On Thursday I went for a bike ride. I was pretty restless and didn’t feel like doing work, so I just hopped on my bike and road around the colleges for 45 minutes. It was so much fun. First I just rode hard up to the street below Harvey Mudd. There wasn’t any traffic on the roads, so I was free to go where I liked and how. I started carving – swooping back and forth with big turns, like you do on a snowboard – and couldn’t figure out why more people don’t do it. Riding straight is fun and all, but weaving is great!
I rode around in the Scripps parking garage for a while, around the library grounds, then spent a while in the CGU parking lot doing trackstands and trying to ride backwards (I absolutely cannot ride backwards. Or do a wheelie. Those are two things that are just completely beyond me).
In Cities, we’ve been talking lately about car culture and the development of automobile infrastructure. One of the things that kept coming up, and in fact came up specifically in class on Friday, was how cars gave people a sense of speed and freedom; that they are these symbols of independence and personal mobility. I raised my hand and explained how I thought biking did the same, only better. I definitely love driving around at night listening to music. It’s everything it’s reputed to be. But riding around the colleges on Thursday was so much more exhilerating. I got going pretty fast, and speed is so much more noticeable on a bike. I could go where I wanted, by myself, and feel the wind on my face.
There are many reasons why people won’t give up there cars. But that feeling of independence and freedom isn’t one of them, at least it shouldn’t be. People either don’t think about biking at all, tend to get caught up in getting places, or get stuck on how many miles or how fast they can go. But it’s worth remembering that the bike is so much more than a means of transportation.. Tooling around, carving, coasting…biking is just fun.
Note: My dad sent me an editorial from the New York Times that talks about bikes as a means of expression on Stanford’s campus. Pretty similar to what I talked about in Ride a Fucking Road Bike. Just saying.