Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NOT picking up hitchhikers is illegal!

Hitchhiking is a way of life on Bowen Island. Before we had busses, and even back before Wes's taxi ran hither and yon, folks stuck out a thumb to hitch a ride to where they were going. Early on in my residency on our rock I learned that you never wave to a driver who is going the same way as you, because they will almost always stop and ask if you need a ride.

When a friend of mine moved to Bowen a few years ago, he was without a car and he hitched to the Building Centre to buy an axe. When he emerged, he was nervous about hitching a ride with a new axe and so he walked all the way back home. When he started telling this story several long time islanders laughed and said that he should have thumbed a ride. They said he would have had a better chance of getting a ride because people would have been curious to see his new axe.

That's how it is. Or at least how it HAS been.

These days people are more reticent to pick up hitchhikers for whatever reason. I think it's about new folks coming to the island and not knowing everyone and not used to the culture of letting people ride with you. But hitch hiking remains a way of life for many without cars - young people, older people who can't drive, and others, and its an important part of our rural and informal transportation system. The bus doesn't go everywhere on the island and Wes doesn't drive so the thumb is the way to go.

Now a new group on Bowen has emerged to make hitch hiking and ride sharing a more organized affair. Bowen LIFT is out to enhance our traditional cultural practices for getting around. Give them a visit, download a sign and get with the program!