Cycling is normal. Kind of.
That is my reason why I am riding my bicycle. Because it is so normal just to put your hat on, grab the bike, and bring it out all the way down from the third floor.
It is hot and humid outside. Early summer morning. Real joy to pedal on such a sunny day! Nature is all around you; it is so alive although I am in the middle of this sleeping city – its 6 am. Those who are not in their sleepy mode can hear how this giant city is waking up. Birds are singing, chattering with one another. People and their cars cannot suppress that – a few cars cannot equal hundreds of our chirruping neighbors, right? Can you notice that in the midst of your morning rush?
Or what to do when it is raining outside? Just put on some rain gear and grab the bike. Same chirruping chorus just accompanied with the symphony of rain. Wait, apparently rain is louder than all the birds and those few cars out there. The only thing you hear now is how raindrops are hitting the surface of the street or your jacket hood; favorite music to my years nevertheless.
So how does bicycle riding get extreme?
In the USA, where only less than 2% of total population ride bikes regularly?
I am afraid it is the same in any other country outside major urban area. Maybe there are some noticeable exceptions somewhere in northern Europe. Maybe.
And why is it not that normal to ride a bicycle outside the bike trail? Why is it rather eccentric to continue using bicycle as a main transport for getting around once you are eligible for your driver’s license? Is it some kind of a social status question? Does riding bicycle limit your commuting choices? Is it physically challenging or is it simply something that people normally don’t do on the regular basis? In the streets between cars and busses, and trucks, no bike lanes, sweating, and all stressed out? – come on dude, grow up! It is DANGEROUS!
NO, I still think bicycle is more normal mode of transportation especially in the city. Statistically it is less dangerous, it is better for your health, it is some 20 times (!!!) cheaper than driving a car. Best part that riding bicycle improves your powers of creative thinking. Oh I love this king of statistics. Jokes aside, my personal experience just confirms this data.
I would argue that main reason for avoiding bicycle is some kind of social stigma where you simple choose to act like majority around you acts. Cycling is not cool, unpractical and dangerous? If that’s the perception around, you rarely will put some effort in testing ideas that are rejected by majority of your peers.
This ignorance limits us more than we even could think of. I guess it is part of human nature to reject lots of things that requires more direct effort or physical activity in comparison to other more “convenient” alternatives.
It does not matter that driving a car or watching TV kills you without you even noticing it.
How come is that riding a bicycle helps you to live longer, directly and indirectly? First it is a simple exercise that literally improves your health. Far more importantly it keeps you more attached to the environment you live in.
Pedaling not only helps you beat the city traffic jams it simultaneously lets you live little bit slower. While riding bicycle you have more time to acquaintance with the rout you travelling. In just few rides you are familiar with the richness the surroundings are offering you.
I know the shades and all the curves I am pedaling through. I meet familiar faces and greet the neighbors who live even five miles away. Sometimes I get to chat with the people I encounter while waiting at traffic lights. Sometimes I even get my hat blown off while pedaling against the wind. Kind people stop their cars to wait while I pick it up. This puts a big smile on everybody’s face. Once, I remember, my hat was picked up by a pleasant lady who just happened to get out of her parked car. She was smiling and I thanked her. All these memories are possible while you live slowly, and bicycling gives you a plenty of time to absorb your surroundings. It is easy and it is normal just to stay in touch with everything and everybody while you are on the move. Is all that possible while driving a car I wonder?
For me bicycle is not only a mode of effective transportation but more importantly it is a tool for improving my health, my social catalyst, a platform for quality time I can spend with myself. It allows me to collect my thoughts, to re-evaluate my schedule and other obligations. Last but not least it gives me time to listen to my favorite radio shows.
Even little rides become big experience you can share with your dear ones. It binds people together; it slows you down a bit thus allowing you to get more out of this fast moving world. Or take less if you choose. It is so normal to have this choice.
Just think about it. And ride safe.