When its a beautiful summer day sometimes i just need an excuse to get out of my house and into that sun. Like I have done many times before, I take that journey across town to the grocery store to get a soda, or magzine, it doesnt matter. first I start by opening the garage door and backing out my… bycicle. You see, I believe in biking. But not for all those goody good reasons: “its good for the environment, you get excersize, etc.” Driving a honda civic, I already do enough for the environment. Excerzie is easy to come by with a gym membership. I ride my bike when I could easily drive for one reason: I want to enjoy the trip.
Forced by two working, busy parents, I had to ride my bike to and from school all the way through elementary and middle school. Right when I began highschool, my family moved and I was given the steriotypical teenage junker to drive to school and around town. Yet, after a few years of living in this new place, to me, it still had essentially no personality. I could easily recall the features of the town I grew up in: the sloping hills, ripe fruit trees, style of houses, even which sidewalks had the biggest drop offs so i could get huge air on my bike. The moment i realized what was going on is when i became a believer. Riding a bike is more than a means of transportation, its a way of having a conversation with the town you live in.
The way you move about your surroundings has curious effects on what you pay attention to. I once observed a girl in a wheel chair swerve all over the perfectly straight side walk we were both walking on. It took me a second, but i realized she was moving like that to avoid the numeroud cracks and rocks in her path. Unnoticed by me, I just stepped over them. Driving vs. biking has the same effect except magnified. In your car, you are encased in a metal shell, sealed from the outside. Surroundings fly past you at 40+ mph, while you only care about your speed, the AC and what music is playing. When we drive our cars, we miss so many details! You wouldn’t think so, but some people put a rediculous ammount of time and effort into their lawn. When all you worry about is not hitting small children, a street full of beautiful blooming dogwood trees goes unbeheld. At a stop sign, you pay attention to getting that rolling stop just right instead of recognising that all the streets in your neighborhood are named after famous bodies of water. You can only notice these subtleties when you are riding your bike.
I’m not going to try and make some grand generalization about how ‘sad’ it is that nobody takes their bike any more, because lets face it, cars are extremely fast and convienient at all times. I’m also not going to take it a step further and say walking is better than biking, because walking is just too slow. But, if you want to get to know the person around you at all times and make the journey more than the time inbetween destinations, then you should believe in biking too.
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