Since my car met its end a couple of weeks ago I’ve been riding my bike. It’s not a great bike — an old, heavy street bike with two functioning gears that I found ownerless behind Hands On — but I’m enjoying it inordinately. At the distances I typically go, there’s no need to drive; the bike is hardly much slower, uses no gas (in Mississippi, where the majority of vehicles on the road are pickups or SUVs, bringing down the average a little doesn’t hurt), and costs barely anything. Plus, there’s something that biking does to reconnect you to the city; rather than cruising by obliviously, you notice stores, houses, people, and other things. The best way to get to know a new place, by far, is to explore it on a bike.
Of course, there’s a lot of ways Mississippi makes it hard to ride a bike. The roads are pothole-ridden, the sidewalks are terrible and bike lanes are nearly non-existent. People here don’t know how to drive, particularly around bikes; to be fair, people here don’t know how to ride bikes properly either, and tend to swerve drunkenly across the road without regard to traffic. When the summer heat gets here, I’m sure I’ll be able to add another downside to the list. Still, I’m pretty content getting by with my bike for now. I even took my first non-car trip across the Ocean Springs bridge last week for Tertulia (Spanish group) at Sweet’s. It makes for a nice ride, and it’s great to see so many pedestrians and bicyclists using the bridge.
If you’re on the Gulf Coast and interested in biking, check out the Gulf Coast Bicycle Club — they seem very active. Or hit me up to go on some rides.