- CARGO BIKES
In the first week of light restrictions, I remember a day – it was the 4th of March – in which, during my routine-cycle-path-to-university, I counted 3 cargo bikes on my route. THREE! Never seen one before in my entire stay in Milan (almost 7 years). One was a cargo for children. The other 2 for carrying heavy parcels. What was that? Coincidence? I will never know, but it made me think on how people can reinvent their way to move if forced in special circumstances. Or finally feel allowed to use that thing they kept in their garage for months.
- “I AM GOING TO WORK”
Few days ago, I read an article on a dentist in the Bergamo province (an area where COVID-19 hit particularly hard) who had to stick on his back a sign with the write “I AM GOING TO WORK” while cycling to work. Why? Because the municipality closed the bike lane (due to covid restrictions) and he had to go on the main street, receiving endless insults from car drivers. Now, there are 2 very wrong things in this story, and they are both connected with the fact that the bike is not conceived as a mode of transport. Neither from the municipality, nor from the citizens.
- EXTEND… INSTEAD OF REDUCE
One day I woke up with an email from BikeMi, the bike sharing system of the municipality of Milan. It said that due to several requests, they decided to extend the opening times of the service, opening one hour earlier (at 6 until 24). In a moment in which public transport is having a very bad time, with reduced service and people avoiding it for covid restrictions and fears, that was a very nice move from BikeMi. 1) Because bike remains the best way to move in this moment, to avoid social contact but at the same time to allow some physical exercise. 2) Because most importantly, it is a way to guarantee the right to move to those people which have to go out (for work, emergency reasons or whatever) but don’t have a private vehicle, and with the reduced public transport service find themselves in difficulty.
- THE POWER OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD TO REDUCE UNNECESSARY MOVEMENTS
Ok that’s maybe a cliché but… how many weeks, months, years have passed since the last time you have spoken with your neighbours last time, before covid(IF you have ever spoken with them)? Well … this made me discover a few things. For example, during Saturday mornings it is now common to start bricolage contests across balconies. And in one single morning, my flatmates and I had the occasion to i) borrow a drill (putting up that shelves under the bed since July); ii) kindly ask for few pieces of plants to transplant; iii) exchange food ingredients or little domestic objects (everything strictly following hygiene rules!). That made me think: it was surely saving some unnecessary online/offline shopping, saving time and km, and adding some social interaction in the act of sharing scarce resources (which is something so valuable in these times!).
As a last point, now that all the world is reduced to our four domestic walls, time and space are assuming a different meaning. Last week I received an unexpected message from a friend, which has always been a classic globetrotter. “In the end I thought that it is amazing to have time for myself. If there is only one life to live… what is the meaning of chasing a career and work all those hours to make that exotic trip or to buy nice things? At the end I don’t give a damn of all that. I mean, how beautiful is to go out to throw the trash??” OK, he was a little bit drunk. But the message was strong and I think it’s a good point of reflection 😊
To conclude. Buckminster Fuller said: “You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete”. It is maybe time to build that model?