Spontaneous Interactions

Perhaps one of my favorite things about bicycling is the possibility for spontaneous interactions. You know, like when you’re biking to the store and you see a friend walking their dog, you both stop and chat for awhile, having a meaningful dialog. That wouldn’t happen if you were both in a car, you’d possibly see each other and wave, but there would be no interaction. Or meeting someone at the bike rack, you’re both locking or unlocking your bikes and you chat for a bit.  Maybe it’s small talk or maybe it’s deeper than that.  Either way, I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I’ve had a conversation with the car driver parked next to me. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this, I’d love to hear your story about an amazing spontaneous interaction you’ve had while on your bike.

I will leave you with one I think my daughter planned. On a Saturday morning my almost 9 year old daughter and I were going to go to the grocery store. She asked if we were going to take the car or the bikes and I told her the car.

“No, let’s take the bikes,” she says.

“Okay,” I reply, happy to oblige and happy that she wanted to bike, even if I was hungry.

As we head down our hill and get ready to cross over the bike/ped bridge that takes us into the neighboring streets she says, “I wonder if Suzzy will be outside, we can say hi to her if she is”.

Suzzy (not her real name), is a good friend of my daughter and her parents are good friends of mine. We often walk or bike to and from school together or to the farmers market. They live a few blocks away near a trail and if we bike or walk anywhere we go past their house. If we drive the car, we take another route. It just so happens that Suzzy was outside that morning, we talked for awhile and tentatively set up an afternoon play date.

I couldn’t help thinking that maybe, just maybe, Izabelle wanted to bike because she knew there was a good likelihood her friend would be outside and that we’d stop and chat. She knew there was a possibility for a spontaneous interaction that couldn’t take place if we drove. I didn’t ask her if that was what she was thinking, because she probably wouldn’t admit it even if it were true. Even if that wasn’t her intention and she just wanted to bike because she loves biking, then great! If she did plan it, I couldn’t be happier. It means that she has learned one of the best things about bicycling: spontaneous interactions.

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