“Non-motorized transportation such as biking and walking are just as legitimate a transportation choice as anything else.” -Brian Gibson, executive director of St. Cloud (MN) Area Planning Organization
This quote came across my Leaf feed this morning and I found myself thinking about it as I rode a little while ago. I’ve never given the legitimacy of my cycling or walking much thought. Of course it’s legitimate, I mean, I think it is, right?
I struggled with this for a little while but as I pedaled onward it slowly dawned on me that the reason Mr. Gibson said what he said is because a lot of people attempt to delegitimize cycling as a form of transportation. I see it first hand every time I ride. You probably do, too. They attempt to delegitimize us by passing too close, either splashing or scaring us. They attempt to delegitimize us by yelling at us to get on the sidewalk where we belong. They also to do it in print, often by professing to care about our safety when that’s the furthest thing from their minds. They don’t know this, but I’ve seen how they drive while on my bicycle. They don’t care about their own safety let alone ours.
Whatever. I’m long past the point of caring what some bullies in cars think of me. I’m not going to stop cycling no matter how badly they want me to. I won’t give them the satisfaction. I’m legitimate and I know it.
In fact, I’m a whole lot more legitimate than they are. I’ve never tried to run a single motorist off the road while on my bike. Many of them can’t say the same. My “hobby” doesn’t consume a scarce resource or shred municipal budgets or dirty the air or any one of a number of things their “hobby” does. My hobby pays its own way. Their hobby? Not even close. I’m not sure they really want to have a debate about legitimacy with me. They’d lose.
When we walk or cycle for those short trips where a motor isn’t really necessary, we are making a conscious decision to respect the planet and the nice folks we share it with. We’re making it easier for the person struggling with asthma to breath. We’re creating peace and we’re giving everyone a fighting chance to get to where they’re going alive and without a bank loan.
It doesn’t stop there, either. We’re also respecting ourselves. We’re relying on our own bodies to get us where we need to go. That makes us healthier and improves our quality of life. In a country where tens of millions of people are obese and living lives of not-so-quiet desperation, that’s no small thing.
The good news is that as time marches on, more and more people are figuring this out and deciding to give cycling a try. You probably know someone right now who is on the fence. Share with them. Tell them your story. Bicycling is one thing we can all do right now to fix what’s broken…for ourselves…for our communities…for the whole, ever-loving planet.
That’s not just legitimate…it’s noble. Find your bike. Saddle up. Ride.