Airports and Cycling

This week, I won’t be philosophizing so much, just recovering from a week of teaching 100 twelve-year olds how to breakdance. Tomorrow’s the last day, and as much as I love teaching, it’s so intense that I’m looking forward to the break. I could never imagine teaching all day with as much energy as I do it, for 50 weeks in a year. That in itself is an interesting experience to think about – to do something that’s fun and intense, that’s both energizing and draining. I feel spent, but accomplished. I feel proud to think that I might have made a difference, but also acknowledge that maybe nothing will result of what we (the students and I) have created all week. There was a breadth of attitudes – total excitement, utter bewilderment, complete apathy, extreme anxiety, and everything in between. But as I promised before, I want to continue sharing things that I’ve seen during my travels in January & February.

I’ve been to quite a few airports in my life. The smallest ones have been in Halifax, Hobart, and Kingston. And then the biggest – many of them are just too big. A lot of people seem to like Vancouver’s airport, but I honestly think they’re all more or less the same. Beijing’s airport might look a bit different, Heathrow might be 5 separate buildings in an area the size of a small city, but most of them are simply gigantic glass football fields.

Dubai’s airport might be filled with million dollar cars and enough wealthy business people to buy out the debt of a country, but so far the most amazing thing I’ve seen in an airport has got to be the charging stations in the Brussels airport., simply because you need to pedal to power your gear. And what was even better was the fact that people were actually using it. I did a double take when I saw this stylish businesswoman pedaling and using her phone. I was pretty amazed by the seeming normalcy of it.

Given what I know about Europe though, it makes sense. More people use a bicycle here compared to North America. Bikes are especially popular in the Netherlands, where “bikes are king…pedestrians and cars all stop for bikes”. So using a bicycle to power your devices doesn’t seem so unusual. I’d love to get some preflight exercise. Sadly, I could imagine the stations being very empty in a North American airport, given how car-dependent the culture is. There were people from San Diego I had met in Japan once who told me about how “impossible” it is to get anywhere by public transit, and how necessary it is to use a car. It’s instinctual for me to criticize this pattern of living, but I know I need to understand more. Maybe I’m fine with cycling everywhere and living more centrally, but what is it about everyone else that makes them want to perpetuate this pattern of urban sprawl? I would love to hear what you think – leave a comment!

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