My Week Without Driving experience was really impactful for me. First off, the organizing around the event inspired me to do something I’ve said I wanted to do for at least 5 years – I got on an eBike for the very first time! And, not just one bike but I got to try out four unique bikes and then rented one for three days.
During WWD I actually went two full days without driving or riding in a car. The absolute privilege of having an eBike and the little extra time necessary to commute during those days were key factors. I took two significant trips on the bike. First, I rode across town to a social/political event. It was about 4 miles each way and I was forced to ride through many distinct neighborhoods and on at least 4 different streets. The transition from downtown hillside to West Duluth was especially scary. No bike lanes and lots of exposure to fast moving traffic was challenging to say the least.
My second trip was a commute to my retail work at Costco Duluth on Arrowhead Road from my home in Hunters Park. This trip involved a 4 mile ride back and forth on Arrowhead Road. I used a sidewalk for much of the trip. Driving headlong into traffic that was traveling an average of 50 MPH was truly an exercise in mindfulness. Coming home I moved in the same direction as the traffic while on the sidewalk, which was not quite as challenging.
Overall, I loved the whole experience. I have a little more respect for those who commute via bicycle. I also have a little deeper understanding of the infrastructure issues that bike riders face.