Walk Bike Connect
As we enter the third month of staying at home, much has been written about the social isolation and disconnection the pandemic has brought. On the bright side, two activities have come forward in communities across the country as the perfect antidote to these problems, WALKING and BIKING. These activities not only improve people’s physical and mental health, they allow people to see friends and neighbors and, at a safe distance, have social interaction.
I could fill a few pages with walking and biking stories from my own neighborhood, but I won’t. Instead, I will share two stories from friends. The first is from a friend who moved from New York to Portland, ME late last fall. As winter set in he and his family didn’t have much opportunity to get out and meet their new neighbors. When stay at home orders began, they worried about feeling even more isolated by not knowing many people in their new neighborhood. However, after a couple of weeks and taking time to get out and walk their new surroundings my friend said the pandemic had a silver lining. Because so many people were also out walking and biking or hanging out in front of their homes, that provided the opportunity to meet and get to know most of their new neighbors, and feel they were part of the neighborhood. The same is happening in communities everywhere as a positive result of the pandemic.
The second story is of a friend who was out on a bike ride, a few miles from his home in Saratoga Springs, NY. While on a largely car free road he saw a small group of other cyclists ahead of him. As he caught up to the group, he said hello, and one of the other riders looked over and said, “hey weren’t you my daughters soccer coach”. My friend said yes and the two chatted and caught up with what their daughters were now up to post collage graduation. Again, if not for the pandemic, this chance encounter probably would not have happened.
My message is that while much of what we have all been experiencing over the past couple of months will not be remembered fondly, I hope that stories and memories of experiences like these will be. I also hope we will all carry these fond memories forward as we move beyond Covid-19, and that we will continue to make time to walk and bike with family and friends, spend time in front of our homes, and make these activities part of the “new normal”.