How Did I Get Here?

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here?

Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

Do you ever wonder what life would be like if you had been born in another time or place? It’s not really a productive exercise I suppose, but it does make me think that even though I perceive that I’ve worked to be in a certain place in my life, chance has played a big role.

As luck would have it, I was born to parents who encouraged me to be active.

I grew up during a time when learning to ride a bicycle as a child was a rite of passage. My parents were willing and able to buy me a bike. Not a brand new sparkly one, but it did the job. Again, happenstance.

Me on the Romulus

My arrival in Washington, D.C., a place easily navigable by bike and where physical activity is happening all over the place, was mostly the result of a blind stumble during a time when I was flailing about for a different pond in which to swim.

I started bike commuting in 2004, and since that time society’s interest in alternative transport has been growing and growing.

D.C. now has Capital Bikeshare. It has been a huge success and is helping normalize cycling as a form of transport. Encountering other cyclists on the city streets is a regular occurrence. More people are moving into the city, choosing to go car-lite or car-free.

Groups like WABA are working hard to increase bike lanes and improve conditions for cycling so that even more people will ride.

When I first began riding, I don’t recall anyone being too concerned about the cycling disparity between men and women. New groups have formed to build the community of women riders. Gradually we are seeing results.

How did I get here? How am I part of it all?

Maybe I tried to plan some of it, but much of it falls under the umbrella of luck.

Sometimes I idly wonder what life in D.C. will be like 100 years from now. Heck, even 20 years from now.

Will bicycling be a regular form of transportation for people in the area? Will the numbers of men and women riding be more equalized?

Rather than being subject to the unfortunate “Get off the road!” heckling when riding in the District, will cyclists at last be fully integrated into the city’s landscape? Will there ever be a time when the car is not king? I’d love to see that.

I pump up my tires for tomorrow’s ride and hope.


  1. I’d love to see the price of gas go up to the point where driving large pick-up trucks would be prohibitively expensive – especially out here in the west!


  2. I think you caught a wave. I just returned from Indianapolis where the bicycling infrastructure seems to be growing quickly. Not a lot of cyclists though. Or should I say yet. It helps that it is flat as a pancake there. They are a few years behind DC but catching up fast. (They are also putting in an electric carshare system.) It’s a different world. And a better one.


  3. This week in DC is the perfect sweet spot of riding — Congress still out of town (less traffic), many kids back in school (fewer tourist/school trips), and yesterday, at least, the weather was perfect.

    Tomorrow (50th anniversary of MLK speech) will be a driving nightmare. It will be interesting to see how cyclists fare. Many streets will be closed to cars AND pedestrians. Wonder where that leaves you?


  4. I often ponder the same things. I’m only just getting back into cycle commuting after a fairly long absence. And I’ve noticed that my home city, Brisbane in Australia, has much improved cycleways and facilities too. Who knows what this city will look like in 20 years … Hopefully the “get off the road” louts will lose momentum though


  5. I have brief, intensely ecstatic visions of Amsterdam-scale bike paths and signals in DC. What a paradise it would be, and think of the improvement in traffic for all! A girl can dream …


  6. I live car free in NE DC and have never gotten any flack from any motorist on my daily bicycle commute. When you write DC, you must mean Northern VA, home of the rudest, me-first louts on the planet.


    1. Ha! Well, I confess I have not been looking that carefully at the plates, but the experiences I’m talking about have happened over time in various quadrants in the city. Fortunately, they don’t happen that often.


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