Introducing Submarine and Lindsay
Introducing the newest member of BikeArlington's team -- Submarine, the cargo bike! Oh the places we'll go...
He’s really great at starting conversations, helping carry stuff and giving a boost up hills. Technically speaking, he’s Bullit Cargo Bike with Bionx E-Assist.
And having him around, as the Events & Outreach Coordinator for BikeArlington, has been awesome, for many reasons. The more utilitarian reason is that we run a lot of events, workshops and classes, and it is really, really useful for carrying heavy loads. While it’s definitely possible to move large loads without a cargo bike, I have to admit that it does make it much easier.
The unexpectedly delightful reason the cargo bike is great for our program is because it gives an easy starting point for conversations. And from all the smiles and waves we get, it also inspires people’s natural curiosity and generates some real joy. As the bike team, we’ve been splitting time commuting and running errands on it, and we all have awesome stories about the bike opening conversations with people– from the County Fair, to hardware stores, grocery stores, to folks asking questions from crosswalks and cafe patios. It helps to make our program visible and creates organic moments of connection to people curious about biking in Arlington. Which I love!
Just last night, an awesome neighbor named Brian flagged me down as I was inspecting onions at the grocery store. He had just bought a cargo bike himself, and was having fun biking his two kids around. And the kids, peering out from around his legs, were all smiles when I asked them about biking. We talked about biking in Arlington and while on vacation, and I told him about Kidical Mass. Then we were both off in our separate directions, a bit happier for a moment of shared bike love.
More than carrying heavy stuff up a hill, that moment wouldn’t have happened without Submarine.
In the weeks since BikeArlington Intergalactic Headquarters picked him up, I have been suffering from a panging desire to carry many very absurd things. Including people. This feeling is apparently common to bike owners with large-cargo solutions, as expertly illustrated by this comic.
So when my sister came to visit, I saw an opportunity. One that would require some careful cajoling and appeals to her absurd side—but certainly possible. As it was my weekend to be our rolling BikeArlington ambassador, we would ride around Arlington on the cargo bike. And, I would bike her to the airport.
Lindsay does not currently ride a bike, the most lasting part of a nasty crash some years ago, so my normal mode for showing her the sites was out. And neither of us loves driving. Plus, she has a sense of moral superiority when it comes to parallel parking that can only come from living in Chicago, and no one needs that.
From the airport, she took public transportation to my house. Her first comment was that she was weirded out by the carpet in the Metro cars. Already, things were working in my favor.
Saturday, we hiked and scampered around on a rocky hike we reached by car. We returned to my apartment happily tired and collapsed onto my couch. But alas! We were hungry—and getting back in the car seemed unbearable and walking, nearly impossible. I saw my chance.
“Perhaps we take the cargo bike?” I ventured.
There was a pause, and one of those sibling looks that says, “Are you serious?” And then, suddenly, she agreed! And we were off—to dinner, drinks and some delightful people watching in Clarendon. Sitting in the box in front, she got to look around and wave at people, who all smiled and waved at her. I got to delight in the gigantic smile plastered across her face. Also, we were able to talk easily, as she was sitting in the bucket facing me. Really, it turned a mundane trip into a fun little adventure.
So when it came time for her to get to the airport to head back to Chicago…her SmartTrip card was conveniently low, she proclaimed loudly to be over spending money on cabs AND I had already fit her and her luggage in the cargo bike to go to breakfast that morning. So why not go all the way?
The other easy selling point was that we would get to take the Mt. Vernon Trail—a sight you can only experience on bike or on foot. Sweeping views of the Potomac, lovely shade trees and of course, the monuments across the way.
It was probably the most leisurely trip to the airport I have ever made, and signs along the trail deliver you right to a bike parking lot near Terminal C. The unexpectedly nice thing about biking my sister to the airport was that it was easy for me to park and walk in with her. We were able to have a few more minutes of sister chat time and I was able to help her navigate the airport and get to security quickly. And a completely non-rushed goodbye near a super short security line was pretty great, too.
Biking back to work, I was sad to have said goodbye to my sister, but also feeling a sort of happiness radiating from the experience. Biking my sister to the airport was challenging, but possible. Also, we generated quite a bit of joy from some morning commuters who saw Linds in the box, with her luggage, waving like the queen while smoking a cigarette. And, I was a little bit impressed with where I live. I mean, where else can you take a world-class trail through a National Park to get the airport?
Do you have a great commuting story? We want to hear from you. Email email@example.com.