Why ride a bike?

More and more people are looking for alternative, environmentally friendly transporation. I’m one of them.

For me, this means using what I already have, a 1988 mountain bike, to get to and from more of the places I need to be at. I did need a few things — a lock, a helmut, a seat pad, and a carrier on the back.

For the most part I just like it. It feels good. But also, over time, I’ve noticed a deepening of reasons for me to ride a bike.

1) Yes, gas is getting very expensive, now over $3 per gallon. Filling up our car now takes $50, a jolt from the $25 -30 that it was a few years ago. Riding my bike to my office, a distance of 10 miles each way, could save $10-50 per month.

2) Yes, a little exercise doesn’t hurt either. Well, actually it can. But it is a benefit that I’ve been wanting to weave into a more regular pattern anyway. Gotta get there — why not make it exercise.

3) What started as a desire to not pollute as much quickly spun to a new level — being in a more cooperative relationship with the environment. I’m not sure all of what that means, but what feels strong is a partnering realtionship. My little steps may not change the world that much, but they do change me. Health through exercise creates healthy muscles, lungs, etc. I also sense health through willingly collaborating might even be more lasting.

4) This one came through my first ride to my office, riding a bike invites a different relationship to time. American culture is so oriented to speed and efficiency. In so many ways, riding a bike is not efficient. It took me 45 minutes to get to work, without trying to race. In my car it would have taken half the time. My cell phone rang / vibrated three times while I was riding. That all had to wait. In my car, I would have answered and had those calls taken care of before arriving at work. I don’t think I can let go of all of the efficiency / speed connections here, but I have to say that I really liked the invitation to break through the speed obsession. It was nice to smell, see, hear in ways that I wouldn’t in my car.

I have a lot of reasons that bike riding is inconvenient. And some are more serious — even riding on the side of cars is dangerous. And let’s not forget the negative impact of inhaling exhaust. But in the end, the lasting impact for me is the commitment to collaborate and deliberately choose another kind of relationship to time. All beautiful surprises for the simple step of riding a bike.

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