Thursday, at six-and-a-half weeks post-op, I rode my bike for the first time since the surgery. I’d been itching to get back to biking and probably would have taken a little spin around the block a couple of weeks ago, but between finding the time and finding the energy, it just didn’t happen.
Those weeks of limited mobility gave me time to think about the limits of active transportation. Sure, I’d always been fully aware that there is a certain segment of the population that physically cannot walk or bike for transportation, but actually being in that segment, albeit for a short time, was a different story.
In the first weeks, even walking a block was difficult. Unless you live somewhere very dense, with great public transportation (which is hard to have in cities that are not dense), you won’t get far if you can’t walk more than a block. Since St. Louis is not very dense, my only option, if I wanted or needed to leave the apartment, was a car.
As someone for whom the car is the least preferred transportation method, I quickly grew frustrated. This frustration came to a head a couple of weeks ago, when I needed to visit the AT&T store to replace my poor dead phone. Matthew and the car were out at our commuter garden. There was such a store less than two miles away, near my dentist’s office, a library branch, and a grocery store, destinations to which I almost always bike, and heck, would not even be out of the question for walking. However, with my activity limitations, and without a car, that two miles may as well have been two hundred.
The thing is, for all the people out there, for whom, either permanently or temporarily, active transportation is really not an option, there are hundreds more who choose, either passively or actively, to snub their active transportation options and all the benefits and freedom it would offer.
I still need to make some purchases to make these modes of transportation possible with baby in tow. For now, I will be working to build my strength and endurance, gradually increasing the range I can travel on two feet and two wheels.
I can relate. When I blew out my knee a few years back I could barely walk down the hall let alone down the block! Health and mobility are gifts we should never take for granted.
I spent a year in England with neither car nor bike, in a town with pretty poor public transportation. It was difficult on a number of levels — the grocery store was a half hour walk away, uphill coming back — and I just felt so isolated and stuck in my town; it took so much effort to escape that I rarely did. I really appreciated having a car again, yet now that I’m contemplating getting rid of the car for good, I feel a bit apprehensive.