We live in a time and place where it’s tough to get around without a car. Most development favors automobiles and if you would prefer to travel some other way you have to make compromises. For some, this means living in a congested city close to transit. For others, it means accepting a lower level of income or letting opportunities pass because they don’t have the means to easily access them. Most people never decide at all. They just go with the flow without giving it any thought whatsoever.
I know this. These are all decisions I’ve had to make in the last year. They have not been easy but they have been worth it. Now that they’re mostly behind me, I realize that I should have done this decades ago. This is a better way to live…no doubt about it.
I’ve noticed that more and more people are deciding to do the same thing. Bikes are starting to show up everywhere, even where you don’t necessarily expect them. Take Walmart, for example. Who rides their bike to Walmart? Lots of people, as it turns out. Their store at 20th and Wall in Ogden has a bike rack in front of each door. They’re almost always full when I visit. That was the case yesterday. This is also true at Smith’s (Kroger) on 12th and Harrison and a whole host of other places where I shop or do business.
When we moved to Ogden we sold one of our two cars. According to AAA, the annual cost of owning a car is around $9,000. That means this simple act of standing up to the status quo saves us over $750 each and every month. What would you do with an additional $750 a month? Would it change your life?
There’s still a stigma attached to riding a bike. I’ve come across people who think I’m unable to afford a car. I can see it in how they size me up. I wonder if they have any idea how much a top of the line bicycle actually costs. Probably not. I like to have fun with these folks. I imagine them driving off in some rusted out hulk held together with duct tape and I tell myself that they probably just can’t afford to bicycle.
Others think I’m a miscreant who has lost his license to drive. I don’t know why they would think that. Most people who lose their license continue to drive without one. This is America, 2015. There’s precious little respect for the law, society, each other, ourselves. Of course they’re going to drive.
Ultimately, the fact that I choose to ride a bike is about respect. I didn’t realize this until recently. It’s about this marvelous planet and its finite resources. It’s about clean air and peace and quiet for my neighbors, their children who are at the kitchen table studying, the asthmatic around the corner who struggles to breathe. It’s about strained fiscal budgets and the big lie that we can build our way out of congestion. It’s not only about them. It’s about me, too. My health… My outlook… My quality of life…
One more thing… For me, at least, riding a bike is also about sticking it to the man. I like sticking this. It’s how I’m wired, I guess. I like keeping that $750 each month instead of sending it to GM or Toyota or Exxon. They have enough. They’ll be fine without me. You, too, if you choose to ride along.
Have a great weekend. Ride lots!