Cycling simply not practical for everyone
A rebuttal to Alex Haddad, East Glenora.
Nowhere did I refer to the bicycle as a toy. I maintain that it is for pleasure as I am part of the grey tsunami and am unwilling and/or able, to travel the lengths of our urban core, when that stretches from Walmart north, all along our highway ribbon development to Koksilah Market south, with our merchants a matter of a few blocks, to many blocks on either side of the Trans Canada Highway, then into the centre of the City of Duncan, thanks to feeder routes like Canada Avenue in addition to many others, which covers some of our east and west.
I do not know how you have the time and energy, on a daily basis, to ride to work — work all day or night — then ride to the grocery store to pick up the few items you can carry, if need be — use the local merchants, doctor, dentist, lawyer, pay bills and then ride home. How can you afford the time?
I cannot imagine doing my local errands by bicycle, when that entails taking family members to use local merchants, doctors, hospitals, dentists, eye specialists, buy groceries, when the youngest was a month short of being 80 years of age and an invalid, confined to a wheelchair, or one who was 82 with cancer or another who was 81 with a heart condition and MS, to another who is 81 with sleep apnea/CPAP, a pace maker, has had a stroke, and can barely walk through a room without falling, has lung issues and has been unable to shower, shave, dress himself since February 2012, has speech issues from the stroke and my last at 93, with heart issues and who is just slowing down. Walking has been an issue for all at one time or another, due to age, the co-ordination needed to ride a bicycle safely is not there. That’s even before we get into the weather!
FYI even on a bicycle you still have multiple stops and starts, you will still be stuck waiting in traffic, you will still be start and stop riding and held up at traffic lights; lots of luck finding all that secure bicycle parking, and keeping all your groceries secure and at correct temperature. I do try to do as much as I can per trip, for as many family members, as I can, for efficiency’s sake. Nor do I bicycle to the various homes of these relatives to make sure they woke up, have taken medications and/or insulin, have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in tummies and that are tucked into bed each night. I have walked lawnmowers to said homes, when I am unable to lift them into my vehicle, but I have to tell you, transporting by vehicle is easier. After having mowed lawns, dug weeds, watered, or housework chores, stripped beds, washed floors, vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms or shovelled snow as the seasons change, I do not have the time or energy to bicycle anywhere. Inevitably, I am already late for the next relative’s care needs. I count on this time saved by driving to complete my own chores inside and outside the home.
Having retired in 2011 after 37 years with my last employer, with about 50 employees, and maybe seven onsite parking stalls, two for management, five decided by draw, the rest parked free where you could find it, and paid if not. No bicycle stalls, though a couple did try securing bikes to metal rails, but sometimes parts were missing after an eight hour shift. Some had some nasty accidents on the way to work in winter. Not everyone had a locker and no showers. Amenities cost employers money, and effect employees’ wages.
Another item, I know of a bike repair and sales shop, whose owners, staff and customers will drive to this business and from there go on lovely rides together. Return, load the bikes on/into vehicles and drive home. Not ride to work, work all day, go on a pleasure ride, and then ride home.
Sadly I will not take your advice to “git on ya bike” — it’s not fun and practical for all and not in all circumstances. Enjoy it while it lasts, alas, one day you too will find out otherwise. We are an aging population. I hope you will not try to bicycle your family to the hospital wherever it is, nor they you — I’m afraid I see that, as not really caring for that family member, time is of an essence in an emergency. There are no environmental gains if you are dead.
I would be interested to have insight into how to transport seniors (70-plus), with wheelchairs and/or walker by bicycle, and collect groceries, plus sacks of birdseed (two to six) and manure (four to 12) for their gardens from Buckerfields, without out having to make dozens of trips. I doubt I could even balance one bag home. No, I won’t walk with one bag of bird seed (16k) or manure home, it’s just too awkward.
I recognize that I am extremely lucky, I got retired first, then family had health issues. There are so many out there who still have children at home, or return home after job loss or family breakdown, work full time, have elder care and some have a spouse who was injured in their 30s, who are permanently out of the work force, and others who have spouses in their mid 40s, diagnosed with cancer, who work when they can.
We are all using the tools we have, that work with us, our time, ability and energy. If a bicycle works, great. If it adds to the challenges, makes life more complicated, why would I subject myself to the added aggravation? Many people who drive do plan a route, to do as much as possible in one trip, for (time) efficiency and cost. I sincerely hope you continue to live a charmed life; I enjoy mine!
Karen A. Chaster