Portland has an excellent public transit system, my apartment is well placed to access several bus lines and reasonably close to the light rail system, and I have several stores within walking distance. After a few weeks, I became comfortable getting around town on transit.
I still have family and friends who live in more rural areas, so I knew I’d need a car every once in a while. Plus I knew I’d need to run errands occasionally that would be much easier with a car. So I got a membership to Zipcar. I’ll talk more about them another day.
A couple of weeks ago, I invested in a bicycle. I wanted to be able to quickly run to the grocery store and purchase more than just an item or two at a time. It’s a cute yellow bicycle that I picked up new at Target for about $130 on sale. I suppose technically I’m too heavy for it… the tires say load limit 220 lbs and I’m…definitely heavier than that. Other than the tires getting a little low on air sort of quickly, the bike doesn’t seem to show any other strain from carrying me. Perhaps I’ll look into tires with a higher load limit. But that’s beside the point.
I put a cute white basket on the front, with a cool quick release mechanism that makes it easy to take the basket with me into the store. My family chuckled a little bit at the idea of me on a bicycle. Grandma worries of course, but that’s what she does. I just laughed and told her that I’m a fat chick on a big yellow bicycle… if someone can’t see me on that, we’ve got bigger problems. She chuckled at that, which was the whole idea.
So the other day as my boyfriend and I were running around to various stores after pizza supplies, we took bicycles to make the trips easier. It had been more than 5 years since I had been on a bicycle when I got this one. I’m still a little shaky, and I’m not confident enough to ride in the bicycle lane on the busy streets in my neighborhood just yet. So I ride on the sidewalks most of the time, but I’m always conscious of pedestrians and give them the right of way on the sidewalk.
As we left the fancy natural grocery store, a woman actually called out to me as we left exclaiming that it was the cutest bicycle she’d ever seen. I had a quick exchange with her about the bike and that was that. I had expected to catch a lot of crap riding my bike around the neighborhood. I’m fairly used to having random insults yelled at my by random passing cars (it’s pretty common as a fat person to have any random stranger yell things at you no matter what you’re doing) but so far I’ve had pretty good experiences. I’ve had quite a few more experiences like the one with the lady at the grocery store. People commenting on how cute the bicycle it’s self is. And my boyfriend and A exclaiming how cute I am on it. It helps that it’s a very retro styled bicycle, so a lot of people share their fond memories of similar bicycles they had as kids. I have yet to try it out on a longer trip, though that may be coming up very soon. For right now, getting around to some of the destinations in my neighborhood more quickly is awesome enough for me.