I want to be Sarah Wilson. She writes about crazy, awesome stuff, and no matter what it is, I always want to read it. Partly a great writing voice, partly a great subject.
This semester for a course called “Literary Non-Fiction”, one of my assessment tasks is to write a piece of “immersion journalism” – this is where you get into something and fully immerse yourself. Most often, this involves fly-on-the-wall hanging around a certain thing or person for a long time, then writing about it. But one branch of this practice is “participatory,” and this is what Sarah Wilson does, and what I plan to do.
Last week, a friend’s status update appeared on my Facebook news feed expressing his disgust at the concept of a “No Gas Day”, encouraging people to get rid of their cars permanently, and live our their protest every day by riding or taking public transport.
This coincided with the week of the worst public transport rides I’ve ever been on – I don’t drive, I only PT everywhere. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s rarely on time, and prone to changes, but what I can’t deal with is being as small as I am and being squashed by lots of people. Squashed between too many inconsiderate people at peak hour, I was very close to having a panic attack. When I got off that tram I was incredibly angry and upset, and thought “F*ck This. Clearly public transport isn’t a good idea either. What about riding?”
So, would riding be feasible? I’m going to Sarah Wilson it on up, and see if I can test this idea at its extreme, by ONLY riding for a week, and then writing about it.
It seems like a simple enough idea, which many people see as too hard. I want to know if it would be a whole lifestyle change (for me, who hasn’t ridden in about 8 years and is slightly overweight, pretty unfit), whether the attitude on the roads from drivers and/or other cyclists (is it cliquey?) is an obstacle, or if it really is as easy as everyone just jumping on their pushie. It’s an article I know I’d like to read.
Wish me luck!
20/03/2011 at 8:59 am
i love sarah wilson.
21/03/2011 at 3:30 pm
21/03/2011 at 4:10 am
Ahh I read Sarah Wilson in the Sunday Life age, pretty interesting writer and I like the challenges she takes up. I admire that! Any immersive journalism is a great read I reckon.
I know exactly what you’re saying about public transport, its pretty shit sometimes. Good luck with the bike-riding though!!
21/03/2011 at 3:30 pm
She is great, isn’t she?
Thanks for the well-wishes, Shan!
21/03/2011 at 9:45 am
I’ve been riding to uni every day for the past three weeks. It wasn’t out of any noble purpose: I just didn’t have the money to buy a parking permit. I’ve found it to be really quite nice. I’m less sluggish in the mornings (I leave the house at around 7), and I’ve feel a bit better about my fitness levels.
The only downside is that Perth drivers have apparently never encountered such an advanced mechanism as a bicycle, and tend to do one of two things: dangerous avoidance techniques such as swerving around me into oncoming traffic, or aggressive overtaking despite any obstacles such as roundabouts rendering this a somewhat homicidal manoeuvre. But as long as I have my fingers constantly hovering near the brakes, it’s not so hard to navigate the morning traffic.
Anyway, good luck! (:
21/03/2011 at 3:29 pm
Great, Phill! From all Melbournian reports, our drivers are much the same. A plague of sudden-door-openers, apparently – looking forward to it!
My motivations are much the same – I could save myself $20 a week by riding instead of PT. Worth it? Possibly. We’ll see. If I don’t get killed by oncoming traffic 🙂