Whether it’s National Bike Month or not, it’s always a good idea to ride your bike. You can look at it from an environmental position (many have). Or you can look at it as a health benefit. You could also just be a bike enthusiast who has always been a gearhead of sorts. You might be a combination of all of these.
I LOVE my bike. But it’s not just the actual physical bike. It’s what it represents. It’s a little bit more than the examples I’ve given above.
When you ride your bike it’s just you and your legs. You become small and able to fit through alleyways, in between curbs, in gutters, and behind businesses. Even though, yes, you should always obey traffic laws for safety purposes, you have MANY other navigation options at your disposal. You and your bike are slim and can fit where cars don’t. Can you lift your car? No? You CAN lift your bike. Can you pull your car up to the doorway of a restaurant and leave it there? No? You can with your bike. When you ride your bike, you can swoop in, stealth-like, and land exactly where you need to be. You can be quick and nimble and react quickly to change direction. You don’t have the heavy weight of a ton of steel under your feet.
When you ride your bike, you have 360 degree vision. You can look around and see the entire horizon. Buildings, trees, people and neighborhoods come into view. Every smell, good or bad, can reach you without a barrier. Your senses are enmeshed with the environment. The wind isn’t just something you see move the trees from a window. Instead, the wind is on your back, pushing you forward. Or the wind is something to lean into, or even to dread. The surface of the road is no longer a flat plain. When you ride your bike, every bump, fissure, puddle and spill is visible, directly beneath you. The surface has dimension and texture.
When you stop at a traffic light, you can look around you. People walking on the sidewalk might even say hello. You start to understand how long it takes the sun to set. You could be out of breath or in rhythm with your movement but you can hear and feel yourself breathing.
When you ride your bike, you walk out the door, get on the seat, and move. There are no keys or a back-up camera. You don’t have to worry about hitting someone you might not see til the last second. The most expensive repair might cost you a hundred dollars and most repairs you can do yourself. You’ll never run out of gas even though you might get a flat tire that you can fix yourself with a car jack.
With a bike, there’s no parking space or paid parking meters, just somewhere you can stash it and lock it safely. You learn to carry less and dress in clothes that move with you. You might even be more apt to buy clothes made of natural fibers that breathe without getting too smelly.
Convinced? Then, ride your bike.
We could continue to go over all the climate impact benefits of riding your bike, but you can find that somewhere else. The REAL benefits you’ll find when you ride your bike are about how you feel and what you learn in the process.