Tag Archives | bicycles

an ethical dilemma of the two-wheeled variety

I have a bicycle in this non-bike-friendly city and I ride it (defiantly) to work, and along the waterfront bike path, and I’m gearing up (no pun intended) to ride around and explore the city. A bike is a great thing – you can cover more ground than if you’re just walking, but you’re connected to the cityscape much more intimately than if you were in a car.

And, I have to say, as a person who was raised in the northern midwest, and then went to Boston, and then to New York, the fact that I’m riding my bike around in November, without freezing my ass off – well, that’s just remarkable. I love it.

But. (There’s always a catch, isn’t there? No catch, no story.)

But. I don’t have a basket on my bike. The original owner of the bike (hi Lisa)  said I should get panniers for the back instead of a basket, because I can carry more stuff and they’re less bulky (you can buy collapsible pannier baskets).

Lisa is probably right (she usually is, about most stuff) except I love to ride no-handed, as I pedal along the flat paving of the Corniche, and having the panniers on the back will disrupt my balance, especially if one is holding a water bottle and the other side is holding a camera. I’d wobble, I’d fall, it would hurt, I’d cry. I don’t want to cry in public on the Corniche.

I want a basket for the front of my bike. You’d think it’s not that big a request, right? I’ve been to three bike shops and nope, nope, nope. I’ve been to some sporting goods stores. Unh-unh.  It’s like my great search for a waffle iron, which Husband finally had to buy when he was in London a few weeks ago.  Couldn’t find a waffle iron here for love nor money (although another friend has a bead on a possible source, so stay tuned).

A basket. Such a simple thing.

Enter the ethical dilemma. Downstairs, in the basement of the building, there are bike racks. Next to where I park my bikes are two bikes that look as if they’ve been abandoned: flat tires, dust, untouched. Even the things in the bike basket–a bike pump, a lock (which is in the basket, closed, and with the key attached), some crumpled pieces of paper – are untouched, and I’m talking months, not days or weeks. Months.

What? Why yes, I did mention a basket.

One of the bikes, which is about the right size for a twelve-year old child, has the perfect basket on its front handlebars. Perfect.

Here’s my question: would it be wrong for me to detach the basket from that bike and put it on my bike? I mean, I’d leave a note with my contact information, and I’d offer either to pay for the basket or return it, if the owner wants it back.

Otherwise the basket is just sitting there, collecting dust. Shouldn’t I liberate it, let it out in the Gulf sunshine to be its best basket-self?

My children, feral beasts that they are, said TAKE IT. They weren’t even sure I should leave a note.

What do you think I should do?


Continue Reading · on November 28, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Children, exercise, NaBloPoMo

abu dhabi bicycle

When women started riding bicycles, it was considered shocking. A bicycle has to be, you know, straddled.  Plus there was the possibility that a bicyclist might wear a split skirt…or, worse, bloomers.

Plus there was always the chance her ankles might show.

Susan B Anthony is reported to have said that bicycles have “done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world…it gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

And now, more than a century later? I’m not sure that bikes are still a feminist vehicle, but they are certainly an alternative means of transportation.

My column about the pleasure – and serious perils – of bike riding in Abu Dhabi appears today in The National.  Click here to read the article – and then feel free to share the article with all your bike-loving friends.

Look, if the women in this picture can ride bikes in long skirts and truly ridiculous hats, you can ride your bike to the grocery store.






photo image credit here

Continue Reading · on November 16, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, exercise, Feminism, sports, UAE

In which husband gives me a gift

Here’s what he did: he took both boys to Legoland Windsor for the entire day. Without me.

I hear there’s a castle in Windsor too, but as far as my kids are considered, it’s all about the Pirate Flume, baby.

We’ve been living out of suitcases now for a month, with another week to go, and while I love my children (especially now that they’re asleep), we’ve had a whole lot of together time in the last four weeks. A whole lot. A whole, whole, whole lot. Like they’re attached to me at the hip, shoulder, hand, elbow, neck, and knee. That kind of a lot. Think limpet.

So when Husband saw the ad for Legoland, he took pity on me and off they went. The boys planned their attack:

(That’s hot chocolate in Liam’s hand, btw, not coffee. I hope. But when you’re traveling with Daddy, anything can happen.)

They arrived to this:

and this:

Lots of lines, lots of crowds, lots of noise.

I got:

Cycles for hire all over London, modeled after velolib in Paris. Do you think Mayor Mike can implement such a thing in NYC?

I pedaled through the park, dropped the bike at the top of Regent Street, and walked along the shops. Why is it that in other cities we do things we’d never, ever do at home? Because in New York, on a beautiful sunny day, the last thing in the world I would elect to do is wander down, say Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to Madison Square. I hate shopping, mostly, and department stores make me anxious. Too many choices! Too many escalators that never, ever, take you where you want to go!

I made my way down Regent Street, through the ghastliness of Piccadilly Circus, and roundabout to Somerset House for art at the Courtauld Gallery. Paintings that I got got look at without someone saying “can we go yet? can we go now? are you done now?

There was an exhibit called “Falling Up”:

And the only thing I saw that came even close to a roller coaster were the stairs of Somerset House:

After I was done at Somerset House, I found another Cycle Stand, grabbed a bike, and pedaled back to our friend’s apartment through the late afternoon sunlight.

A day alone. Funny how ten years ago, in PKL (pre-kid life), a day alone didn’t seem like any big deal. Now? What a gift. More than atones for Husband’s evening ritual of carefully placing his dirty socks on the coffee table.

And hell, Windsor Castle has been there for umpteen hundred years. What’s the rush?

*the image of “Falling Up” is a piece by Catherine Parker, entitled “Neither From Nor Towards.” The stones are from the shoreline at Dover.



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Continue Reading · on August 5, 2011 in Children, family, marriage, Travel

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