On Tuesday, I met some good friends for dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, the Granite. It is a pleasant pedal to the Granite, so I hopped on my bike. As soon as I arrived at the restaurant, I realized the great drawback to the Granite is the lack of a bike rack. I scrabbled through the bushes to chain my bike to a light pole. When I mentioned this shortcoming to the concierge, she told me that management refused to have a bike rack because they don't like clutter! Now, them's fighting words. I want to round up a bunch of cyclists and we could all clutter up the Granite with our bikes while drinking fine wine.
In Finland, bikes are not clutter. Instead, they are the prime means of transportation for many people. You stay healthy. You don't have to worry about parking. Your carbon footprint shrinks every time you leave the house. Bikes are safer in Finland. The bike paths are often separate from the roads and Finnish cyclists don't have to shrink away as giant pickup trucks go screaming past (try cycling on Little Pond Rd. if you live in Concord).
Despite the Granite and the narrow roads that bicycles share with cars, I am hopeful that the United States and Concord, New Hampshire are both becoming more bicycle friendly. The Secretary of the Department of Transportation is Ray LaHood, a former member of the Congressional Bike Caucus. He understands the importance of bicycles in the national transportation scheme.
Concord is planning some safer bike routes and one local organization, PATH, is facilitating bicycle commuting in the region.
In the meantime, my husband and I are planning our annual bike trip where we will spend lots of tourist bucks on bike friendly Cape Cod. And, next time I pedal to the Granite I will be playing Miss Gulch's soundtrack from speakers located in my wicker bike basket. (I'll get you my pretty!)