Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roll Model: Niklas Vollmer

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gorilla photo by guest blogger Niklas Vollmer
I recently lashed this beast to my bike handlebars to recognize nine months of being without a car. I once chose to bike across the country alone and it was an incredible experience (my sister and dad made the transcontinental trek a few years later) -- yet, it was immediately humbling to find myself carless with a child (11-year old T--lad) in this economy, and I hadn’t done much Atlanta city cycling. So far, I have chosen urban cycling over accumulating more debt after my car died prematurely. I am thrilled to tear up auto insurance offers that come by mail, peddle by gas stations and car repair shops, park for free, avoid sitting in traffic, and smile and nod at other cyclists along the way. When I was a kid, my favorite things were my bikes. I rode a yellow 10-speed I purchased with my paper route earnings everywhere. Cycling again reminds me what it was like as a kid peddling and babbling along next to your buddies (side by side biking is legal in most scenarios); I also learned that cars are not very social environments –– and covet the people I meet and the additional conversations with T –– lad as we explore the city. It can be slow-going and less convenient to bike, walk, or cobble together public transportation routes (three buses to a soccer game) –– yet, T--lad and I are a team, trying to figure it out together. We still grumble sometimes, are a bit more regional, and cannot do it all; these constraints make us more intentional and resourceful –– and physically active and fit. I thank fab T--lad for being game, and also appreciate the occasional loaner car or ride offer from friends (biking to the drive-in is no fun). A number of folks keep asking when I'm going to buy a car –– and, as a university professor with an inverted salary, I don't have an answer as carlessness saves me hundreds of dollars a month and I am not sure I can afford a car for a number of other reasons. I also feel good about lessening city congestion and environmental impact –– and have recently added a nifty bike trailer to port heavier loads. As urban crowd–sourced auto sharing groups arise, who knows. Craigslist is full of bike deals and there are terrific bike sales right now. If you haven’t done so already, go getcher self one. As cycling grows in Atlanta, support your local bike advocacy groups to boot!

Niklas Vollmer

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