People like the forbidden, I’m told. It seems to make sense. That stolen-candy rush when you’re doing something you’re not really supposed to… or maybe I’m projecting a little hard. There seems to me a sweetness about doing things that are looked-down-upon, improper, or maybe just a little subversive.
Night cycling is one of the tamest of these. First, there’s the cold hard fact: I lived for many years in what amounted to a retirement community, where the sidewalks rolled up at 6pm… if there were even sidewalks. Most areas had no sidewalks. To go out at night was to be a criminal. Every few nights, I would get stopped by police. “Where do you live?” “It’s after midnight. There’s a curfew, you know.” “Oh, sorry ma’am. You just look young.”
Even here, exploring Fort Lauderdale, I get that subversive rush. I’m sailing down streets mostly untrafficked, passing shop windows I vow to return to in daylight, and then, best of all, I stumble upon a neat night spot, light flooding out, and food scents curling over my face.
More than this, there is a the contact with the night. In a car, I am enclosed, cut off, shuttling from here to there as fast as you please. Stopping is a process. It takes time. time becomes this precious thing. On a bicycle… well, it’s a lot easier to simply brake, lock up, and explore. You’re already out in the air. You need no real parking spot. Just a tree to which to tether. A post. Or one of those lovely bike racks that dot urban landscapes. There’s always room. It’s easy.
It’s a shrugging off of the cult of the car, that sacred institution. I can go further, faster on a bike than with my feet, and the miles take mere minutes. All of these things combine to grant me a sense that I am totally free. What could be more delicious and subversive than that?