Thursday, October 7, 2010

Councilor Tesler Bikes to Work and Loves it

In the latest SESNA newsletter (p.4), Salem City Councilor Laura Tesler talks about starting to commute by bike, the personal benefits of calm and fitness, and the social benefits of neighborliness.
I got serious about reducing my personal natural resource impact and started riding my bike to work every day (and everywhere else practically). It started when I went to SESNA’s Earth Day celebration in the community garden and tied a pledge ribbon to a tree.

Not wanting to risk having bad karma, I bought a “commuter” bike and started riding. At first, 12 miles a day seemed a challenge but now it is a daily event. After the initial sore rump and rubbery legs, I actually like the 25 minute ride one way. Luckily, I have a shower at work so when I get to work I can shower and then I am bright of eye and sharp of tooth, ready for the day’s challenges. Riding is very calming to me and I almost approach a Zen-like state by the time I get where I am going—whether it is work, home—or the City Council.

Riding a bike through a neighborhood provides a different view. For one thing, you go slower so you can see the potted geraniums on porches. You see the small touches people are putting on their homes. You also realize that neighborhoods that once people said were “undesirable” are neat, tidy, and well taken care of.

You know who has kids as their toys are all scattered in the driveway. You see community gardens overflowing and homemade snap pea trellises. You see who has neighborhood watch stickers on their windows and who is having a garage sale.

Sometimes you see the one house that is not cared for. It seems so out of place next to everyone else’s house. With just a little effort, like mowing the lawn, picking up junk, or some paint, the property can be “spruced up” and not be such an outlier. Of course, in some cases, this is easier said than done.

I like to see people out walking. I like the “mom and pop” store open and people sitting outside eating and socializing. I once rode by a neighbor carrying a covered dish of food up a walkway to another neighbor’s house. I rode by a group of neighbors talking in front of their houses and on another occasion, one neighbor helping another fix a car problem. I see people out weeding, planting, painting and having a backyard BBQ. It’s everything that makes a neighborhood a community.

Take some time … take a walk or ride a bike through our neighborhood. Admire the flowers. Smell the neighbor’s roses. Ask the people across the street how their day was. Openly admire someone’s beautiful new windows or paint job. These simple things are what binds us together as a community and makes us better as a whole.
Thanks for sharing, Councilor Tesler! Ride on!

No comments: