Liberal moment

Last week, the Bee asked each candidate in the upcoming Davis City Council election, “Should Davis grow at 1 percent a year?” (In Davis politics, growth is the third rail.)

“Imagine if you grew at 1 percent a year,” Rob Roy said. “Eventually, your wife would start calling you fat.”

Tossing out the fact that perpetual girth growth would eventually cause said wife to hire a crane to lower your carcass into a (probably early) grave, it got me thinking—I like political straight talk, but was Roy calling my kid obese? Since popping out of the womb a little over a year ago, my daughter Kate has grown like unchecked sprawl: 400 percent. Her nickname should be Elk Grove.

According to her pediatrician, Kate, at 20.5 lbs, is right on target in terms of growth, if a tad on the smaller side. More important is that by passing the one-year mark, Kate now has the neck strength to rock a bicycle helmet. In Davis, Bicycle Capital of the Paved World, I assumed this was a rite of passage akin to a bar mitzvah on a kibbutz.

So last week, I took Kate to buy a helmet and a child seat. Even though the doctor said she has a perfectly average-sized head, Kate’s command center seems—sizewise, at least (gotta be careful here as she can already read this)—not much bigger than a grapefruit. We hit four different shops before finding a brain bucket tiny enough to comfortably cradle her noggin.

Then we learned that bike seats are passé. The thing for cycling moms and dads to do is drag their kids down the street in a two-wheeled trailer. According to the salesperson, it feels more stable than a traditional bike-mounted child seat. Me, I’m no sucker for safety trends. Nor am I a rickshaw driver. Kate wants to ride, she rides up top with the help.

It just so happened that our first-ever bike ride coincided with the ceremonial opening of Davis’ newest new bicycle tunnel (undercrossing, to be exact). So, freshly appointed, we joined a 30-strong parade of folks en route to behold the city’s newest bike-friendly feature in all its beautifully landscaped, $2 million glory.

Once there, the mayor and Lycra-clad leader of the Davis Bike Club gave speeches congratulating Davis for its commitment to cycling and the environment, and the Davis Department of Public Works doled out cookies and lemonade. As Kate and I sat there, she in her new pink helmet that was constantly slipping over her chocolate-chip-covered face, I realized we were living the ultimate liberal moment: enjoying public handouts while patting ourselves on the back for our progressiveness. Plus, we even had a touch of self-flagellation, as the leader of the bike club chided residents for the city’s declining number of miles rode per capita.

After the photo op and the ceremonial ribbon-cutting (not a ribbon but actually a string of bicycle inner tubes, in a nice touch), Kate and I joined the others happily pedaling through our latest civic amenity. We’ll enjoy it while we can: If she keeps up her growth rate, I’m going to have to switch to a trailer. A horse trailer.