The above picture is Pilgrim-St. Luke's UCC, the church of which I am a member. I love taking pictures of old Buffalo buildings--especially churches--but that's not what this post is about. It's about what I was thinking as I pedaled to church this morning.
It was a beautiful autumn morning...couldn't have been any nicer; you can see this in the above photo. The church is about 2 miles/3.2km from my house and it takes just a few minutes to get there. I pedal there nearly every Sunday, and some evenings during the week; rain or shine, snow or not, year round. This simple trip can be used as an example for my everyday travels.
Over the past years--decade--I've consciously molded my life so that nearly everything I need on a daily basis is within walking/biking distance. I've always enjoyed walking and biking over car travel--even in my early to mid-twenties when I was a suburbanite and accepted the car as a necessity--but now it's a conscious decision. I live less than a mile/kilometer from where I work, the health club where I swim is about a mile/1.6km away, my son's mom is 1 mile/1.6km, grocery stores are (depending on which I go to) either 3/4 of a mile/1.2km or 2 miles/3.2km. In fact, the neighborhood in which I live--Allentown--is considered a "walker's paradise" by walkscore. And this is what I was thinking about as I pedaled to church earlier today on a brilliantly sunny autumn morning.
But I'm getting off topic--something I tend to do--because the above info is more about how easy it is to use a bike for everyday transport, but not really about why I choose to do it when I can afford a car. And this brings me to my next mini-topic...my car, or more specifically, my truck.
I've mentioned multiple times on this blog--so many times that I am getting tired of hearing myself state it--that I am not car-free but I am car-lite. I own a 12-year-old Ford Ranger that I don't use very often. I use it more in the harsh winter months than I do other times, but still not that often (I plan on being car-free in two years...but by that time we all may be car-free, at least the gas/petrol powered type). Anyhow, the reason I mention this is that this is the first reason I choose to ride a bike; not the first on my personal list but it may be one to convince a non-biker to start riding a bike: Money! Yesterday I put $20USD/$14.43EUR in gas/petrol in my truck for only the second time in the past 3 months! Riding a bike saves me money, and it could you too...did I draw you in yet? I hope so, but this still is not a main reason that I choose to ride a bike.
Simply said, I mostly choose to ride a bike because I really enjoy it. That's it. I enjoy how it feels to have the wind on my face, summer or winter, rain or shine. I like that I create my own motion, that I am both the motor and the cargo. Yes, riding a bike is "green," and this is the reason most people think I do it (or they think I can't afford a car), but to me this is more of a result of my riding rather than a reason that I do it. When I'm on a bike I feel I am an active participant in my surroundings/environment.
If you've been to this blog before you know that a person can carry anything they need on a bike. This is another one of my favorite reasons...I get a sense of accomplishment when when I carry things on my bike(s)...but mostly I just think it's fun.
Being an active participant in my surroundings, pedaling and coasting, I get to see things and easily stop and take pictures if I like (below are a few examples of what I saw today; click here for a few more). And riding a bike also offers me the best parking spaces...when I go to the health club (where many people drive cars to ride a stationary bike) I can pull straight up to the front door while others wait in their cars for parking spaces. This may sound a bit sarcastic, and I don't mean it to be, but it is true. And I haven't mentioned the physical benefits of riding a bike...because they are obvious and need no mention. OK, I'll just say this, some mornings when I am tired and the wind is blowing against me (isn't it always when you are tired?) the short jaunt to work not only wakes me up but gives me a mini-aerobic workout.
I could go on and on (as could any cyclist) but I won't. I'll just say that to me there is nothing like standing on the pedals with the wind to my back and silently coasting down a quiet city street at night...it really does make me feel alive.
But I guess the real reason I choose to drag bikes up and down my front porch everyday and straddle my creaky middle-aged body on them is this...there is no reason I shouldn't. Riding a bike to me is transportation, but it's also joy and empowerment.
The video below I've posted a few times in the past but not in a while. I love what it has to say. It could be me narrating it, but it's not (and yes, like he, I sometimes spread my arms out like airplane wings). If you've not seen it yet I hope you spend the 59 seconds to watch it. In the meantime, straddle a bike and ride...you won't regret it.