In an effort to instill some zen minimalist principles into my life, I recently sold my car. My first car - the only car I've ever owned. Ahhh the Silver Fox. My parents bought me the lightly used Chevrolet Cavalier Coupe for my 17th birthday - they paid the down payment, but I was expected to make payments, and it was a proud moment when I paid it off my senior year of college.
Over the past year, the car became more stressful than helpful, though. Drowning in insurance payments, parking tickets, and maintenance work as the car aged, it was time to get rid of the old girl. She went to a good home of a new college girl in Staten Island - I felt like Andy donating his toys in Toy Story 3!
Sans car, it's been back to the drawing board. I'm lucky to live in NYC, a city where it's easy to rely on mass transit. Granted, it may take twice as long to get somewhere by subway as it would driving...but there's always traffic and parking issues anyway. My use for the car had more to do with weekend drives to the beach and visits home to Pittsburgh...I'll live.
My minimalist move of selling the car made me want to buy something else, though - a bicycle! The number of bikes on the road grows exponentially in New York as the temperature rises. As spring approached, cyclists were everywhere and I so badly wanted to be one. One small problem - I'm semi-petrified of riding a bike in the city. I've seen delivery boys get "doored" and flatlined on the road and I've known friends that flipped over their handlebars on potholes.
How's a girl like me supposed to survive? The last time I seriously rode my bike was on the Moraine State Park trails and through my surburban neighborhood in middle school. It's silly, but as the years have gone by, I've gotten more and more nervous to ride again, especially in my new urban surroundings. But, I'm willing to learn and I WILL learn this year. I checked out a bike shop near my apartment, googled my options...and ended up buying a $40 no-name beater mountain bike. It's metallic pink and the seat is a bit ripped up. Just my style (ha). It absolutely doesn't fit in my apartment, but I'm making it work.
Despite its faults, this bike is going to train me to ride again...it's my starter bike. I'm going to outfit it with a sturdy quick release basket up front for my stud muffin puppy dog Marlon and start by taking quick trips to Astoria Park and back. I hope to eventually work up the courage to bike through Manhattan or perhaps out to the beach, saving myself from an annoying LIRR commute. And if I end up really liking it, I'll save up for a nice commuter bike next year.
For anyone else out there interested - but apprehensive - of getting a bike and learning to ride in the city, I just found a really cool organization, Bike New York. They have *FREE* classes to help people adjust to bike commuting, learn to ride (for kids and adults), and understand traffic laws and your rights as a cyclist. Plus they host fun riding programs and events. I'm so amped for warm weather and excited to not feel pathetic hopping on a bike anymore!
I'll keep you posted on my progress!