Bicycle traveler gauges nation’s sentiments – 1 person at a time

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A 60-year-old Massachusetts author and architect is traveling across the US by bicycle to ask the question: How will we live tomorrow?

Paul Fallon, as he appeared this summer in Kimball, Neb.

Paul Fallon, as he appeared this summer in Kimball, Neb.

Why do the polling by bicycle? Paul E. Fallon answers that question in a recent column he submitted to the Seattle Times:

“A guy on a bike is like a woman in pearls: My accessory earns me special attention. I supposed that people would be inclined to talk to a cyclist; I underestimated that by a wide margin. People love to talk to a guy on a bike. They seek him out. They open up. The bike sets me apart and triggers unconstrained responses to my questions.”

Anyone who has taken a road trip on an overloaded bicycle would agree that it’s easier to meet people that way. Maybe we seem less threatening on a bike, and perhaps we’re willing to open up more to other people after spending hours in the saddle.

Fallon set off on his year-long journey from Cambridge, MA, this spring and has passed through some 22 states so far, including Nebraska where he was interviewed by the Western Nebraska Observer. He plans to hit all 48 contiguous states in a 20,000-mile journey.

After visiting Seattle — a terminus for about half the cyclists that he’s met on his bike tour — he’s now heading south down the West Coast. Then he rides across the South and up the Atlantic Coast.

Fallon says he’s received answers to his “tomorrow” question from many people along the route. Some invite him to dinner; others to spend the night. Some write a message to his website.

Some of their responses are recorded at his website Some are optimistic; others not so much.

It’s a good question to ask, and it should get people thinking about the future they want to see. The follow-up question should be, “What are you doing today to help shape the future?”

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