She kissed me under the Wrigley Field sign, the girl with the close-cropped hair and the warm, wonderful eyes. She kissed me and laughed and said:
“Why don’t you take a Divvy bike?”
Divvy is Chicago’s new bike-sharing program, where for a pittance you have a day of a slow, blue cruiser you have to check in half hourly. My trip from Wrigleyville back to my Noble Square home would be my first trip on the public bikes, so I have decided to describe it in the most artistic way I, a prominent spoken word artist and college professor, know how:
So, for the record, riding a Divvy bike is like …
Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian short story “Harrison Bergeron”
As a regular urban cyclist, having to go from my zippy red wonder to this curvy blue cruiser was like making a ballerina do “Swan Lake” in a straightjacket and weights.
While the idea makes for heartbreaking and engaging short satirical fiction, it’s just not the best way to move around when you’re used to being free.
I mean, there’s a reason the city arms the bike cops with Treks and not Divvys.
The order Sirenia
The Divvy bike steers like a manatee (or its Pacific cousin, the dugong). It was bulky, slow and had sort of an aquatic quality to its motion, like each movement was piloting it through thick liquid.
Plus, sirenians, like all members of the clade Paenungulata (manatees, dugongs, elephants and hyraxes), have their testicles lodged deep within their body cavities.
The Divvy bike does not have great suspension and Chicago has some bumpy roads. Let’s leave it at that.
Guards around the gears so I didn’t have to tuck my pants leg in my sock. Fenders so I don’t get splashy with the puddles. Oversized handlebars with big grips. Simple instructions guiding me through the check-in, check-out function. Bright colors.
This was an idiot-proof bike, a child safety cap of cycling. I loved it.
The appeal of Jimmy Kimmel
The Divvy bike brakes – or at least the brakes on the particular bike I rented – seemed designed by someone who doesn’t really understand brakes, but had a friend who described brakes to him over drinks one night.
The brake-maker might have gotten the gist, maybe picked up a few details even. He vaguely gets that pulling some handle should make things, like, slow or something. I vaguely get that the celebrities reading mean tweets is supposed to be, like, cute or something.
But neither of us can say we really “get it.” Some things are just unfathomable, after all.
The pencil scene in “The Dark Knight”
Bikers: Stay off the sidewalk, don’t cut reds and if you participate in Critical Mass, you forfeit the right to be treated like a vehicle for a month. You don’t get to sit at the grown-up table on Monday by throwing a tantrum the Friday night before.
Drivers: Get on a damn bike. Everything that annoyed me about the Divvy bike makes it perfect for you. I can zip along the streets because I’m an experienced urban cyclist. You need a safety scissors manatee, bucko.
I know you can’t always ride. There’s weather to handle and kids and things to haul. But on the days when you could feasibly get from A to B to L, M, N on a people-powered fat-burner, Divvy couldn’t have made it easier if they hired Lance Armstrong to dope you up a hill and then apologize the whole way down.
Get started on a Divvy, fall in love with biking and then get your own machine to do things much less Kimmel on a dugong.
The moment you step on a Divvy bike is the moment you get sold on biking, by the way. This is the moment where you were sort of OK on the whole concept but then this happens and, hot damn, now you’re 100, 200, 300 percent in in in and you have never been so sold on anything before.
How about a magic trick?