The article posted below was written about my beloved hometown, Pittsburgh, and its scenic riverfront trails. I can relate to the author’s feelings of forgetting about safety and feeling “the freedom, the joy of smooth self-propulsion and the expectation of getting somewhere in 15 minutes that would take an hour to walk.”
I had a similar feeling the first time I bought a raincoat in preparation to move to Oregon. I felt impenetrable by the weather. I completely forgot about the fact that it was raining because I was out and about, dry, and not wrestling an umbrella in the middle of the sidewalk. I volunteered to go to the bank to get change for work just because I wanted to put my hood up and down to see the results of the raincoat’s protection. My non-raincoated coworkers happily obliged. It was a new, hooded, and water-resistant freedom. This is where my term “the raincoat effect” developed.
I experienced the raincoat effect my first time riding on a cycle track in Eugene. I felt significant as a cyclist, fast, and above all safe. The few inches of separation between me and the vehicles felt like miles, and I could cruise along and take in my new scenery without a white-knuckled grip on my freshly wrapped handlebars.
And I had this same feeling my first day on a bike in Copenhagen. I caught on to the bicycling system quickly, I understood the city layout (surprisingly), and I felt comfortable pedaling at a slower pace amongst herds of cyclists. I am constantly amazed with the ease of cycling in that city and just how accessible Copenhagen makes it for all riders.
One year later on a completely different bike, in a completely different city I experienced this freedom of cycling. That feeling still feels awesome.