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The short answer is: because I can.
While debates rage around the world about hi viz, helmets, speed limits and even the best approach to advocacy, it makes one wonder, what’s the point of it all?
The point for me, is that I love riding my bike. And I’d love for other people to feel comfortable enough to choose to do so as well. It’s what makes the advocacy campaigns, the blogs, the twitter discussions, and the occasional ‘telling off’ worth it.
There’s the benefits to our society in general. More exercise/active transport = better health = less healthcare costs. Less motorised traffic = less pollution and less congestion. Lower demand for petrol = more money staying/being spent in local communities. All of these things equate to a healthier economy (see Roger Geller’s excellent case study of Portland for details). They mean overall better health in our communities. They mean less time wasted sitting in traffic (both for cyclists who cover short distances faster and for motorists who benefit from less traffic on the roads).
Cycling infrastructure also costs very little. A fraction of what motorways cost. So for a small spend you can achieve multiple gains. It’s as close as we can come, in the modern world, to the mythical ‘silver bullet’ solution. It’s simple and perfect. If only everyone could see that!
Personally, cycling gives me freedom. Freedom from the aches and joint pains that I’ve suffered since my mid-twenties. It’s one of a few active pursuits that I can comfortably participate in, and this makes it even more important for me, as exercise (and good diet) is the most important thing to retaining mobility.
Also, we’re a one-car household. We’ve been tempted to dispose of our car altogether, but with it also being our work vehicle, this simply isn’t an option yet. We have recently acquired a cargo-bike, which for a fraction of the cost of a car, fulfils most of it’s purposes. And has no (/negligible) on-going maintenance costs. We simply couldn’t afford the ongoing costs of a second car. But we can afford the one-off cost of a bike. Being comfortable riding my bike, in place of a car, gives me financial freedom and independence from my husband.
There’s also the joy of cycling; the freedom of youth. That feeling when your parents let you ride down the road to visit your friends. Feeling independent! Being trusted! Being responsible! It’s a great feeling, and many of us have forgotten this.
Riding a bike is such a good thing. It’s such a simple and easy thing to do. It leaves you feeling good. I apologise for coming across like a Cycling Evangelist, but, so many people still don’t or won’t ride. It seems such a shame. What will it take to make a difference?