The Low Road

Urban cycling 10


Part X: Why ride?

Not everyone’s views are as utopian as Kurtz’s. People ride bikes for a variety of reasons. To some it’s a sport; to others it’s recreation, and to some it’s a way to stay healthy. For some, it’s all of the above.

And for hundreds of thousands of riders, particularly in urban areas, it’s simply the most convenient way to get to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Journey to Work” report from 2000. (For a great unofficial breakdown of the census data, click here.)

It’s not for everyone. A long bike commute is pretty much impossible if there’s not a shower at the workplace. And while a few hardy riders saddle up in rain, sleet or snow, bad weather sends most riders fishing for their car keys.

But the benefits are many. Some cyclists say they actually get to work faster when they ride than when they drive, since they can bypass jammed traffic. Bikes also cost nothing to park or operate, and many riders say they welcome the health benefits and feel good about not contributing to pollution.

In a 2006 letter to the New Haven Register, ECC’s Elaine Lewinnek writes: “It costs each driver $6,600 every year to own, fuel, park, insure, and repair a car in Connecticut. Bicycles are not only much cheaper, they’re also more healthful for us and for our environment. Bicycles don’t pollute. Bicycles rarely cause traffic jams. And while wars are fought for the oil that powers our cars, bicycles are peacefully human-powered.”

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