Sustainability, in a broad sense, is the capacity to endure. In ecology the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For humans it is the potential for long-term maintenance of wellbeing, which in turn depends on the wellbeing of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources.
Bicycles contribute to the “long-term maintenance of wellbeing” in that their use creates no pollution and improves the health of those who use them. We believe they are an extremely important part of a sustainable future.
Another important aspect of sustainability is each person’s ability to participate in sustainable practices. In the case of bicyclists, that means keeping our bodies healthy and strong so we can “sustain” our ability to ride a bicycle for transportation over the bulk of our lives.
Dedicated transportational bicyclists need to be particularly careful to keep an eye on the long-term sustainability of their riding habits. It’s tempting to push through injury and illness in the short term, only to end up with more serious problems that keep you off the bike for long stretches (if not permanently). We need to allow ourselves guilt-free days off when the weather is unreasonably harsh, work schedules create conflicts, or our bodies are just telling us “enough”. We need to aim for participating at the highest level that still enables us to sustain our green transportation practices over the long-term without causing injury or diminished morale, both of which may lead to giving up bicycling for transportation altogether.