Every year some crisis comes up that makes me believe people might wise up to the fabulous freedom that bike commuting provides. This year it’s the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Last year, it was the economy. Before that it was two or three years of high gas prices. Going back further, it was the polar bear animation in Al Gore’s movie. I started switching over from driving to biking after my country picked a ludicrous fight in Iraq. But I don’t think I put the whole bike-commuting deal into full gear until reports started coming out of Abu Ghraib. That just pissed me off and turned me into the relatively hard-core commuter cyclist I’ve become. (Supporting war and torture for oil, even tacitly, just aint my thing.)
To clarify, I’m no mountain biker. Even as a teen, I lacked the agility and guts to be a serious hard-core mountain-bike guy, but I also lacked the desire. If I was going to spend time on a mountain, I would hike and enjoy the experience of nature on its own terms as opposed to whipping down a trail on a burly piece of ultra-carbonate technology. (And, btw, I’m also not talking about “road” biking where you pull up your spandex and hit the distant highway for the sheer thrill and exercise.)
I’m talking about bike commuting. For me this not only means biking to job sites all over the area, but it also encompasses errand-running on a bike with a trailer, or huge backpack (or both), plus pedaling to social/cultural/spiritual events, and cycling kids back and forth to school, Tae Kwon Do, or wherever.
Unfortunately for our planet, this outrageous catastrophe might be the tipping point that gets many more of us (not everyone, of course, I know) off our sliced-bread butts and onto the seats of bicycles. Fortunately, when they finally sit their tushies in place, they will find, on balance, there could be no single more exhilarating form of functional/practical transportation in the world. Biking is the bomb, and now is the time to realize it!