As most of you know, I started this blog to write about using a bicycle instead of a car for short trips of five miles or less. What started as an idea in my mind a little over two years ago has now morphed into a lifestyle. Back then, I would take an occasional trip to the library in Brownsburg Indiana by bicycle, but my life was still heavily car dependent. Now, it’s mostly about the bike.
I started tracking trips this year with the goal of making more than half of my trips of five miles or less by bicycle. There was no magic behind that number. It just seemed attainable yet sufficiently ambitious. I’ve done it (72% of all trips < 5 miles by bike) now for six months, through rain, snow, sleet and gloom of night. I see no reason why I can’t do it more in the months and years to come.
Because I now work from home, I don’t have a daily commute and my car trips have fallen off dramatically. Interestingly enough, I don’t think I would ever consider another job that requires me to get into a car and drive to it every day. If I can’t bike or combine biking with transit, I think I would likely pass on the opportunity. I just have zero desire to play road warrior any longer. It looks so silly in hindsight.
These days it feels odd to get into a car. I have discovered that I prefer not to. I can bomb down 22nd Street on my bicycle and be at the FrontRunner station in 10 minutes, tops. It takes at least that long to drive there. From there I can get on a train and go to Salt Lake City or Provo. I can roll my bike off at the other end and get to just about any destination along the Wasatch Front.
Or I can take the train to the plane, park my bike securely and fly anywhere in the world. When I arrive, I probably won’t need a car. Cities like Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Portland, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Seattle all have trains connecting the airport to the urban core. Most others have buses. An increasing number of cities have bikeshare programs now, too, so getting around at the other end won’t be a problem. Omaha will soon have bikeshare that connects the airport to downtown. How cool would it be to get off a plane at Eppley Airfield and bicycle to your downtown hotel?
This would not have been possible in America twenty years ago. It is now, mostly because a lot of people with great vision have been working tirelessly to make it possible. I find myself thinking about this a lot, especially when frustration and doubt sets in. The pace of progress seems so slow, but in reality things are changing very quickly and they will continue to change.
What can hasten that change is you and your loved ones on a bike. Every time someone chooses to take a short trip by bicycle instead of car, the world changes for the better.
But human beings resist change. We have to force ourselves to change and here’s an easy way to do so. Think consciously about each trip you make. Before you mindlessly grab the car keys and head out, ask yourself this one simple question. What’s the best vehicle for the trip I’m about to take?
- Is it my car?
- Is it the bus?
- Is it the train?
- Is it my own two feet?
- Is it my bike?
Once you have your answer, use that vehicle. As you do this, you’ll discover what I have. For trips of five miles or less, bicycles are best.