Why I ride my bike
|Reasons #1, 2, and 3.|
I don't ride my bike only to save the planet from climate change. I don't ride my bike just to meet my neighbors. I don't ride my bike simply to release stress. I don't ride my bike just because it's fun. I don't ride my bike only to pay my student loans. I don't just ride my bike so that I can eat more calories. I don't ride my bike simply to take a small stand of solidarity with folks living below the poverty line, many of whom are disproportionately people of color. I don't ride my bike only to improve my city's air quality. I don't just ride my bike because my husband has become a radical active transportation nut and taken me with him. I don't only ride my bike to improve my physical and mental strength and stamina. I don't just ride my bike because it's safer than sitting on my couch or riding in my car. I don't only ride my bike so that my kids feel safer in and more connected to their community. I don't ride my bike just because I think it's wrong to be required to own a car to navigate my city safely, conveniently, and affordably. I ride my bike for all these reasons and more.
I ride my bike because I believe like Bogota mayor and bikeway champion Enriqué Peñalosa that a bicycle and a healthier, better connected, more equitable city makes for something close to "happiness itself."
I ride my bike because I believe a bicycle is "a vehicle for social change and a tool for economic empowerment."
I ride my bike because I love the sights, sounds, and smells of my city, up close and personal, at 8-10 mph--not all of them always easy to take in or the best we can be together--but all of them beautiful because they are part of my increasingly-thriving, economically-scrappy, expansively-diverse, overwhelmingly-compassionate, and inspiringly-creative city planted here in a tangle of suburban sprawl and the rolling Fox River.
I ride my bike because I am a preacher lady who doesn't always take the Bible literally but always takes it seriously and can't stop thinking about the words from Isaiah 58 that teaches those who "loose the bonds of injustice...shall be called the repairer[s] of the breach [and] ...restorer[s] of streets to live in."
I ride my bike because I wonder if the best way to restore the streets isn't to stand out in them and breathe, then walk, ride, or take the bus toward a more whole, just, healthy, connected, fun, and equitable future.
I know it's cold out right now but the weather will soon turn warm and when it does we will watch the bicycles bloom like the city's flowers. In depths of this winter, I invite you to ignite your eternal summer and dream of a the kind of city where everyone can feel comfortable going everywhere by bicycle. That will be the day when I doubt anyone will ask, why I ride my bike.
For now I'll have to pick up my writer's pen and edit this post down to one sentence that I can gift like a newspaper to every person who hollers at me from the sidewalk or a passing car. Tonight let's try this: "I ride my bike because we all deserve to be happy."