Why We Ride

Underpinning everything we do here at EcoVelo is the desire to reduce our dependence on the automobile while encouraging others to do the same. We strongly believe reducing automobile use can improve our neighborhoods, our cities, and ultimately, the world.

While this is reason enough to leave our car in the garage, truth be told, there are other, more selfish reasons why we ride bikes, including:

Taken together, these benefits make a compelling case for transportational bicycling, and on a personal level, they make bicycle riding an extremely important part of our daily lives.

We’d love to hear from you about why you ride and what brings you back to the bike, day-after-day, year-after-year.

[In a cool bit of synchronicity, our friend Tammy over at Unconventional Photography and Rowdy Kittens posted a photo today with the caption "Why We Ride" (it also happens to be the photo of Logan's bike that was published to the EV Gallery yesterday). And no, we didn't get on the horn this morning to make sure our blog posts were topic-coordinated... :-) -ed.]

18 Responses to “Why We Ride”

  • Helton says:

    If I should think the main reason why I ride, besides being already addicted, I would say that the continuous streaming of sensory inputs provided by riding a bike (which is more natural and organic than driving, more “overclock” to the senses than walking, and less demanding on cardio and muscle than running) makes one so involved and distracted from other things like problems or even conscious daily-problem-solving, that it has a sort of “refreshing” or sometimes even “resetting” power to our mental abilities.

    After a long ride, I arrive home and usually sit staring the wall, thoughts wandering randomly. Sometimes while riding or after it, I have some unusual and highly useful idea or inspiration.

    When I was a kid, I rode because I liked, and because I wanted, period. Now at 32yo, I ride because I NEED it, since I already know the difference between riding on a regular basis, and not riding at all, which is very frustrating.

    By the way, my wife finds it curious when I painfully complain about being way too much time without riding a bike. Most times it means three or four days without riding, and my “riding bone” start itching…

  • Logan says:

    Serendipity is sublime. :) Great post!

    You offer many compelling reasons. The only idea I can think to add is the feeling of empowering simplicity and lower risk with the bike relative to car travel. Increased complexity, speed and scale means increased risk of failure and this is unsettling to me. Although I can perform basic maintenance on a car (change the oil, fix a flat tire), the car is huge with thousands of moving parts and travels at incredible speeds. The bicycle is relatively a simple machine to understand and requires less dependence overall which for us lowers the emotional stress that is inherent in transportation. :)

  • Tiago Salgado says:

    I live in Lisbon, Portugal, well-known for their irregular geography (known as the city of the 7 hills) and chaotic traffic, and I commute to my work for about a year with a folding bike (it’s great to use in the subway when I’ve to get to some places where I have to ‘climb’ some parts of Lisbon).

    We can say it’s true that Lisbon is a difficult city to ride a bike (and it is!), and the experience might be quite different than, let’s say, Holland or other plain cities. And I know people that find that quite daring, although for commuting, sometimes can be hard. But there are some parts of Lisbon that can be arranged to provide quality infrastructures for people enjoy the ride and make it more ‘civilized’ and human (riding in the sidewalks, 1 vehicle roads can be dangerous sometimes). And it’s true that the local government has made some effort recently in this area. We’ve now some quality bike-only roads, and what we’re seeing today could truly be the beginning of a new way of life and enjoying a city where bikes can run with respect. Now we can see people riding for fun, commuting to work, doing groceries, for sport. We’re a few for now, but the difference from two years ago is quite noticeable.

    So, apart the wealthy reasons, self-enjoyment, money-saving and so on, I guess my selfish reason could be the effort I made, associated to the example you give to the population, that all together gives me some self-realization to my daily life.

    Cheers!

    Ps – Great blog!

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    My reasons…

    I find the physical sensations experienced while cycling pleasurable.

    I enjoy the psychological state cycling puts me in.

    Most of the time, I find cycling a more convenient way to get around than driving or using public transport.

    I find cycling to be the perfect way to explore the landscape, due to its moderate speed and direct assess to the environment.

    I dislike the experience of driving, of being driven, or of using public transport in a city. Traffic congestion makes me motion-sick and I hate feeling trapped in a stuffy enclosed space. Cycling offers an escape from that.

    I believe that the over-use of automobiles we see today, especially in cities over short distances, should be avoided due to the harm it causes to the environment. I am not, however, against automobiles in general and support people’s right to use them when they are the most practical option for transport.

  • townmouse says:

    Curiously enough, I’ve just done two posts on exactly this subject. It must be the weather, filling us all with the joys of cycling. My main reason is that I hate driving and love cycling, so it’s no contest really

  • Nate Briggs says:

    It’s a consumer-centered culture, so I adapt to that when talking to prospective riders by emphasizing that riding is NOT Martyrdom.

    It is not a mantle of suffering which we assume to make the world a better place.

    The Real World benefits of being self-propelled on two wheels are substantial. But, at the same time, they are incidental to the fact that riding (for me) is just a simple and reliable source of joy.

    … Nate (SLC)

  • Sharper says:

    You’re preaching to the choir, Alan, though I think the reasons to ride should be pretty obvious with a few minutes’ thought. Lately, when people ask me why I ride, I usually respond, “Why shouldn’t I ride?”

