I seem to get an inordinate number of questions about bike commuting from my coworkers and people that I meet on the train and bus. I suspect the fact that I ride a folder contributes to this, though it may just be that I attract questions because I’m enthusiastic and eager to chat with people about one of my favorite subjects (bikes) and it shows on my face.
People are typically curious about how far I ride, how long I’ve been bike commuting, what I do in the winter, how much my bike cost (that always shocks them a little, but I remind them how cheap it is in comparison to a car), how much money I’m saving, etc. And they’re often congratulatory, saying what a great sacrifice I’m making for the environment, what a big commitment it must be, how nice it must be to ride past the gas station, and how they “could never do that” (though they most certainly could, and I tell them so).
But here’s the big secret: bike commuting is no sacrifice at all. As a matter of fact, I often feel a pang of guilt for doing it. It’s so much fun, and I derive so many benefits from it (health, wealth, serenity) that my subconscious mind assumes I must be cheating, that I must be doing something bordering on the unethical or illegal, because nothing in this world is free (right?). But bike commuting, so it seems, defies this capitalistic logic of getting what you pay for, and actually gives you what you deserve; not in the negative sense of retribution, but in the most positive sense of reaping the rewards of trying to do the right thing.
So I’ve started telling people about this. When they ask why I bike commute, instead of launching into the ecological and economic benefits, I first talk to them about how much fun it is, how good it makes me feel, and how little effort it takes. I tell them about the things I see along the road (birds, kids, dogs, turkeys, hawks, squirrels), the way it clears out the cobwebs in the morning and flushes out the stress in the evening, what a relief it is to be free of driving related stress and anxiety, and that you couldn’t pay me to go back to driving a car everyday.
I hope that by sharing my big secret—the fact that bike commuting is not a sacrifice at all, but instead is a richly rewarding endeavor—people will be more likely to consider it for themselves.