I started riding for money.
We became a one-car family for a time. “I’ll just bike to work,” I said, “when it’s convenient.” I got a ride whenever possible. Sometimes I biked to work, and got a ride home. Or I caught a ride to work, but took my bike with me, and biked home. Sometimes I left my bike on campus. Sometimes I left it at home.
When I did bike, I liked to calculate how much gas money I was saving on that trip. Of course, when we were a little more financially stable, we’d buy a car.
I continued riding for health.
I had major abdominal surgery and got scared about my health. Would I recover from surgery? I’d heard that some people never did. As soon as I was able, I started doing stomach crunches. Soon I could do one sit-up a night. Instead of biking when I had to, I biked every trip I could.
I was confused about how I was supposed to bike. Should I be on the sidewalk or the street? I read everything I could find about it.
I found the League of American Bicyclists. I took Traffic Skills 101. I joined the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, and the League. I became a League Certified Instructor. I got a new bike. I lost 30 pounds.
I could do 100 sit-ups.
A friend thought I rode because I’m “green” (environmentally conscious). “You’re not broke and you’re not a drunk,” she explained, “so I assumed you were green.” I guess she couldn’t think of any other reason I’d choose to bike! I like trees and I think we should be more careful of our earth. But that’s not why I bike. It’s a bonus that makes me feel smug and self-righteous.
It turned out that all along, I had been riding for safety. I thought I was riding to save money, and because it was healthy. I discovered the real reason when my 15 yr old daughter on her bike was hit by a truck, right in front of me. She recovered fully within a couple months. It took me a little longer. The funny thing was, after the wreck, we were both ok with getting on a bike, but we were nervous getting in a car.
I knew why. Several years ago, before I started riding, my little 9 yr old cousin was killed in a car wreck. I hated to put our then-7 yr old daughter in a car after that. But what choice did we have? When I started biking, I discovered a choice. What a relief to be free of the deadly car! Learning car and bike wreck statistics and the League’s recommended best practices gave me even more control over our safety.
I guess I go by contraries. Everyone else out there is afraid to bike to work because they think it is so dangerous. I bike to work because I think driving is too dangerous!