Earlier this summer I was on my usual bike ride to work when a car pulled up directly beside me as I prepared to make a left turn. The driver had his window rolled down and proceeded to berate me for being “in the wrong lane”. It’s tough to see someone’s arm sticking out to signal a left turn when you are passing them on the right with mere inches to spare, I guess.
The incident got me thinking about all of the reasons I choose to commute to work on my bike despite constant verbal abuse and encounters with dangerous drivers. As it turns out there are quite a few factors that keep me mounting up in the morning.
Cycling is a great way to sneak exercise into my day, but there’s more to it than that. Depression/anxiety and I have had a long, tumultuous relationship since I was a teen, and regular exercise helps me to lead a normal life and manage my emotions. This is a huge deal for me and the benefits can’t be overstated.
Thanks to my bicycle, my morning commute is transportation with a view. In the winter I walk to work rather than cycle, which is another great way to take in my surroundings. However, there’s nothing quite like seeing the city from two wheels. Cycling gets me where I need to go much more quickly than walking, but I still get to take in the sights and sounds of my environment. I can experience more from atop my bike than I can from behind the wheel of a car, from the wind on my face to the sounds of people going about their day. It’s really something else.
Free parking is a huge bonus for me. Our little city is known for its summer festivals, many of which take place in the downtown/exchange district. Parking a vehicle in these areas can be a real pain when festival events are going on, but not if you’re a cyclist! There are bike racks all over the place, and during festival season additional racks are added to accommodate cyclists.
Finally, I ride my bike because I love the sense of community involved. I have a habit of smiling at strangers. I don’t know when I started doing so or why, but it adds a little something to my day (and hopefully theirs) so I just keep on doing it. More often than not when I meet a fellow cyclist on one of the city’s paths we will exchange a smile or greeting. I know it’s cheesy, but the warm and fuzzies really keep me going some days. I’ve found runners to be friendly as well, so maybe fitness-minded folks are just happier or more outgoing? Who knows. I’m just happy to share my favourite paths with some friendly faces.
Do you ride a bicycle to commute? How about in your spare time? Why or why not?