Ever since I was a kid, the bicycle has always represented freedom to me. That feeling has only become more pronounced as I’ve grown older . I can’t think of any place or time where I am as free as when I’m on a bicycle. It is one of the most compelling reasons I ride…no doubt about it.
I sometimes read comments online from people demanding that we cyclists be licensed before we can use “their” roads. They always refer to the roads as theirs. They want their legislature to pass new laws requiring me to wear bright colored clothing and a helmet and put a flag on my bike and use the sidewalk, for my own good of course. I don’t wish to stereotype, but more often than not it seems to me that these comments come from people who fancy themselves to be “freedom loving” Americans.
These people strike me as bitter. They think we cyclists are getting away with something by not needing a license. We’re not. The real reasons we’re not required to have one are a bit more practical. Bicycles can’t inflict the same level of harm on society as motor vehicles. Our 20 pound bikes don’t chew up roads the same way 4,000 pound SUVs do. We don’t license people because they move. We license to assure a minimal level of competency and, hopefully, a reduction in carnage. It’s as simple as that.
So instead of getting angry about it, I wish these folks would just saddle up and ride. Give it a try. Who knows what might happen as a result?
For the last sixty years or so, our built environment has prioritized heavy machinery over people. It’s time for that to change, and that’s a big part of the reason I carry on with this. True freedom will never be found zipping along at high speed in an enclosed, climate controlled cocoon. Freedom is found when you spread your wings, sweat a little and get to where you need to be under your own sweet power in your own sweet time.
This 4th of July, my wish for you is to experience the same freedom I’ve experienced on my bicycle. Happy Independence Day! Let freedom ring!