This Bike Life
When you think of a 62 year-old woman from Bay Village, you probably don't think of Pat Kahl. Kahl who has never owned a car, goes everywhere by bike.
It all started when, at twenty-five, she flunked the vision test for her driver's license which led to a diagnosis of optic neuritis. After making a couple of deals with God, she resumed her travels in the saddle rather than in a front seat. Her life has been full, having raised three children and running a thriving daycare business from her cozy home.
"I don't give (biking) a second thought. I use it for everything."
Kahl admits that living within a mile of the grocery store, drug store, post office, church, etc., makes her Bay Village location ideal. Not to mention that Bay has no hills, no freeway, and mild traffic. But, that doesn't mean that she shies away from riding to more challenging destinations like Great Northern Mall, Avon, and Lakewood, among others.
Kahl seems unfazed by the fact that she raised three children without a car.
When they were young, her children rode their bikes with her or used the child seat. When her children were asked to go places with friends, Kahl admits that both she and her kids were embarrassed to have to ask for rides. But as they grew, this bump eased as her children earned money for cars or got rides from friends.
"People think it's a big deal;" she says, "the perception is that it's easier (to drive a car) an idea she refutes. "It may take longer but everybody's in a rush. Because I can't run to Target or run there, my lifestyle is so much simpler" a fact she doesn't regret. She grants that since she works from home, it's "easier...I just...roll down the stairs.". People are nice, too, offering rides, especially in the six to eight weeks of winter or when the wind is high that make biking impossible. "Darkness slows me down. I'll do it, but I don't like it."
Kahl says that she's often thought, "If I had the choice between never riding a bike again or driving, I'd choose a bike." She "loves riding (her) bike...it's freedom and you see so much more stuff on a bike" than driving at higher speeds in a car. "Stop and smell the roses," she advises. She says she can fit $60 worth of groceries in her saddlebags and wonders what else you need.
Kahl is an inspiring person on many levels, but her recent injury to her knee encapsulates her positive attitude. After playing on the floor with one of her young charges, she realized she'd twisted her knee badly. She couldn't walk with her knee injury but she got on her bike and "by pushing it, I fixed it!" citing the story as one other great thing about riding her bike - which, incidentally, was a gift thirteen years ago. It's a ten speed Giant, "but I'm not too good at shifting, so I keep it in fourth."