questions for bicyclists, answers for everyone

Shouldn’t bicycles get out of the way of cars?  We are susceptible to a trick of the mind that creates second classes to justify our priority, dominance, and greed.  No, there is no reason why bicycles should be subservient to cars.  I remember when I was truck driving many truckers liked to think they had priority on the road as workers, keeping America moving, but in reality truckers have even more responsibility to take care of other road users since trucks have so much weight and power.  The same thing is true on shared use paths, where bicycles may be the fastest, but have to yield and respect the pace of pedestrians and equestrians.  More power equates to increased responsibility.  The requirement for respectful attitudes to assume that additional responsibility increases directly proportional to power.  Freedom is contingent upon exercising our power within limits, abiding by rules with discipline, and all freedom is dependent on protecting the freedom of our neighbors.  All the advertisers selling cars don’t find this a huge selling point, but it is true.  No one should ever be driving a car feeling unchecked power, it is a huge responsibility!  And same for bicycling, I am on the lookout for kids playing on the street, walkers, pets, wild animals, runners, other bicyclists, skateboarders, inline skaters, cars, utility and maintenance workers, emergency personnel, tourists pulled over to watch wildlife, ask directions or check out the scenery, you name it.  In this new era of global society everyone travels first class.  As more countries around the world pick up their use of the automobile, the United States has an obligation to become a leader in showing how shared roads can keep intact the primacy of traditional and basic, cost effective, and efficient modes of moving including biking and walking.  If we don’t have good access to safe and comfortable walking and bicycling in our everyday lives, the motor vehicle driving experience will be degraded too.  The roads will be a dog eat dog madhouse.  Here’s our chance to be a global leader for good.  Good walking and biking is primary and makes everybody a winner.

Is bicycling painful?  As the Buddha said life is suffering.  Suffering on a bike makes you stronger.  I like the feeling better after a long bike ride than the way my body feels after a long car ride.  The main difference is once you get off the bike you immediately begin recovering and rebuilding stronger, while the car ride leaves you in a weakened state, deeper in a hole you have to dig out of with exercise and movement to regain your elasticity and flexibility.  The other thing about bicycling is it makes me feel so alive.  The intimacy of the weather on the skin, the measure of the breeze against your body, even the storms are unforgettable.  It makes me feel so alive and my memories so bright knowing what I did on the bike today was a very sensual thing.  It is immediate living!  A very gratifying activity.  Plus the endorphins and preservation of youth one derives from bicycling are very powerful and uplifting.  There is nothing like feeling strong.  It is so empowering realizing what you can do with your own power.  Interestingly one gains as much mental confidence and strength through bicycling as physical robustness. Health=Wealth.  Bicyclists are rich $$$

Why do you ride on busy roads?  For the same reason I sometimes drive my car on busy roads.  I want to get somewhere and this is the best route for me.  We wouldn’t say someone who is navigating Friday afternoon rush hour driving their car to an occasion is endangering themselves with that choice, and we should give the same benefit of the doubt to bicyclists, or any other mode of transportation.  I often hear bicyclists referred to as risk takers.  Not true, at least that part of the population that bicycles should not be taken to represent all cyclists.  It is a misconception to think that the reasons people ride bikes for are less important than the reasons people drive cars for.  And in the end, the low impact, small footprint, efficient and cost effective nature that is inherent to bicycling is hard to beat, and terribly hard to argue against if you are using your reasoning and critical thinking faculties without preconceptions or bias.  Not everybody has to bicycle but we can show respect for the mode that people choose or need to use to move around by, and not look down upon one mode over another.

Isn’t bicycling just an elitist sport?  I started out as a bicyclist for economic reasons–I didn’t own a car, cars are so expensive!–and I loved commuting and errand running so much that I started to do bonus miles on my days off.  I didn’t plan to fall in love with bicycling.  Bicycling is for everybody that wants to try it, for school children, families, commuters of all kinds from business people to house painters to political leaders, for social rides, touring scenic roads, taking a vacation from town from your front doorstep on a Saturday morning.  It just so happens to be a carbon free vacation, too!  Even the elite bicyclists are everyday normal people, and usually use the commute as the backbone of their engagement with the sport.  Long after I’m done racing I will still be riding to meet everyday needs when bicycling makes good sense for any given trip.

Are bicyclists whimps?  Huh, oh, I think I know what you are asking.  I look different because I’m skinny, eh, not like a stereotypical image of a masculine puffy chested man.  Bicycling strengthens the strongest muscle in our bodies, the human heart.  Everything runs off the heart, so we get more blood to the brain, everywhere the circulatory system reaches, every part of the body.  This is a good thing because all the important systems in our bodies run on blood, especially our love!  Even though I don’t have big muscles in my arms, I imagine I could kick like a mule.  Being a bicyclist is just another version of what it means to be normal.  We are all normal, we are all ok.  There is no room for meanspiritedness anymore.











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