Jason Nov 18, 2015
Ray Bradbury, a beloved American writer, wrote a delightful short story entitled The Other Highway. It tells of a Sunday drive in which a family spontaneously departs from a frantic, chaotic, high-speed freeway to follow an old, abandoned highway the father remembers from his youth. It is a study in contrasts, from loud and aggressive vehicles to a serene and secluded exploration through the woods. Forced to drive slowly on the crumbling road, the family is captivated by sunlight glittering in the trees, butterflies dancing in the air and water skippers flashing past in the puddles.
As I've transitioned from a predominately car oriented lifestyle to active transportation, I've noticed a significant shift in how I perceive the city and world around me. Instead of focusing on traffic congestion, speed limits and haste, I find myself engaged with my community in a markedly deeper way.
Some mornings I'm awed by a beautiful sunrise cresting the hills or fascinated by tendrils of fog in motion around me. Other days it's the excitingly unexpected: an animal bone falling from the sky next to me (!?!) or avoiding a flock of turkeys. Occasionally it's the simple thrill of pushing myself further and faster than I could before.
I've also dramatically increased my knowledge of the city in which I live. I've explored areas I've never before seen and found fascinating nooks and crannies I've never known. I've exchanged friendly greetings and had conversations with other cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. I know minutae of road grades, potholes, stormwater grates and prevailing wind patterns.
Sadly, at the end of Ray Bradbury's story, the family returned to the freeway to speed homeward, choosing to forget what they found without recognizing what they lost.
I'm still on that old highway and can't wait to see what's around the next bend.