Am I nuts? I don’t think I am. When I started to share my idea about trading my car for a bike for one year (sometimes with two boys in tow) nearly every friend reacted with a scowl and this sentiment: “Why? You are crazy. You won’t make it. But I’ll be sure to read what you write.” Translation: they can’t wait to see me fail. And they think I should call myself @CrazyBikeLady on Twitter. Thanks, but I’ll stick with @Angela_Keegan. I am a girl who loves a challenge. And I especially love it when people tell me I can’t do something.
Now, I want to be clear about the ground rules I’ve set for myself. I’m not giving up my car cold turkey. There are some life factors that won’t allow me to go car free… yet. For instance, daycare closes at 6 and I work in a business that never sleeps. I may have to hop a bus to get there on time. Also, I won’t bring a sick child to the doctor in the dead of winter on a bike. See? I’m not totally crazy. When I can’t use my bike I’ll take the bus. My cute, little red VW bug will be a last resort. I’ll have a small bank of miles I can use in emergencies; 365 miles for the whole year. That’s it.
Now to the question all my ill-supportive friends ask, “Why?” It’s really part of a larger effort to live a simpler and smaller, yet fuller life. The light bulb went off one horrible, snowy evening in February on the umpteenth night I spent two hours in the car with my children commuting up I-94 to our home in Maple Grove. I tossed apples and Nutrigrain bars into the back seat to fend off the toddler meltdowns. When we got home the boys went straight to bed, all so that I could wake them at 6am to begin the vicious cycle for another day. The time I once spent exercising and playing with my children was traded for hours sitting on my growing butt in the car. My 4-year-old with a speech problem didn’t have to ask, “How much longer ‘til weew in the Naple Grobe?!” Instead, he memorized the water towers. “Two mow ‘til the Minnetonka,” he’d yell. This was no life. So I changed it. I moved to Minneapolis in June. My 45-mile commute is now 11 miles round-trip. Now there’s no excuse not to try to live out my dream of seeing what life would be like if I slowed down a little and enjoyed the ride. And what better way to give it a go than on a bike?
So the journey begins. I’ll keep you posted on the daily tricks and triumphs of life on two wheels. I’ll also share stories I discover about the cycling culture in the Twin Cities. And along the way I’ll try to change the minds of the nay-sayers who can’t understand why I would do this. I say, why not?
Angela Keegan Benson is the Assistant News Director at WCCO-TV and a mother of two. On August 1, 2011 she began her quest to live one full year as a bike commuter. Follow along as she figures out how to mesh the cycling culture with the demands of parenthood and an affinity for 4-inch heels. And yes, she’s committed to sticking it out through February storms. For more Cycling In The Cities, follow @Angela_Keegan on Twitter.