I’ve never considered myself a cyclist.
Of course, as a child I loved biking, I learned how to bike before turning 5 years old, and I was stealing the bike of my brother even if it was way too big for me, just because it didn’t have back support wheels as my tiny red bike.
I loved to bike with my friends in the park, I loved the speed, the mobility, the endless fuel.
But then, for many years, I stopped biking.
Why? Well, I guess one, because it is dangerous. Two, because the infrastructure is not adequate, so that makes it even more dangerous. Or at least that is what we keep telling ourselves no? that’s the kind of reasons we give ourselves when we stop doing things we enjoy.
So apart from a short period of 3 months of summer in Canada, when I had the chance to bike all over Halifax, I didn’t do it more. Many times I tried to re start, to make it part of my daily routine, I bought new and used bikes, but then ended up getting rid of them; it was always too cold, or too hot, or too rainy, or too far, or I would be too sweaty in the end. Many excuses kept me from turning a bike into my main transport.
Now I live in Riga, and despite the fact that the infrastructure is not adequate (roads are bumpy, not enough bike lanes around the city, narrow bridges shared with pedestrians), the fact that is quite cold quite often (feels like winter is never ending), and also the fact that I’m not the best biker (already had an unlucky episode related to tram tracks and front wheel), I’ve been biking for over two months.
So my old second hand purple bike has been taking me to work every day, and has been my ride to the places I need to get and also the places I want to get, some of them closer, some of them further. And also, I’ve come to discover and started joining a very active biking community in the city.
Two weeks ago, during a beautiful weekend I experienced three events related to bikes that stressed the importance and shared interest around bikes in Riga: the repair café, the competence “biking for culture” and the Critical Mass. All of them showed me a united, joyful and motivated community, and allow me to deeply enjoy Riga in two wheels.
Is not about going at full speed, ringing the bell to everyone to get out of your way, it’s about being more conscious of urban mobility, share spaces, share with your friends, and specially enjoy the ride.
I think EVS is learning from the new, but also re connecting with what we once knew and did, but then forgot. Here we are in our four month already, learning, experiencing and living Latvia.
Some images from the cool biking weekend on this video
made by Aaron, Irish friend, also doing EVS in Riga for a year.