Independence and Freedom, Courtesy of the Bicycle

Some of the ways riding a bike makes me feel independent and free:

  • Competence and self-sufficiency: I can fix most basic mechanical problems that would stop me from going down the road. Not all, but I can patch or replace the tube to repair a flat tire, get the chain back onto the derailleur, and fiddle with the brake adjustment if it’s rubbing. Note that I cannot perform any of the equivalent tasks on a car.
  • Convenience: When I feel like taking a ride, I can just go. I don’t have to think about whether there’s gas in the tank or a parking place when I get there. (Personally, I’m fueled by caffeine, chocolate, and the farmers’ market.) And while I appreciate having a good transit system and utilize it in the winter when I can’t ride or when I need a lift up a steep hill, with my bike I’m not tied to anyone’s schedule but mine.
  • Financial freedom: Speaking of gas…. Freedom from knowing what gas costs! Seriously, unless I happen to glance at a station as I bike past (I try to wave at the poor drivers) I couldn’t tell you the price of gas. I understand it’s quite steep.
  • Mobility: It’s much easier to get around in heavy traffic, and that’s without breaking any laws. If I hit a heavy construction zone and cars are backed up, I just switch to the sidewalk as a pedestrian and keep moving. I can get through spaces where a car can’t pass if need be, and I take up a lot less room so it’s easier to maneuver.
  • Freedom to choose a different path: You can take this one metaphorically, and I do mean it that way. On my bike I experience a greater flexibility of thought about how to get from point A to point B. If you’re a driving commuter, when is the last time you drove on different streets just to see what’s on them? Or because that little store looks intriguing and you can stop and check it out quickly without a big hassle? Experts say that trying new things helps keep your brain young; biking is my brain-aerobics every day.
  • Freedom to see through new eyes: Closely related to the path-finding is the way I now think about transportation. For one thing, I don’t take it for granted. For another, I think more broadly about all the ways people and goods move around and I recognize auto-centric thinking, speech, and limitations all the time. I have ridden away from a very confining box, and it’s not the car–it’s the thought patterns that allow themselves to be constrained by its boundaries.

Free yourself. Ride your bike.

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14 Comments to "Independence and Freedom, Courtesy of the Bicycle"

  1. […] Independence and Freedom, Courtesy of the Bicycle […]

  2. […] good cause, and as often as possible with my sweetheart—but always because it’s fun and freedom and now I can’t imagine not […]

  3. […] 3: Enjoy this! You’re embarking on the rediscovery of childhood joy and freedom. Celebrate […]

  4. […] What to WearHappy Bottom: Pedal Panties ReviewWearing Real Clothes: A Radical Political StatementIndependence and Freedom, Courtesy of the BicycleOn a Roll With…. Sharing in Twitterville […]

  5. […] I love the way riding my bike has led to greater feelings of mechanical competence. I can fix things on my bike that I can’t fix on a car, which means I’m less helpless […]

  6. […] get a flat tire (and realize that the ability to fix a flat is one of the great empowerment moments riding a bike offers–it’s a lot easier than on your car and a whole lot cheaper, […]

  7. […] know your bike makes a difference in your life. It gives you a sense of independence or style or a respite from the demands of […]

  8. […] that feeling when you learned to ride a bike as a kid? Riding a bike meant freedom, independence, the ability to get somewhere under your own power instead of relying on others to supply the […]

  9. […] Independence and Freedom, Courtesy of the Bicycle: Ways in which the bike has freed me from limitations […]

  10. […] mean to you? A question on Quora I’ve been meaning to answer. Lots of answers so far in the freedom and independence vein, which is one of my […]

  11. […] The wider tires and shock-absorbing qualities of the seat design smoothed out Spokane’s cracks and cobbles in a way I greatly appreciated. What I don’t know is how I’d fix a flat, given the dynamo generator on the front for the lights and the different gearing set-up on the back that change the way I’d take a tire off and put it back on, so I’d have to take a class to feel competent. […]

  12. […] Do you value independence? Bikes can give you even more of that than driving. The rewards of mindfulness, health, weight loss, a feeling of strength, and more can all be yours if you ride. I’m all for mindful driving, mind you, but have a hard time seeing that any of these other things are on the reward list for driving. […]

  13. […] If anything went wrong with the bike, thanks to that job I had the resources to pay for repairs, since at that time I lacked the ability to so much as fix a flat tire. […]

  14. […] to that job I had the resources to pay for gear and repairs, a good thing too since at that time I lacked the ability to so much as fix a flat tire. I could afford bike gear such as a headlight (required by law) and a better bike when I was ready […]

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