Cars and the Holidays: Bah, Humbug!

The Holiday season is upon us, and with it one of my least favorite December traditions: harried drivers circling around shopping mall parking lots and downtown streets, looking for a place to park.
The Holidays bring with them great joy, but undeniably bring stress as well–what with shopping, entertaining, and meeting other peoples’ expectations. But add to that the inevitable road and parking congestion that accompanies it all, and it’s enough to drive some people over the edge.  This was brought home to me several years ago on Christmas eve, when a young man with whom I’d crossed vehicular paths in the supermarket parking lot jumped out of his beater Mercedes sedan and began banging his fist on my driver’s-side window while screaming obscenities. Merry Christmas to all, indeed.
Is there another way?  Yes. While eliminating the stress of the Holidays is a tall order, there are ways to decrease it, and feel better about yourself and the rest of humanity. Step one: ride your bike.  Bundle up and set aside some time to enjoy the outdoors on two wheels when the weather permits.  Savor those endorphins.
While you’re at it, why not run some Holiday errands by bike?  I tried it at a local mall on a recent Saturday. And while negotiating 100 acres of asphalt on my vintage Trek was a little daunting, I have to admit to having felt a little smug as I left to take the back roads home, looking out at the slow-and-go traffic on I-5.
Finally, make a New Year’s resolution to be an active bicycle advocate. Then maybe we can give each other the best gift of all—future Holiday seasons where travel by car is a choice, not a necessity.  The Dutch and the Danes have figured out how to do it. We can, too.
If you need some inspiration, take a look at this video from European blogger David Hembrow and see how Dutch kids and their parents greet St. Nick.
 (Cargo bike photos by Mikael Colville-Andersen.)
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