Why do you ride?

Chief Sealth Trail

I ride a bike because sometimes, the most direct route by bike looks like this.

Both Dan Bertolet and Josh Cohen wrote posts over at Publicola about some reasons why they ride bikes. Often, bike advocacy seems to concentrate on the emissions-free, environmentally-friendly aspects of bicycling. This turns some people off (which is unfortunate), but it seems to be one of the strongest arguments for governmental investment in bicycle infrastructure. After all, our legislative bodies all (OK, mostly) have carbon emissions goals to meet, right?

But it would be slightly dishonest of me to say that I choose to ride my bike as my primary (and nearly only) means of transportation because I don’t want to contribute to the world’s unsustainable carbon dioxide cloud (not to mention all the other exhaust toxins). No, the reasons that keep me riding are all about me. I ride a bike because:

  • it’s fun
  • it’s cheap
  • I stay fit without needing to do much other exercise
  • driving is stressful
  • transit is too expensive (at least compared to a bike)
  • I hate exhaust, and feel guilty for making others breathe mine when I drive
  • I hate driving in circles trying to find a parking spot
  • Biking takes you to places a car would never go
  • Biking brings me closer to my surroundings
  • I can smell things when I bike (downside to this: car exhaust)
  • I like to stop and take photos
  • I like to stop and pop into shops I have never explored
  • I like to going downhills so fast I keep up with car traffic
  • The most obvious bike route from much of north Seattle to my house just happens to go through Interlaken Park
  • I don’t have to worry about catching the last bus
  • I can learn to maintain my bike with relatively little effort or special tools (though there is certainly some of each)
  • I can almost always find parking within a few yards of the front door
  • Knowing I can get around without petroleum is empowering and fills me with much needed (and sometimes scarce) optimism about the future

So, what’s your list? Why do you ride a bike? If you don’t, why not?

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7 Responses to Why do you ride?

  1. I ride because it makes me feel healthy in body and mind. Comparing my ride to a drive, driving would only save me 10 minutes, well worth it considering the fun and the savings (my vehicle is a inefficient 1989 truck – it gets my side garden work done but I wouldn’t want to drive it every day). I feel forward thinking on a bike and I know it makes a difference.

    Beyond all the liberal jargon touted in favor of bicycling – I think you’ve touched on some of the better reasons I ride. It slows you down enough to think and be a part of your environment and community. I can smile at people I ride by on the Burke Gilman and hear all the birds singing along the way. It makes me more conscious of my time, my decisions, and I don’t rush around all the time.

  2. Alex Burchard says:

    I ride because it is the fastest way from Lake Point Tower to the Illinois Institute of Technology that doesn’t cost 6000+$/year
    The bus takes 28-80 minutes, Train takes ~30-50 mins Car takes ~15-20 mins, and bike takes 25-28 mins.
    The bike is the most consistent mode of transit timewise, I do not get stuck in traffic ever because I take a trail most of the way and can easily get out of traffic on main streets if I ever came upon it (haven’t yet).
    Biking makes me feel insanely good about myself.
    It is the only legitimate exercise I’ve endeavored to get since I played soccer in middle school 7 years ago. I did no real exercising between middle school and 6 months ago, and biking is such a fantastic way to get around!
    It enables me to go ANYWHERE I need in chicago in a reasonable amount of time.
    Biking is very fun, I am propelling myself to high speeds (22-23mph…) and feeling the breeze and seeing the sights!!
    I don’t have to pay as much attention as driving as I take a trail, so I get to enjoy the lakefront in all it’s glory, at night when I come home, I come around the Shedd Aquarium and BAM There is all the loop laid out before me in bright shinning city-light glory!
    And when I am on the roads it is really fun to be biking, its stressful at time because I worry I am in people’s way, but mostly its fun trying to keep up with cars.

    Now that I can’t bike due to medical problems for a while, I have been dreaming about getting back to biking, and how much I enjoy it.

  3. Andreas says:

    I wish I could say I rode because it was fun, or because it’s stress-free, but much (most?) of the time it’s not. At least, trying to not get hit by cars isn’t my idea of stress-free fun. And as much as I enjoy the freedom of a bicycle, I find myself wishing I had a car at least as often.

    But I don’t actually know how to drive, so that’s not an option. I’d prefer to walk everywhere if I could, but sometimes 4 mph just isn’t fast enough. And even if I didn’t hate absolutely everything about Metro, the bus often doesn’t go where (or when) I want to go. That pretty much leaves the bike. For me, a bike is just another mode of transport; it just happens to be the most feasible mode a lot of the time.

  4. Dylan says:

    I like to ride my bike because it turns the mundane into an adventure. “Hey son, want to get in the car and drive to the grocery store?” vs. “Hey, let’s go pop some wheelies, jump some curbs, race up a hill, check out the views of the Cascades, see a few neighborhood friends, and pick up some groceries on the way back.”

    no brainer.

  5. marie says:

    I ride because it gives me the most satisfying feeling of being free. It almost feels like I’m flying. Other reasons include being in shape and meeting a lot of fellow cyclists.

  6. mike archambault says:

    It’s often times the fastest way for me to get from point A to point B, especially if it’s a shortish trip that goes through downtown or during rush hour. But my main reason for biking is that it’s just plain fun. When I bike, I feel more connected with our city, our streets, my mind, nature, my community. It’s a feeling that it is hard to truly explain to folks that don’t bike, and I didn’t fully understand it until I became a habitual biker just a couple years ago. And that feeling never gets old. Nothing matches breezing under the trees of the Burke Gilman at dusk. Or crossing Fremont bridge with a full moon reflecting off of Lake Union. Or passing by cars stuck in traffic (going uphill!) on 12th Ave. Or being able to park right by the gate at major league sports games. The list goes on and on and a new pleasure is added practically every time I hop on my bike.

  7. Laurel Cyr says:

    I ride because I get paid to. I run a bike powered house cleaning service with my husband and we made cycling the main point of our business. It’s the biggest thing that sets us apart from our competitors and people are so amazed that we make it work. We pull our gear in a Burley Nomad trailer that adds 30 lbs to the ride. Even going uphill, I’d rather bike than be stuck in the bumper to bumper traffic I pass everyday on 520.

    The main reason I ride is to be independent of the car craze. People believe that we have to drive to be a functioning member of society. It’s totally untrue and when I have children, I want them to grow up knowing that there is a better way to live your life.

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