Posted by: Llywelyn Graeme, Ambassador’s Executive Assistant
Beijing, China; Wellington, New Zealand; Washington, D.C.; Kyiv, Ukraine. Other than being national capitals, they are all cities where I biked to work every day. I’ve been an avid bicyclist since I was in junior high school, and have tried to keep up with it ever since. Admittedly, there were times when the pollution in Beijing, the 100 kilometer per hour winds in Wellington, the 38° heat in DC and the -30° cold in Kyiv have made it a challenge, but I try to ride every day. It has been a challenge at times, each city has its unique difficulties. Crowded, flat, hilly, many bike paths or none, it has always been better than driving. Quite apart from the sheer cost of a car (I’ve never owned one) there is fuel, repairs, insurance, maintenance and parking costs. And in some cities at certain times of day, a bicycle can go much faster than a car. In fact I can usually go the same speed as the tram on my street. Well, downhill at least.
So what do I ride? I have a classic American Schwinn mountain bicycle from the 80’s. It is solid steel and very ugly. Black with pink lettering. Originally I bought it used from my favorite bike shop (Bike Works in Wallingford, R.I.P) because it was the only one I could afford. I was just starting a new job and needed to get to work. I’ve had to fight several times with bike shops not to “upgrade,” they always seem to take it as a personal affront that my bike keeps going with minor repairs. These days it is long out-of-fashion and parts are hard to come by. But I’ve ridden it for years and years now and it has never been stolen or even had a major breakdown. It may not be pretty or fashionable, but it’s tough as nails and doesn’t let me down. Well, not often, I had a blow out on Artem street last week. Now I just need to find a good bike shop in my latest home town, Kyiv.
Kyiv Bike Day 2012 is scheduled for May 26 and starts at 10 a.m. at Mykhaylivska sq. For more details: http://bikeday.org.ua/ua/