Birmingham! Wake up!
I went to Portland for work the week before last with some trepidation. It represents everything cycling in America, and many who have traveled out there have NOT wanted to return. Like “just UPS my stuff over, ok?” type not coming back. Others from Birmingham made the move to those beautifully green pastures, and have never looked back with even an iota of home sickness or regret. Although I gripe and complain about Birmingham my fair share, I’m very stubborn and don’t want to be another sheep (harsh?). I set my mind to resist before I even got on the plane.
It wasn’t what I expected. It was amazingly beauitful. There were bikes everywhere. So many that I was completely overwhelmed and didn’t take many photos. I thought about sitting on a corner and just snapping a pic of everyone who rode by, but I plopped down to beer and a book from Powell’s instead. Bike lanes, let me tell you. Multiple modes of public transportaiton, interesting new “green” arcitecture, folks with tattoos, boys who said they liked my tights, delicious vegan food…
BUT! There was still tons of traffic. There were still chain stores and plenty of generic junk. People looked avarage – not particularly cool, not particularly “green”. Basically, it just didn’t seem like the heaven I imagined. I guess I have a wild imagination. The only thing that Portland did to me was to make my blood boil for Birmingham. I wanted to jump on a flight back home, round up all my dear wonderful beautiful genius genuine caring bad-ass friends, climb to the top of Vulcan, and yell at the top of our lungs, “BIRMINGHAM! GET A GRIP! YOU CAN BE JUST AS COOL AS PORTLAND!”
Seriously, Birmingham is beautiful, Birmingham has an excellent downtown with tons of building just begging to be put to good use, Birmingham has all the necessary ingredients. The battleground is in our minds.
It’s all about our minds now because we’ll only get as far as we believe we can go! Yes, the average ’hamian is either afraid of progress and feels the need to live in the past, stuck in the ruts of disenfranchisement and security, or else they are selfish bastards with no grip on reality. They want their short-sighted eleveated 280, and their Chic-Fil-A with a drive-thru in our town square, and they want to tear down every piece of history we have to build a Walgreens next door to a CVS. But we don’t have to put up with that shit!
We had a worthless bike to work day last week (I would never bike to work again if that was my first “encouraging” attempt), and we don’t have to put up with that shit either! Let’s stand up and make some noise; if we tell them not to fuck with us any more, eventually they’ll listen. Geurilla tactics! Break out those angry eyes (if you know me, you know what I mean). All these close minded naysayers don’t have our power of conviction, so if we hold strong and really fight for what we believe in, and stay in Birmingham through it all, I truly believe we can impart change here. We can turn Birmingham into the best town in the south, rather than one of the worst places to cycle, located in the least cycling friendly state for the second year running.
Birmingham! Wake up! It’s our turn!