A Newcomer in Milwaukee
Ever since moving to Milwaukee, I don’t have a car. This isn’t new for me. I haven’t had a car since before Valerie and I’s cross-country bicycle trip in 2011, when I gave my parents back their full size van, the Starship Enterprise. I don’t think they got very much money for it, but I was glad to get rid of it and become car-free.
I didn’t need a car when I lived in Guatemala, when I worked for Youthworks, or when I was trucking away at getting a piece of paper labeled “BA in Global Studies”, which I still haven’t seen.
I moved to Milwaukee the first day of June, just over a month ago. I still don’t have a car, so things have been interesting. I bicycle everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Seriously. I love that Milwaukee is a small enough city that biking everywhere is actually feasible.
Things look differently on a bicycle. The people seem nicer, and more friendly. At least the ones that aren’t in cars. Just Sunday I was riding back from downtown from Vulture Space, a sort of bicycle cooperative on Plankinton in downtown MKE. I was riding one bike and holding the other with one hand, ghosting it next to me. I stopped at a stop sign at an intersection with a bar and lots of rainbows, and one guy says, “It looks like you lost someone! Come on in!” Friendly people here.
On a bicycle I have a bell that I ding, where I can wave to people if I recognize them. Or if they’re in my way on the bicycle path. Ha.
I go slow, on bike. My goal is to make people bicycle friendly, so I try not to come off as a jerk. I don’t wear spandex. If anything, I try to dress nice. Normal. Jeans and a t-shirt, or something like that. Someday I hope to get a cargo bike, something that can fit lots of stuff.
I’ve just upgraded my bike from a Schwinn Varsity to a Fuji Absolute. Reddit’s bicycle feed is filled with these people who want to show off their new bicycles. It’s called “NEW BIKE DAY.” Adults, it turns out, are like kids. Excited about their new toys. I’ve got a little bit of thicker wheels on it, and it fits me much better. Plus, it is lighterweight so I go significantly faster.
Every time I ride, I see something interesting. People ask me directions when I am downtown, and I pretend like I’m from MKE and tell them where they need to go. Most of the time they are searching for the Third Ward, which could definitely use more bicycle racks. And bike lanes, since I don’t think there are any there. Taking the lane is a good precaution, but pretty annoying for both parties.
On a bicycle, the neighborhood seems different. Better. Slower. Less alienated. We biked to Summerfest to see Switchfoot, where Jon Foreman read some of my favorite lines from the song “Gone”
“We got information in the information age
But do we know what life is outside of our convenient lexus cages?”
Their performance, I have to say, was better than Cake. Thanks for reading.
*EDIT* I changed the timestamp from July 29th to July 10th, when I wrote the blog post. *EDIT*