We now live down the street from the Somerville Bike Path, which is exactly like a Somerville road, except that it’s for humans and bicycles and the occasional municipal vehicle that comes along to plow the slush away. This time of year, that means scrambling into a snowbank and getting splashed anyway, but since the sidewalks aren’t plowed at all, your feet are already soaking and it doesn’t really matter.
Frankly, any amount of slush could not make the Bike Path a bad idea.
First of all, let’s just say that it’s AWESOME not having to share space with cars. It’s like being in a women’s bathroom during a wedding reception, except the women are all humans regardless of gender and the bathroom is a route of conveyance between Cedar Street and Davis Square. (Although I must admit that at the last big wedding reception I went to, a concierge thought I was a man and chased me out of the bathroom with a mop. This story’s going nowhere, is it? I’ll stop.)
Walking without being, essentially, a vehicle subordinate to noisy, fume-producing gas guzzlers is sort of empowering. Think about it: not only does the damnable automobile rule our ability to travel to work, suck our wallets dry, and poison our atmosphere, but it dominates the road, pushing natural locomotion to the side and splashing it with mud just to remind it that its place is in the gutter. It’s humiliating.
On the bike path, I get to people-watch, moving as slowly as I like down the broad avenue. That means more talking and more listening. While traversing backyards, a community garden, and several side streets, it’s impossible not to feel like there’s a conversation going on between you and the rest of the community’s backyard stuff. Plus, people who live near Davis tend to have much more awesome stuff than I do, and I like to assess it according to the likelihood that I’ll be able to snag it at Goodwill if and when the student/professor/researcher/person in residence decides to bounce within the next few years.
Plus, it’s damn convenient. At one end of the bike path is the apartment and the cats and Internet access and the new cake pan I dug out of a curb alert today and my girlfriend working very hard to be open-minded about the cake pan I dug out of a curb alert today. So, you know, home. On the other end is a totally rad cineplex, J.P. Licks, a Goodwill store full of magical professor castoffs, an actual butcher’s store where I bought three pounds of hamburger meat recently, and Diesel, which is probably the most thoroughly lesbian cafe I’ve ever thrown too much money at. And, falofel. Because there wasn’t enough other awesome going on. There are a few other things I like in Davis – my barber’s there, bless his heart; he was awfully surprised at how much hair I turned out to have – and there’s a mediocre comic book shop where some schmuck assumed I was a noob before I schooled the hell out of him, because I’m not – and there’s a nice Red Line connection. Sweet.
And it’s supposed to get progressively better, a plan with which the Powers That Be will hopefully follow through. When and if the path expands, I may well get to walk to the main Somerville Library branch and the thoroughly awesome Armory.
And if President Obama visits this area and walks the path and becomes obsessed with it and issues an executive order to build walking paths in every city of every state everywhere and enforces that order by martial law and the National Guard, then you to will know the joy of being able to walk to a place without worrying about all the damn cars.
Until then, I get my bitty little piece of walking path to Davis and back.