  • Willis says:

    I started in college to get home from parties without driving drunk. Now I ride for the benefit it provides me mentally after a day at work. Now that I have children I ride for them, I don’t want to be the problem that they will be burdened with although BP seems to be taking care of that for us. I ride for the liberation….a car is a jail where you are confined to certain areas, told how fast to go, compete with others for the same spaces, and are bridled with debts only the fortunate among us can afford. I ride for the people running small businesses in out of the way locations and I stop at their establishments rather than the chain locations. I ride for the towns on formally grand thrououghfares like US 1 here in VA that have been all but abandoned with the construction of interstates. You always here about the “real” America. This is it and I ride to preserve it. Sadly, those who wish to propogate their ideas of what the real America looks like seem to want to do so in the confines of an auto as they pass by what “real” America once was.

  • Dave says:

    Much of why I ride is summarized in this post :)

    http://www.portlandize.com/2010/04/why-i-ride.html

    And here’s a more tangible expression of part of why I ride:

    http://www.portlandize.com/2010/05/exploring-city.html

  • Ed L. says:

    @ Nate Briggs – “riding . . . is just a simple and reliable source of joy”

    Exactly!! Bicycling carries lots of incidental (which is not to say insubstantial) benefits, but I ride because its fun, convenient and provides one of the best and cheapest thrills going on a day to day basis.

  • Laurel says:

    I ride because no matter what kind of day I’ve had, it always makes me smile.

  • Ann says:

    This. http://www.vimeo.com/11062048 I love exploring the inner areas of the forest that I live in. It’s so large (2.2 million acres) that I’ll never be able to explore more than a small fraction of it. However, it’s just energizing to be out in it. I’m also always in firewood collection mode so my fun rides have a utilitarian purpose. I have my GPS with me at all times (it’s easy to get lost once you ride deep into the fores) and will mark on it areas where there are fallen trees so I can come back with the truck and chainsaw and collect firewood. I just got a better camera that shoots HD video and has dual image stabilization so I’ve now been able to eliminate camera shake and will be posting better videos of my forest rides. That is, if mother nature will give us a break and end this cold, wet and windy weather. I have no enthusiasm for riding off paved roads in pouring rain. The weather forecast has us in low temps and rain until the 8th of June. Ugh.

  • Cassidy Castleman says:

    At PRACTICAL CYCLE, the reasons we ride, and encourage others to ride, fit into four basic categories:

    1) RIDE FOR FUN
    Is it possible to have too much fun?
    Ride a Practical Cycle and feel like a kid again. You can leave your troubles (and road rage) behind you on a peaceful joyride along a scenic bike path or quiet side street. Enjoy the ride!

    2) RIDE FOR HEALTH
    What’s more important than your health?
    Ride a Practical Cycle and live a healthier lifestyle. You can decide if you want a challenging workout, a gentle ride in the park, or something in between. Remember that your health is your greatest wealth!

    3) RIDE FOR THE KIDS
    How will you be remembered?
    Ride a Practical Cycle and leave an enduring legacy. You can help America declare energy independence, stimulate the economy, cut pollution, and conserve resources for future generations. Do your part to build a brighter future for the kids!

    4) RIDE FOR MONEY
    How much does it cost to drive?
    Ride a Practical Cycle and put cash in your pocket. You can save money on gas, loan payments, insurance, registration, parking, traffic tickets, maintenance and repairs. Imagine what you could do with all that extra cash!

  • Mitchell says:

    I think a big reason is being missed. People in cities with really high levels of cycling transport mode share ride because it is simply faster. I live in a metropolis (Melbourne, Australia) – although it’s quite low density, it’s just simply faster to ride anywhere. Whether it’s my ride to university of 15km or the ride to the library in the CBD, it’s always faster door to door. I could catch public transport, but that would take me more than twice as long for the trip to both destinations, or drive to uni (about 30min vs 40mins for the uni commute).

    Yes, the finances are a key factor to some wanting to get on the bike, but I don’t think that’s really a clincher for the time poor generation we live in. As they say “time is money”! The problem with selling commuting as the ‘good’ thing to do for the environment or their future health is it tells people they are ‘bad’ for driving a car instead of showing them the personal, immediate benefits.

  • john boyer says:

    keep it coming you two. Dont let up!

  • Brent says:

    I ride because I hated my car and found it a source of stress, while my bike is a source of stress relief.

    I ride because I can combine cardio with running errands and save some time on the weekend.

    I ride because I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I arrive home with a big load of groceries, and other items (a new kitchen trash can and swamp cooler pads last weekend) on the bike.

    I ride because I love this planet and I want it to stay a nice place to live.

    I ride because it is the closest thing I can get to flying.

    I ride because it makes me feel connected to the world around me.

    I ride because it helps keep my big fat butt from getting bigger and fatter – it’s actually shrinking!

    I ride because it makes me feel like a kid again.

    I ride because I love to ride a bike.

  • Frank says:

    Started to lose weight – lost 30 pounds.
    Like to go fast – increased my average speed by 2 mph over the last two months.
    Fun driving a recumbent – want to buy a second one.
    Like tinkering – do the maintenance on my bike now.
    Do it for my health – got a surprise blood pressure dropped from 120/85 to 110/65.
    Makes me pure happy!

  • Spencer says:

    I actually blog to this topic of Why I Ride. One of the most important reasons for me is to do all I can to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. I lost all 4 grandparents in my youth, and I believe they would still be here had they lived a more active lifestyle. I like to think that riding saves my life every day. I absolutely love it.

 
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