Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Bad

2 Jul

Heat waves are great for one thing. I mean, I’m sure they’re great for something, right? I just can’t think of anything. I guess if you like to sweat and you like to feel like you’ve peed in your pants, scorching hot days are awesome. This morning I ran a mile and a half to beat the heat–this was at 5:15–and, amazingly, it was amazingly hot.

After my run I jumped on the road bike and sped the 1.8 miles to Panera. Beginning today I plan on keeping track of my transportation miles. At some point on some blog, I did the same thing. Or maybe I simply kept track on paper. Don’t remember. Anyway, the goal is to not drive or even ride in an automobile as much as I can get away with. Last night six people piled into a car to travel the 1.8 miles to a Mexican restaurant near where I am now. I left on my bike as they were gathering at the door and I beat them. Of course, they didn’t realize a race was going on, but the Olympics is beginning soon and I’m in a competitive mood.

I’m doing this no drive-bike heavy thing for four reasons:

  • My Body
  • My Sanity
  • To have fun
  • To promote the awesomeness of alternative transportation.

My Body. Exercise is good, right? Most of us don’t get enough. For me to get in a workout and get around town at the same time is unbeatable. I might have been a little sweaty walking in to La Casa last night, but I felt great. No matter how I’m feeling before, after a quick bike ride (or a jog), I feel good. Of course, that’s one of the best reasons to exercise daily. It’s a fast-acting anti-depressant, a drug-free high.

My Sanity. Shit, I already covered some of what I meant by “sanity” in the previous paragraph. Oh well. In my opinion, driving a car is a bit depressing. I’m on constant watch for crappy drivers because they’re EVERYWHERE. How do I know this? Because I’m one of them. I’m not embarrassed about that. It’s not that I’m an aggressive driver, but I tend to make some shaky decisions. So, yeah, be thankful I’m not driving this summer. Driving does nothing for my body or mind. I walk more when I’m using the bus and I read or relax while getting around. I feel safer and I don’t have to worry about gas or running over pedestrians.

To have fun. Riding a bike is as fun for me now as it was when I first learned. Why do most kids learn to ride at 6, 7 years old when their bodies and brains are mature enough to accomplish such a feat? Not to get around or to change the world, but because it’s loads of fun. If you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, go to a local bike shop and spend at least $300 on a nice one after being properly fitted. I think Target has some decent bikes, but they don’t have multiple sizes of each model. One size fits all? Uh, no, obviously, humans come in all sizes. If you’re used to the $99 walmart model, you’ll be thrilled with a better bike.

To promote the awesomeness of alternative transportation. There’s a guy in town who gets around by bike exclusively. And this is a “normal” guy. He’s not homeless; he’s not a drunk with six DUIs; and he’s not too poor for a car. Well shit, now I feel bad–nothing against people down on their luck, but this guy is diffferent because he chooses to transport himself by bike, leaving the car in the garage. Often, I see this other rough guy on a cheap bike in acid-washed jeans and a dirty t-shirt and I can almost guarantee that he would be driving if he could. Some people look pissed that they have to ride a bike.

My point is, this guy (not the homeless-looking one) is an inspiration to me and I want to inspire others, to show that it’s easy and fun to get around by bicycle. Last night, I was seen on my bike wearing a backpack with a loaf of bread sticking out. In the past I hauled groceries with a bike trailer. I have large panniers on two bikes that come in handy for carrying everything from library books to groceries. I carry folding chairs to the park with my recumbent trike to watch the Municipal Band. People see me doing this who have never considered using a bicycle for short trips.

Links! This first essay is especially well-written and gets to the heart of why bicycles are better than cars in many ways.

So Why Ride a Bicycle?

Top 10 Reasons to Bike Instead of Drive

10 Reasons to Bike Instead of Drive (Don’t look at the photo of the five guys in spandex. Consider yourself warned.)

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