A Bicycling Manifesto

With the price of gas where it is, along with my own desire to get more exercise, I’ve adopted a set of rules regarding bicycle usage, and encourage everyone to do the same.  I think it represents a distinctly different attitude towards bicycling than we’re used to.  See what you think.

  1. Ride a bike for a reason, not just for recreation; while riding a bike for recreation is fine, the idea is to promote replacement of cars with bikes where possible.  Make a point of choosing trips where you actually are replacing a car trip.
  2. Don’t wear funny sports clothes. They preclude your ability to partake in normal society.  If you’re going to a lunch meeting, no one wants to see bikerman in spandex.  Furthermore, wearing sports clothing promotes the image that bikes are for ‘cyclists’ and not normal people.  Do wear a helmet, and lock it to your bike when you need to go in someplace.
  3. Go where you need to go, including busier roads, if that’s what’s necessary to reach your destination. Bikes will never be used as replacements for cars unless they can truly substitute.  By making yourself visible on major roads, you increase the visibility of bikes as a whole and help raise awareness of problem spots. Obviously use common sense and avoid limited access roads and unsafe situations.  But DO go where you need to go to complete your trip.
  4. Obey traffic laws and signals. Being on a bike doesn’t give you a free pass to act like a maniac.  Be courteous, intelligent, and follow traffic signals and laws.  This puts cars on notice that bikers (even slow, non-athletic ones) deserve their fair share of the road, but you need to reciprocate by acting in a predictable, lawful, and measured way.
  5. Replace time at the gym (or other exercise efforts) with time on a bike as part of your daily routine. Isn’t it nonsensical to use a car to rush through your day so you can get home at 5 and then go to the gym (or bike or run) for an hour?  If you slow down and use a bike for some tasks during the day, you won’t need to spend as much time doing mindless exercise.  And you’ll save on gas (and carbon emissions), and get better connected to your community.

This week, I used my bike to go to three lunch meetings, a doctor appointment, and two trips to buy groceries.  I put in over 60 miles just between Monday and Thursday, and it took only a few minutes more time than it would have to drive.  I am sure I’ve lost weight doing this, though I don’t care how much.  I feel better and that alone is worth it.

And two of the best perks about biking: you’re never stuck in traffic, and second, you always get a top-notch parking spot.  Plus, you’re not circling around trying to find a place to park.  More gas and time savings.  Being on a bike in many ways is faster and more efficient than being in a car, especially when the distances you’re talking about are under 30 minutes of bike time (8-10 miles).

Anyone who lives in the Annapolis, Maryland area knows it’s a congested, frustrating experience to try to get ANYWHERE on a weekday afternoon by car.  Why not try it on a bike and see how much quicker it can be?