August 24, 2005

Biking to work

Failure Magazine carries a review of Bicycle: The History by David Herlihy, a book that expounds on the loss of a mode of transportation that was once liberating to the masses and more particularly, to women. How far has fallen the noble bicycle!
In 21st-century America, bicycles are generally considered to be the province of kids, bike messengers, and lycra-clad Lance Armstrong wannabes. The once-King of the Road has been marginalized, pushed to the road shoulder—figuratively and sometimes literally.
Bicyle commuting would be a good idea - at the least, in fair weather.

I went through a period of riding my bike a distance of about one and a half miles to work in an office, and it was okay as long as I wasn't in too much of a hurry and the weather was agreeable. One does not want to arrive at the office dripping wet from rain or from sweat.

There were so many days when it was too hot, too cold, or too wet, that I ultimately abandoned the bicyle to the dust kittens in the downstairs hall, where it remained with a flat tire and a padlock whose combination I had long since forgotten, until we moved.

That bike, a ladies three-speed, had one advantage only, a seat ample enough to be comfortable. I got it second-hand for a little under $100. My husband at the time was influential in my getting it and I am sure I disappointed him in failing to take up biking with enthusiasm. Rather, it was a grinding chore for me.

Nevertheless, I think using a bike as transportation is an excellent idea, and I recommend it to everyone else. People ought to drive less; they ought to live closer to where they work and use a bike or walk to work. And they should definitely walk or bike to where they exercise.

Years ago I noted the irony that the downtown YMCA gym was failing to attract new people due to a lack of parking space There was a parking lot less than a block away, but people apparently did not want to walk half a block to exercise -- they wanted to park directly in front of the door.

The author of the above mentioned bicycle review likewise states:
Americans drive their SUV's to the gym, fight for parking spaces, then stand on line for Spin classes led by instructors who don't even own bicycles.

The thing is, biking is not just for exercise. It's for usingless gasoline, keeping the air cleaner and ourselves richer both in cash and conciousness. You can mediate while you bike;but think while driving at your peril.

Thanks to The Rev. Dr. Peter Gomes of Harvard,for the reference to Failure Magazine.


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