02 September 2010

A Full Bike Rack!

Today I cycled to my regular job and my "moonlighting" gig.  As is so often the case, my Le Tour was the only bike parked at my regular college.  On the other hand, when I arrived at my other school, I couldn't find a spot for my bike. 

The college has one designated area for bicycle parking.  It's about twenty feet directly in front of the guard station where most students, faculty and staff come in if they are driving or walking.  In it are those long racks that look like waves of steel.  One can lock a bike to the outside part of the "wave"--or inside, if the bike is small enough or can be folded or maneuvered.

Well, it seemed that every inch of space on those racks had been used!  Except for the inside one of the inverted "U"s that are part of those waves, that is. So, I took my tote bag out of my rear basket, which I folded.  Then I tilted the bike as close to paralell with the ground as I could and managed to nudge the bike inside.  Then I locked the frame's rear triangle to the rack.

My momentary annoyance at trying to find a parking spot turned to gratification that so many people rode bikes on such a hot day. (The temp got up to 97 F.)  Some of the bikes looked like they came from department stores or the worst eBay sites.  But others were well-worn  ten- and three-speeds from the 1970's or thereabouts:  a Ross Eurosport, a couple of Schwinns, a Motobecane Mirage with its original Simplex derailleur (That would date the bike at 1974 or earlier; Motobecanes started to come euipped with Sun Tour derailleurs the following year.)   Those bikes made me a little sentimental, for they were new when I was young and first becoming serious about cycling.

I wish only that I had my camera with me.  Not only could I have shown those overflowing bike racks; I could also have been vain and posted more images of myself.  I rode in a skirt and heels and received a lot of compliments on the way I looked.  The skirt was a paisley print in shades of tropical-seas-blues, white and black.  With it, I wore a tank top and short cardigan in one of the shades of blue and a pair of black sling-back peep-toe shoes with three-inch heels.

Because there were so many bikes, I'd bet that I wasn't the only well-dressed cyclist who came to the college today. 

I am still thinking, not only about the fact that I saw so many bikes at my new gig, but that I see so few--often, none--at my regular job.  I think that the discrepancy has much to do with the fact that my second job has a much more diverse student body:  Some come from the poorer areas of the city, but many come from middle-class and even affluent areas of Queens.  As Velouria and others have said, the poorer immigrants-- who  comprise much of the student population at my main job--often equate cycling for transportation with poverty and lower social status:  exactly what they hoped to escape by leaving the places of their birth.  And, in those places, there it seems that riding for sport is all but non-existent.

I'll be very interested to see whether I'll continue to encounter full bike racks at my new gig.


  1. Perhaps there's something to your theory. It may also be that the powers that be subtly, and possibly unintentionally, encourage cycling at one gig and discourage it at the other.

  2. Steve: You're right on both counts. At my regular gig, they actually discourage cycling, perhaps unintentionally. The bike racks are difficult to use and placed in areas that aren't readily accessible--at night, one of the locations can be just plain scary, if not dangerous.

    Plus, it's the kind of place that foster the attitude that sports (or things that could be sports) are to be left to the athletes, so as not to detract from their glory. The funny thing is that, at least in athletics, it's a lower Division III school: nobody gets scholarships, and no one has ever become a professional athlete after attending that college. Yet, judging from the attitude, you'd think it was a miniature version of USC or Notre Dame.

    I don't know whether or not my part-time gig encourages cycling. But they don't seem to be discouraging it.