Monday, March 9, 2020

Riding Key West

From time to time I post pictures of people cycling around my home town and the reason I do is because I like seeing bicycles in an urban setting being used as daily riders, as useful vehicles rather than status symbols or public exercise machines.
It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with those other uses for bikes but Key West is a rare community, not unique but in a decided minority where people use bicycles to get around, and they don't seem to much care what kind of bike.
There are those who ride internal combustion but I see a future of electrical propulsion replacing scooters.  The human species never fails to confuse me and I'll use motor scooters as an example of why that is. I have read endless complaints by city residents in the newspaper's anonymous gripe column haranguing scooter riders for being loud and noisy and smelly and wrecking the peace and quiet of Old Town.
And they are all over the place. Yet now we have a revolution of silent efficient clean non polluting electric bikes replacing scooters and cars and still the complaints keep flooding in! Now it turns out electric vehicles are too silent and stealth and confusing and dangerous and on and on and on.
And to overlay all those complaints parking issues are still a hot button issue and I can't tell you how many parking complaints we get in police dispatch. twenty four hours a day people are calling in vehicles parked for more than 72 hours which by city code are abandoned and liable to being towed. Then the other perennial complaint is that of  vehicles parking in residential spots, very clearly marked these days, by vehicles not equipped with stickers.
I really like the new residential program where you have to show proof of actual residence (part time if fine) and pay for a sticker. people like me who work in the city but live in the county are excluded though scooters and golf carts can park in residential spots. Why a scooter rider wouldn't use free scooter parking everywhere I don't know. One of those mysteries we shall never have an answer for...One thing about this program is that residents are now on the prowl at all hours looking for out of town vehicles cluttering the residential program. An electric bike bypasses all these issues yet they struggle to gain favor with a majority of the population.
And then we have bicycles as art.  I miss Captain Outrageous, a former stock broker if I recall correctly who lived the dream and came to Key West to become of all things an artist. He did very nicely too painting anything mobile in bright primary tropical colors and covering his under coat with dots and whirls and whimsy. He died a good few years ago, I took the call to send him an ambulance and I felt bereft when I realized who it was because he created the best of that quirky good natured spirit of  Key West that we want this town to remain. You can still see a few scooters and bicycles around town with his peculiar and particular polka dots and I enjoy the reminder of his being here.
When winter closes in Up North the other kind of cyclist shows up in the Keys, hunched over curved handlebars, brightly colored spandex covered in advertising looking like they have lost the rest of their peloton in the Tour de France. I wish them joy of their public display of athleticism and cycling verve but I prefer the dude in the first photo managing an ill managed life or the second guy lumbering to work on two wheels.
I take myself off to spinning classes dressed in my usual cerements as I prefer to sweat copiously in private as my mother taught me. I was never one of those who cheered on the Giro d'Italia from the sidewalks and then attempted to emulate my heroes on a bicycle. I know my limitations.