Friday, August 27, 2021

Is Bicycling Slower or Faster than Driving?

The one response I hear the most from other pastors (and church-goers) when I talk about my experience as the pedaling pastor is, "That may work for you, but I don't have the time to pedal, or walk, or take the bus..."  

Which brings me to the topic of today's post: Is Bicycling Slower or Faster than Driving a Car?

Test case: Hospital Visit.

This week I pedaled to the hospital to visit a parishioner.  The distance from my house to the hospital is 5 miles, it took me approximately 30 minutes to pedal it.  I then pedaled another 5 miles to church, which took an additional 30 minutes.  To drive, it would have taken me 20 minutes, plus parking, plus visiting the parking office to get my parking validated (perk of being a clergy person), and let us not forget my CO2 contribution ($3.29 to offset it).  

From a purely time equivalent vantage point: driving was "quicker," 20 minutes of driving compared to one hour of bicycling.  But what happened during my one hour of bicycling?  

One, I burned 600 calories.  
Two, on the way to the hospital I listened to a beautiful sermon: Ezekiel's Tree by the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III  on the  Day 1 podcast (which also allows me to hear the host of Day 1, fellow WVian Rev. Peter Wallace); on the way to church, I listened to Sermon Brainwave's podcast on the lectionary texts for Sunday.  Many will say, I could have listened to those podcasts while driving.  True.  But you wouldn't have listened fully or as safely while pedaling (or walking or taking public transit).  Driving demands your full attention.  One split second when you fiddle with your phone could be a life or death decision.  On a bike path, or non/slow-trafficked road, it's not all the time life or death.  
Three, I was aware of my surroundings.  I got a feel for the new bike/ped path that crosses highway 62 and the new bike/ped path along 66th St. (see pictures below).  Because of the placement of bike parking at the hospital (only one bike rack I could find, which was 309 steps from the front door) I saw those who took the bus to the hospital and those who were struggling to get into the Emergency Room (if I had driven, I would have, literally, been above all of these interactions).
Four, I was out in the fresh air for one hour.  I heard birds, saw clouds, smelled garlic roasting and people smoking pot, felt sunshine.  

Sometimes slower is faster!

Trust in the Slow Work of God

Above all, trust in the slow work of God
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability-
and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you.
your ideas mature gradually – let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955)

when visiting the hospital, I advise you to wear a clerical collar (even if it is not your tradition).  they really grease your way around a hospital. 
here is the new approach to the bridge over highway 62.  before this was just a dirt path.

as you can see, they added an additional 18 inches of concrete on the right of the sidewalk.  This provides an amazing improvement of shared safe (and separated) pedaling/walking space.

different riding surfaces along 66th st.

bike parking 309 steps from ER entrance

(no one in the parking office, no problem for me)

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

In Praise of Dave Walker

If you don't know the name Dave Walker by now, you need to.  

Dave is a committed cyclists, a cartooned, and an active Methodist!  

I was introduced to Dave via Carlton Reid when I asked him if he knew of any clergy who were committed cyclists.  He said, "I don't think Dave is a member of the clergy.  But he is a cyclist and draws great church + cycling cartoons for the Church Times."  I immediately found Dave on Twitter, the Church Times' web page and then began a basking in his wonderfulness.

Dave, more than anyone I know, has been able to communicate the beauty, functionality, and justice of cycling and church going more than anyone I know.  Go here for a wonderful Church Times podcast (warning, the audio is a low, you'll need to turn it up), go here for a wonderful article he wrote, Off to Church on Two Wheels, for the Church Times, and go here to pre-order his book, available in the US September 7, 2021.

Also, Dave, while chatting on the podcast, gave me a great idea e-bikes for clergy.  But get this big brain idea, we call them Clerg-E-Bikes!  

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Walking, Bicycling, Public Transit and Faith Communities News Roundup: August 7, 2021.

-The Christian Century published a wonderful article by Elaine Blanchard on Revolutions Bike Co-Op.  What you may not know is that Revolutions Bike Co-Op is located in First Congregational church in Memphis, TN.  I spoke with the pastor a few years ago and talked about their creative building use and bicycling ministry.  I love this church and I love this model!  

Speaking of bikes, Minneapolis Community and Technical College is now offering a Bicycle Assembly and Repair Technician!  This coupled with the Minnesota State College Southeast Technical and Community College's in Red Wing campus Bicycle Design and Fabrication program I think I am now sending my CV to offer my commencement address services, pro bono.

-Author Angie Schmitt, author of Right of Way, was on WBUR's On Point program talking about pedestrian issues, road safety and general amazingness.  

-Metro Transit (the Twin Cities' public transit organization) is offering $1 fares for September and October as a way to entice riders back.  

I love this idea, I hope they keep it at $1 going forward.  Make transit cheaper than gas - that's the only way public transit can win!

-And I'd love it if you invested a little under an hour of your time listening to Dr. Laura Hartman, the world's authority on church parking lots & professor at Roanoke College, on the Logos(ish) podcast.  Dr. Hartman not only talks about parking lots, but beautifully explains the wonderful role of congregations to inspire and encourage community transformation.  

-Finally, do you have an old cotton mask that you are going to throw away?  DON'T.  If you can still use it, use it.  But if it has a hole in it, don't throw it away.  Instead, send it to Rev. Laura Everett, Ex. Director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, she is mending them!  You may know Rev. Everett as the author of Holy Spokes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Clergy Bike 6.0: Papa Francesco

About the same time President Biden gifted PM Johnson with the "Boris Bike" I found an old Miyata City Runner on Craigslist for $75.  I picked the bike up and rode it for two weeks without making any changes.  After two weeks I took the Boris Bike as my inspiration and turned it into Clergy Bike: Papa Francesco.

Over the years I have tried to make all my bikes into Clergy Bikes, but either they have had structural issues making them unsafe to ride or they were not the right fit. 

History (skip ahead if you desire). Version 1.0 was an old Miyata with a bent frame, I bent it back but it was never "right."  Version 2.0, my Breezer Citizen with an internal 3speed hub I bought in New Orleans - outfitted with winter tires (the winter riding was hard on this bike - tore it up, but I kept it anyway).  Version 3.0 was an old Univega Alpina but the front fork was ovalized, it lasted a season.  Version 4.0 was a Fuji touring bike, which I dearly loved, but it was a size too small.  Version 5.0 (or 2.5?) was the Breezer Citizen with a 7speed internal hub, but the bottom bracket was cracked.  As you can read, not the best of luck with these bikes.  Luckily, they were either free, really cheap and scrapped for parts, or as in the case of the Fuji I gave it to one of my kids.  When I found a Miyata City Runner on craigslist for $75 I jumped at it.  

Here is the Boris Bike:

Here is Clergy Bike 6.0: Papa Francesco:

My picture was taken in the alley and not the railroad tracks.  Why?  Have you ever ridden a bike on rail road tracks?  I have; it's extremely uncomfortable AND the railroad police will come after you - they caught me one time. 

I took the Boris Bike and tried to make it more utilitarian (front basket, fenders, bike lock, dutch style handlebars, front wheel stabilizer, and the widest seat I could find).  I love the wide range of gears (Microsoft Acolyte), the upright riding style, and the feel of the bike overall.  I'm not riding to win races, I'm riding in a Dutch-style manner "fast-walking."  

I have yet to find a picture of Pope Francis riding a bike, but I imagine this is the kind of bike he would ride around Rome (if given the chance) to the local chocolate shop...