(Photo from Julian Hery)
Whenever I go biking in the heart of Washington DC, I cannot avoid the flocks and flocks of Segway tours along the National Mall and in the bike lanes. Technology has brought our society away from the driver’s seat and into the spectator’s position. When we are in the driver’s seat and stuck in traffic, we have less control over what we do and how we do it. With that being said, it’s not a completely bad thing either. They may provide ease, reliability, sometimes safety, and the ability for us to focus our efforts on other things or just not focusing at all. However, they are missing the charm that can be found and tasted in baking a batch of cupcakes from scratch, as opposed to buying a box of processed, machine-manufactured, too-perfect-to-look-edible Twinkies. Biking, on the other hand, is a timeless activity that puts the rider back in control.
Whether it’s treated as a hobby or a means of transportation, bikers can set their own paces and determine their own routes. There, as I’m in the moment, it’s just me gripping the rubbery handlebars while leaning forward into the breeze as I navigate my own direction. My lungs expand and deflate rhythmically with fresh, clean air and my two legs pedal with a sense of purpose. I set my own pace, a pace punctuated by nothing other than overhanging stoplights. The thrill being in the moment allows me to define that period of time, no matter how brief, for myself. Whereas the speed limit is myself, the boundary of independence is nonexistent.
This month happens to Bike Month, as sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, to celebrate the thrills and charms of Biking. Within the month, Bike to Work Week happens from May 16th to May 20th and Bike to Work Day is this Friday, May 20th. If you have a bike, I strongly encourage you to bike to work this week, if you don’t do so already. It may not be the quickest or easiest method of getting to work, but it allows for you to have a brief period of time where you can set your own pace however you like. On top of that, you will also be getting a good workout, reducing your greenhouse gas emissions while saving money on the fuel conserved and, if you live in a large metropolitan area like I do, stopping to have to worry about paying exorbitant fees for hard-to-find parking spaces, thus leaving you relaxed, refreshed, energized, and ready to take on the rest of your day!
Planet Forward has a lot of avid cyclists and people who engage in discussion and propose ideas about bicycling. Here are some of the best that we discovered:
- Reflections on a 21,000-mile Bicycle Journey - If this doesn’t make a statement, I don’t know what does! Climate expert David Kroodsma biked from California to the southernmost tip of South America while explaining what we can learn from other societies about how we can “rebuild our cities for people not not cars”.
- Cities in Focus: New York City - New York is on a mission to ramp up bicycle infrastructure across the city and introduce bus rapid transit to the Bronx, and pedestrianize Times Square, thus making the Big Apple the “greatest, greenest big city in the world”.
- Beyond the Car - Biking burns your calories, not fossil fuels. As a result, you can breathe the clean air that you, among all the other bikers of our world today, help produce.
- Bikestation DC: Making Clean Transporation Work - Meet Jesse, a regular commuter to work via bicycle, and learn his story of why he bikes every day! Jesse uses Bikestation, a bike share business that provides many locations of public bicycles around DC without the cost of having to maintain your own bicycle.
- Biker Rebels Pursue Green Cause - Rebel Pedals is a another bicycle sharing program and it promotes a clean and green campus at The University of Mississippi. Rebel Pedals is a wonderful aspect of the Ole Miss campus. We can’t wait to see other colleges join in on creating a clean and green environment for their students through bikeshare programs.