Cycling strengthens community

To the Editor:

I was heading home, finishing up a short bike ride around town. Up ahead a woman flagged me down as I approached her. She asked me if I had seen a small reddish-colored dog in my travels. Apparently the little rascal had escaped from her house and was somewhere loose in the neighborhood. I had not seen her dog, but promised to keep my eyes open.

Around the corner and a bit further down the road, I saw a police car with lights flashing behind a parked vehicle. The officer was speaking with the driver, who was holding a small reddish-colored Terrier under her arm. She had spotted the little dog wandering around looking lost, and alertly pulled over and grabbed the little fellow. I told them of my recent encounter with the dog’s owner, and where she could be found. The officer placed the escapee in the back of her patrol car and prepared to complete the rescue. I thanked the rescuer, and circled back and found the dog owner, who was still scouring the neighborhood. Happily, I told her that her dog had been found by a kindly motorist, and that a police officer would be returning her pet very shortly. She was relieved and elated, and I was very happy to have played a role in this little drama.

This experience reminded me of how, in addition to so many other benefits, bicycling maintains and strengthens a sense of community in our town. When I ride through our neighborhood streets, I am regularly greeted with a smile or a wave by pedestrians and other cyclists, which I happily return. Every one of these encounters, in a small way, strengthens the ties that bind me to my larger community. In contrast, when we drive our motor vehicles on town streets, we are insulated by steel and glass from other members of the community. Interactions, when they do occur, are most often negative and unsettling. Motor vehicles isolate us and push us apart; bicycles bring us together.

I doubt very much that I would have played any role in the rescue of that wayward terrier if I had been driving in my car at that time. For the sake of that little dog and its owner, I am very glad that I was on my bicycle.

Edward Pawlak,

West Hartford

Connecticut Media Group