Yesterday was the first anniversary of the death of our friend, musician Matthew Sperry. Matthew was run over by a pickup while on a bicycle on his way to work, leaving behind his wife and two-year-old daughter. His premature death sent waves of shock and sadness through our circle of friends, which resonate with us still. His daughter Lila is three now, and is beginning to better understand and articulate her daddy’s absence in sweet but chilling ways. His wife Stacia is coping as best as could be hoped, but is still suffering from his loss.
A large circle of Matthew’s friends gathered yesterday in the beautiful columbarium where his ashes lie. The bow from his bass was passed around as a “talking stick,” and people took turns memorializing him in words — so many different angles on his passing. It was truly touching. Matthew’s musician friends performed mournful pieces in the resonant, sun-filled chambers of the Chapel of the Chimes. Afterwards we gathered at Stacia and Lila’s house to eat, talk, and remember.
We love you, Matthew. You are missed. So missed. Blessings.
Salon: A new congressional transportation appropriations bill will entirely eliminate some $600 million worth of annual federal funding for bike paths, walkways and other such transportation niceties in fiscal year 2004. Meanwhile, “highways would receive $34.1 billion in fiscal year 2004, which is $2.5 billion more than this year.”
Never mind the political fallout of U.S. oil dependency on the Middle East, or the fact that the average mileage per gallon for new cars and trucks in the U.S. is at its lowest level in 20 years.
We worked very hard to find a house within biking distance to work. The bike path that gets me 80% of the way there has turned out to be more of a blessing than I had imagined (when I’m not getting atomized on the remaining 20%). Being able to ride or walk to work through the city amongst green grass, away from threat of cars, is an experience I wish every American — and every congressperson — could have for just one week. Instead we encourage the problem and discourage the solution.
So 80% of my bicycle commute is off city streets. The remaining 20% is still in the car-o-sphere, as I discovered this evening when a woman with no insurance (of course) hooked a sudden left in front of me. Half a second to react, and I was looking at a horizontal Honda in my path. That quick pang of inevitability before my front wheel hit her flank and I went sailing over the trunk. Right wrist and forearm took most of the impact, back and ribs caught some too.
What pissed me off was the way she started yelling that she didn’t see me, as if that somehow made it my fault. It was broad daylight, the sun was at her back, and she wasn’t on the phone. So then… what? Why are bikes so damn invisible to cars? As she continued her stupid defensive rant, I lay on my back halfway on the sidewalk and told her about Matthew, and how that driver “just didn’t see him” either. It started to sink in and she started to cry.
A very kind woman (a theology prof) gave me a ride home. Turns out she was connected to Matthew as well. Eerie.
Spent the rest of the evening in the emergency room. Two fractures in my right forearm/wrist. In a splint and sling for the next long while. I feel a monstro cars/bikes rant coming on — the one I’ve supressed since Matthew’s death — but typing one-handed is too slow.
Great parody of the original anti-drug site. In this version, cars and driving are cast as dangerous drugs threatening the emotional and physical health of modern teens.
I’ve been driving for 20 years. I wish I never started. It destroys your body little by little. If you’re a kid and reading this, start learning how to live car-free now, you’ll thank me later.
I work with some very pro-car people, which makes for some… interesting lunch conversations. One of my coworkers is so adamantly anti-bike that he feels they should be confined to sidewalks. I feel society should bend over backwards at every opportunity to accommodate bicycles. You can imagine how that discussion went. Let’s find out who’s right for once and for all by conducting a rigorous scientific poll, shall we?
Almost a year after the accident, I finally sold the motorcycle. To an Apple employee, no less (WebObjects team). Cool guy. At least I know it’s going to a good home. Not sure why it took me so long. It’s been out of the shop for ages. Just couldn’t bring myself to do it, even though I had already agreed that I wouldn’t be riding it anymore. The guy came to check it out last night, test drove. Offered me a fair price, money for the housing fund. Tonight after work I drove it into SF for him (he was a bit nervous).
But when I got on the bike I realized it was just 35 miles shy of turning 10k miles. No way could that opportunity slip through the fingers. Warm summer evening. The final hurrah. Headed the opposite direction from the highway, up into the Oakland/Berkeley hills, straight for the Grizzly Peak ride. Taking it easy at first, hadn’t done any serious riding in a year, slowly building back up toward the old speeds. But not pushing it. Once bitten and all that. Just felt so good, that time of the day when the light is all golden, everyone is inside eating dinner and watching jeapordy and the hills are on fire with sunset light, smell of pines and eucalyptus, distant ocean smell, the twisties all to myself.
Got really contemplative about it. Of course a big part of me wants to keep the bike and enjoy summer on two wheels. And this other part of me, this new part, that knows so viscerally what happens when you blow it once for a split second, and this other part that’s like genetic programming, self preservation for the sake of the kid (the kid is, after all, the rhetoric I used to sell the bike – “gotta do the dad thing.”) Anyway, I made my peace then and there, leaning into a left hander. Enjoy it this once more, and say goodbye. I feel okay with this. It’s fine.
Gassed up for the buyer and timed it just right – 10,000 miles rolled over on the Bay Bridge heading west into the dusk, the sea all purple on either side, summer night sky coming down, getting cooler. Patted the tank and thanked the bike for the life lessons we took in together, and for all the fun. Got kind of choked up. It was good.
Came across the most unusual bicycle shop today – a little hole in the wall in a hallway mall that connects Bancroft and Channing. Outside was a bright orange road bike with that really “straightforward” style like the bikes in Holland. Turns out it was Swedish – Europeans right now are apparently going nuts over mid-century bicycles, or resurrections of them. Next to that bike was a grayish purple Japanese road bike – again super “normal” looking, but also really clean in a form follows function sort of way.
Turns out the proprietor had this vision of filling Berkeley with thousands of used Japanese and European road bicycles. The bikes have really long lifespans, but most Europeans and Japanese want to replace their bike every couple of years just for the hell of it, like computer upgrades. So zillions of these things sit around in landfills, available so cheap they’re almost free.
The guy had a good job at IBM and had saved up a bunch of money. He didn’t need any more money. He needed to see Berkeley have access to good bikes for cheap. So he started up this business importing used road bikes and selling them for less than it cost to import them. What a cool guy – his name is Kai, the place is called Momovelo. Wish there were more Kais in the world.