We came across this great letter from 1999, published in the Post & Courier and written by a tenacious woman named Mindy Spar. Read it and be inspired! (For the full text go to the P&C archives)
I want to ride my bicycle
BY Mindy Spar
The Post and Courier
Anyone who owns a car in this town knows that driving around here can be a headache. With all the one-way streets, pedestrians who don`t look where they are going, carriage drivers who don`t pull over when they are supposed to and tour buses that drive zero miles per hour, getting where you are going can be tough…..
I bought a bicycle about a year or so ago with intentions of riding it to work. Somehow, I kept finding excuse after excuse not to. First I didn`t want to ride home in the dark. Then when it stayed light later, I decided it was too hot. Then I couldn`t figure out a comfortable way to ride in a dress. Then I realized I had way too much stuff to schlep around and I couldn`t possibly carry it all on a bike. Then I kept hearing story after story of people`s bikes being stolen, and I figured my bike would be much safer if I didn`t use it.
After the bus incident, I decided to get real and put all of the excuses away. I spent the weekend gearing up: I bought a basket to carry my stuff in, bought a super-duper lock to protect my bike, I found some bicycle shorts to wear under my dress, and I decided to pull my hair back in a ponytail and to not be afraid of a little sweat.
D-day (or should I say B-day, as in bike day) dawned on Monday. I woke up early in anticipation. Every few minutes I checked the sky, but, alas, there were no rain clouds in sight. I pulled on my shorts, tied back my hair, secured my belongings in my basket, and off I went.
It was exhilarating. Even with the heat there was a bit of a breeze, and it felt great to be in the open air.
Usually, I drove the same route to work every morning, so I decided to weave through the back streets on my bike. I noticed new details on houses I`d seen a thousand times; the interesting way a porch curved on one house, the leaded glass windows on another, the latticed gate to a garden at yet another. I marveled at the amount of restoration and renovation that is being done in the downtown neighborhoods.
Before I knew it, I was at my destination. I was amazed that it took the same amount of time as driving had. And I felt great, albeit very sweaty. I was clearheaded and empowered to tackle the day.
Now, I ride to work every day. Instead of wishing for storm clouds, I dread them. (One day I had to drive to work and I appreciated my bicycle all the more; by the time I negotiated the traffic and bad drivers, I was a stress case before my work day had even begun.)
I vary my route and try to discover new things daily. I also watch the progress of the renovations and am excited by the new vitality in some of our older neighborhoods.
If I had only known what a great way this was to start the day, I would have thrown off those tired excuses ages ago. Granted, my sitbone and my legs were a little sore for a while, and my co-workers have had to deal with my outdoorsy odor, but those little inconveniences pale in comparison to the overall benefits.
Those benefits are endless; a chance to get some exercise, discover new things, clear the mind and body of stress, and do a little bit for the environment.
But the biggest benefit of all is, I feel as if I`ve given myself a gift. A gift of permission to take a few minutes every day to do something beneficial for myself. This is something in this hectic, rush-rush world we too often forget to do. Try it and see what a difference it makes.
Ok so this post isn’t exactly about Cycle Chic in the ‘chic’ sense, but it IS about something near and dear to my heart (and the underlying motivation of Charleston Cycle Chic) – making a city more bike-friendly. This past weekend, the NY Times wrote an excellent article on how Boston, long known as a ‘cyclists’ minefield’, is turning itself around and implementing measures to become more bike-friendly. Now Boston was established much the same time Charleston was. It has historic buildings, narrow streets and is surrounded by water and bridges. It also has a history of moving a bit slowly to get things done. But not anymore. In fact, Bicycling Magazine recently cited it on it’s Five for the Future list.
What does it take to make a city bike-friendly? As I experienced so clearly on my recent trip to Boulder, CO – it’s about creating bike lanes that go from Important Point A to Important Point B. It’s about having bike racks everywhere (here’s a link to ours). It’s about businesses encouraging bike parking (like Charleston’s Downtown TacoBoy!), and educating drivers about what it means to share the roads.
But it’s also about having leadership that loves to ride. Boston’s Mayor Menino recently discovered the biking lifestyle and realized just how important it is to a city’s sustainability and enjoyment and so quickly got to work. He even started Hub on Wheels, a Citywide Ride and Festival.
So I get it. As much grassroots moving as we can do, it still has to come from the top. So Mayor Riley – here’s what I propose to you. Come ride with me around our beautiful city. If you don’t have a bicycle, I’ll buy one for you. That’s my commitment to you, to this city, and to this lifestyle. Try it! It just might change your life.
I just found this article on Treehugger.com talkin’ about all ya’ll Charleston Cycle Chic aficionados with a photo of our lovely Cara Kelly riding down the Battery. What do you say CCC ladies (and gents)? Are we going to live up to their vision of us? Our gorgeous fall is just around the corner and we can no longer use the excuse of ‘perspiration’. Let’s ride into the sunset, shall we??
By the way, if you haven’t seen Treehugger.com before, they have a superb collection of posts on all things ‘green’ and progressive – from Design and Architecture to Food and Fashion and everything in between. Check them out!
“Charleston Cycle Chic is making biking to work all the rage. Bonnie wrote about Cycle Chic in London last year and while it took a little longer to catch on here in South Carolina, the movement is gaining a foothold. In South Carolina and even in a more forward thinking Charleston, all too often you’ll see people hop in their cars to drive two feet and then have trouble finding a parking space which leads to them continually driving around the block…more
As I go about my daily business, biking, walking or just cafe-sitting, I always have my trusty IPhone camera ready to whip out a moment’s notice because you never know when a beautiful woman on a great bike is going to roll by. Here are a few recent examples of Charleston Cycle Chic in action. Note the bikes, note the outfits, note the lifestyle and the happy glow of a woman who knows she’s having fun.
What’s better than lovely ladies riding bikes through Charleston? Video posted! Thanks to my friends Dustin Ryan for the great footage and Jim Wallace on the Bike Taxi.
or on Vimeo
CharlestonMoves is a great non-profit organization in Charleston, SC promoting bicycling, walking, running and public transportation for a healthy community and healthy lifestyle. They are advocates for Charleston becoming a bike-friendly community and are responsible for giving us our fantastic Bike/Walk path over the Ravenel Bridge.
Read this story of action on “Wonders Way“
CharlestonMoves is constantly working on other projects such as the completion of the West Ashley Greenway, the expansion of the Ben Sawyer Bridge and promoting bike/walk lanes on the new Coleman Blvd.
So let your voice be heard and check out CharlestonMoves volunteer and membership information.