Kaieteur News- This time, I was in one of the yellow cabs proceeding eastwards along Church Street. At the junction of Camp Street, the driver braked and rolled to a stop as the traffic signal was red.
It was a long wait, which allowed the roving eye to take in the beautiful tree-lined avenue on Camp Street, cool and inviting for a stroll in the afternoon. Ahead lay the Indian Monument Gardens caged behind a huge fence and inaccessible to the general public in the Garden City.
There were not many cars at that time of the day but those that passed did so at a fast pace. Just as the light directing the cab was about to indicate green, a bicycle came darting along Camp Street heading north across the junction. Instead of proceeding across the road, it swung behind the yellow cab. The rider showed great dexterity, but it was not his skill that caught my eye but rather the fact that he had a passenger on the tow bar. It was a young girl, no doubt his girlfriend.
You do not see that very much in Guyana – boy towing girl on a bicycle. The girl seemed happy to be with the boy never mind her behind must have been sore from sitting so long on the cycle. They went along their merry way and I went along mine, but the incident never quite left my thoughts.
With the high prices for fuel and a city over congested with vehicles, bicycles would seem to be a better option to get around the heavy vehicular traffic. Instead, however, of increased cycling, the very opposite is happening. More and more persons are using public transport to get around. More and more persons are buying their own cars even though bicycles can be had very cheaply.
The few cyclists you see are usually young boys. You hardly ever see, not even in the villages, anymore, boys towing girls. And yet that used to be a feature of our growing up in Guyana in the day. Girls were never ashamed to hitch a ride on a bicycle, and in fact, many of them owned their own bicycles and would go for enjoyable rides to the foreshore each afternoon.
The sight of that young man towing his girlfriend on a bicycle was therefore a flashback in time. It rolled back the years to an era when this was a regular sight in Guyana.
A few days later after the sight of the couple on the bicycle, I was chatting with some fashionably dressed young ladies, none of whom was in their twenties and none of whom was married. I asked them generally whether they ever rode on a bicycle bar. They did not seem to know what I was talking about.
When I explained that on male cycles, between the saddle and the handle, there is usually attached a metal bar which acts as a passenger seat, this was news to all of these young ladies. They never knew about this. It was a revelation to them.
They also did not know that there used to be a time when girls would move around with their boyfriends on these bicycles, even travelling miles to go to a wedding on a bicycle. They found it very interesting and amusing and wanted to hear more about the old days when bicycles ruled the local transportation world. I told them what I could have remembered and asked them to question their parents. They excitedly said they would. I then asked them whether they would allow their boyfriends to transport them around their neighbourhood on a bicycle.
“Noooooo!” was the unanimous answer. I told them it was fun and they would enjoy each other’s company. They looked at me as if I was nuts.
I then asked them if Usher came to Guyana and offered them a ride on a bicycle, if they would accept.
One of them said, “Usher would ride in a limousine, not a bicycle.”
They asked me to tell them some more bicycle tales. So I told a tale I had read before about a man who was towing his wife on a carrier behind the saddle, which meant that she was seated behind him.
Suddenly, a police patrol pulled up and the cop inside said, “Hey buddy, your wife fell off about a mile back.”
“Oh,” said the man, “for a while I thought that I had gone deaf!”
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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