SHE SAYS, "So, um, do you want a ride home?"
I say, "Well, I have my bicycle. I'll be fine."
She says, "It could fit in my trunk..."
I started dating in January, after living with the same person for more than 25 years. My ex-wife was not someone who loved biking, and while it wasn't a part of why we went our separate ways, it was a missing piece of what I wanted in a relationship. If I learned one thing from the transition to being single, it was to be true to myself.
I took that to heart when a friend persuaded me to jump into the online dating scene. But if the whole idea of dating was scary, dating without a car was doubly so. Would anyone go out with me? Would I have to hang out at bike events to find a date? Do I already know everyone in the bicycle community?
I pedaled on despite these misgivings. My OkCupid profile announced it to the world: I'm car-free. (Think of it like being upfront about being sex-positive—I was bike-positive.)
My profile featured lines like: "On a typical Friday night I am relaxing with a good glass of wine and eating a simple pasta. Ready to go for a bike ride in the morning." I listed riding as one of the top things I couldn't live without (right behind dark chocolate).
Right away, new options opened up for me. Rather than being a barrier to socializing, bicycling became an interesting, liberating opportunity. After all, I wanted to find someone who was a perfect match. Part of that match had to be openness to living a car-free life. At least car-light.
On OkCupid I asked: "Could you go out with someone who doesn't own a car?" (The website allows you to designate certain questions as higher priority, which I did.) It turned out bicycling was a big part of many women's profiles.
On dates, bikes helped to narrow my options. It didn't take long to find out who was excited to go on a date by bicycle and make it part of the experience. About an hour into one early date, a woman said, "I'm surprised you haven't mentioned bicycles." Do other people talk about their cars? Bikes are a huge part of my life—they're my job—but I have other important things that I talk about and do.
I experienced some wonderful moments. There was a morning spent laughing on a tandem, new parks and neighborhoods explored from the saddle. The first kiss where our helmets clinked; the third date that kept going on from one location to another—so easy by bicycle, almost unimaginable in two cars.
And it all worked out. I'm happy to say my experiences have led me to find love and that I'm happier than I've ever been. Maybe I'm lucky (that's okay by me), but I think it helped to be confident, forward, and true to myself.
Of course, having a bike that can fit in the trunk never hurts.
Rob Sadowsky is the executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, the state's largest bike advocacy organization.