As 2009 takes a bow, the New Year ushers in feelings of renewal and opportunity. This time of year characteristically represents the time to leverage this sense of renewal, to reinvent some part of ourselves for the better. The bicycle offers us many such opportunities to positively change our individual lives, and the whole of our community.
Excercise. Common knowledge suggests that most of us fail to exercise as much as we need, and that time is the culprit. Gainesville’s bicycle-friendly footprint means that many of the places we go are also accessible by bicycle within a reasonable amount of time. Consider your commute to work, and replace your driving habit with a bicycle! In this way, you can convert an activity which we collectively abhor into one which benefits you cardiovascularly, muscularly, and mentally. In most cases, your transit time will increase, but your ride to work will wake you up better than any cup of coffee, and your ride home will decompress you from the stress of your workday.
Economy. Bicycling costs very little! Beyond the cost of the bicycle itself, the upkeep of a bicycle may be measured in just a few dollars per year. With services such as The Gainesville Community Bicycle Project (The Kickstand) available, you may even learn to maintain your bicycle on your own–reducing your costs to little more than a few basic tools and lubricants. Do your wallet a favor this year and choose to bicycle. Gainesville’s local bicycle shops offer models for every purpose and budget, and stand ready to help you make your bicycle work for you.
Environment. Commit to a greener life in 2010. Annually, a bicycle consumes a modicum of grease and lubricants, and absolutely no gasoline! To make this mode work for you in 2010, find one activity–such as any trip to the grocery store for 5 or less items–and make an earthier choice. With the addition of an inexpensive rack and baskets or panniers, your bicycle becomes a true workhorse, capable of carrying at least the most basic of life’s necessities. While cars and trucks undoubtedly help us accomplish tasks that might otherwise prove difficult by bicycle, many of the miles we drive don’t utilize the vast carrying capacities that come with us on every trip. Some even choose this mode of travel for worldwide adventure with minimal environmental impact!
Community. Bumper stickers aside, cars can strip us of our individuality and humanity. We are sometimes easily frustrated by the car driving under the speed limit, or which seems indecisive about whether to turn or not, forgetting the person within. On the bicycle you may be seen for what you are–a human being–going about their life, having feelings, and deserving respect. Cyclists generally share an unspoken bond forged by the joys and trials of their spoke-wheeled vehicles. Acknowledging the person on the bicycle (and waving hello!) when you see them comes naturally, and encourages the spread of good will.
In a very short time, you may find yourself choosing to bicycle more. And if this is the case, you may find that being “out” in the world brings you closer to “home” than driving ever could…albeit a bit more slowly! Wear a helmet, and ensure that your 2-wheeled wonder complies with Florida and Gainesville’s cycling laws. Be safe and smart. Be seen, and be free!