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Big wheels in town — even after the parade

By lryan
Friday, July 3rd, 2009 at 10:02 am in Uncategorized.

A few months ago during a protest outside City Hall a curious onlooker passed by. While people waved their signs and chanted against the latest development proposal for Alameda Point, the onlooker slowed down his vehicle, which he moved forward and backward a couple of feet to remain relatively stationary so he could get a good look.

He was on a unicycle.

A few weeks later, while waiting for the light to change at Oak Street and Santa Clara Avenue, a guy wheeled quietly around the corner on the sidewalk and headed northbound on Oak Street.

He was on a Segway.

While driving down Fernside Boulevard, two adults and two children traveled along the bike path. All four of them were pedaling the same vehicle. I don’t know what it’s called, but it had a surrey on top and a bench seat in the front and back. It looked like a Rickshaw but without the sole peddler in a bike in the front.

And a few days ago, while police were busy directing traffic after a van rolled onto its side in front of the police department, a guy passed by on one of those bicycles with the huge wheels in front.

He was riding a high-wheeler.

Add to those eye-catching ways to get around the tiny, egg-shaped electric cars, the vintage Fords and Chevys and even the sprinkling of Model T’s that still make appearances on the streets.

It’s great to live here, for many reasons, but Alameda’s penchant for things quirky and fun must be equally great for people who don’t live here. I don’t recall seeing so many colorful means of transportation while visiting San Leandro, Oakland, Hayward or even Berkeley. Imagine being a first-timer in Alameda and seeing all of this alternative-to-autos action. You might think you missed an eco-parade and these were among the entries.

Whether or not these folks choose these vehicles with a thought about their non-polluting (both air-wise and noise-wise) qualities or they just do it for fun, seeing them is a bright spot in not-so-bright times. It’s easy to get bogged down from a relentless stream of bad news and to get rattled by so much uncertainty. But live scenes of high-wheeled granny bicyclists and unicycle riders and Model T drivers and families pedaling canopy-topped carriages are great distractions that we can really use these days.

Happy summer, everyone.

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