I add my 77 year old voice to that of Harry Siitonen (Nov. 3-4) concerning the ability of men and women over 45 to bicycle around Berkeley. I gave up my car 12 years ago, for economic reasons and as an environmental, health, and political statement. I was writing the book “Rebuilding Community in America:...,” persuading the reader to live in Cohousing and Cooperative Communities that are car independent, energy resourceful, and socially harmonious. I now “walk my talk.”
In the Bay Area, even with its imperfect transit system, but better than lots of places, I get around via bus, bike, and BART and carpooling, and I love it: good exercise, no insurance and fossil fuel costs, and no parking hassle, especially at Berkeley Bowl and in Downtown Berkeley. I bet that I run my 4 to 7 errand circuit around Berkeley in less time than a car driver takes considering their parking and walking time. I pedal up to every destination and on to the next without having to tug a 2000 pound pollution machine around.
Now a word of caution! Yes bicycling builds muscles, stamina, and better health. But before venturing out on this courageous new era in your life, you must first build muscle, stamina, and confidence. I mean, go into training, work on the muscle groups that help propel a bike, but also are used for control to eliminate the “beginner wobble.” The leg, arm, and shoulder muscles are used in a similar way as when riding a horse, but this is a two wheeled version. It takes some coordinated muscle pressure in all directions to assist in the balancing and steering, it is not like a power steered car.
So gather you environmental resolve and quest for healthy living, and walk or take the bus to the Berkeley “Y”, or invent your own home version of bike training. Try out bicycling on your sidewalk, then a vacant parking lot, then the Ohlone Bike Path. Build your control muscles and confidence and you can join us 75, 77, and older Geezers.