Do you hold your breath when a truck passes?

Sometimes I do.

Sometimes I hold my breath when a particularly exhausty van or truck rumbles past me … I have this instinct to avoid inhaling the fumes. However, this can be problematic on a bike, cuz you sometimes need every breath, so missing a few breaths can really put you behind.

I noticed this today when I found myself inadvertently keeping pace with both a delivery truck and a big ass tour bus, along with the rest of the motor vehicle traffic all heading down Mass Ave from Cambridge to Boston. …Man, waiting at red lights, staring down the tailpipe of a bus….. do you wonder why cyclists don’t like to stop at red lights? I kept wishing that I practiced more pranayama.  But the thing is I couldn’t hold my breath that long, so I had to sit there and breathe it in. Absorbing the “externality” from that truck and from that bus alternately for four intersections in a row between Beacon Street and Symphony. Torture.

This guy wrote a pretty good book on externalities in modern economics:

So, “not to get all hippy-dippy“, but sometimes I think about the environment while I am riding. Mostly I think about my own immediate environment (because I am selfish).

I think about the traffic I interact with; I think about the air I’m breathing; I watch the communities I ride through and sometimes, especially this time of year, I smell the flowers and I listen to the birdies sing.

I have been wondering about birds recently. Do birds have a tough time singing loud enough to overcome the noise of humans? I sorta started to feel bad for them having to sing so loud; I mean we are pretty damn loud as a species. Do you think the birds get sore throats trying to talk to each other over the din of traffic, much like we would if we were trying to have a conversation in a nightclub with a live death metal band playing?

Here was one little fellow I heard today. He was sitting high atop this power line/ telephone pole in Somerville. I was stopped at a light, sucking up some exhaust, and I heard him singing. He was a talented singer, I could tell. His voice was loud and clear and well articulated and it seemed he had learned some new songs: Car alarms.

Now, I have heard birds singing car alarm sounds before, but this little guy seemed to have brought his own style into the tune. Like that rare instance when you hear a new band do a good cover of an old Bob Dylan song. It was pretty sweet. And it was a long light so I listened to quite a bit of song from him and I thought “this boy is gonna win himself a damn fine mate with his song – good for him” …. that is if his mate can hear him above all our damn noise … boo

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