It’s officially summer, and the beach is beckoning.
After realising the annual shark mania is a steaming pile of cow dung cooked up by newsroom editors to sell papers and get people watching the six o’clock news, you throw a towel, a book and some food in a bag and jump in the car.
It’s been a while since you had it serviced and after a couple of turns of the key it rumbles into action. Who would have thought? Everyone’s heading to the beach today, the traffic is crazy. Eventually you make it to the beach and the car park is full, that’s OK, you know all the quiet local back streets and the sneaky (free) car spaces. Apparently, so does everyone else.
OK, it’s getting late, you just sneakily mount the kerb, lock the door and head to the beach. You frantically search your bag for some change but can’t find any, no worries, no need to pay for parking as technically, you didn’t park in a space.
After a quick dip, a chapter of the latest bestseller and a heathy snack, it’s time to leave. As you’re walking back to the car with the high only a dose of sun, sand and surf can give, you see it there, flapping in the breeze. A parking ticket. “Great’, you mutter as you get in the car, turn the key and start driving home. When you get home you see your old bike hanging up in the garage.
Ok, that’s my first go at writing fiction since high school, and it’s not going to be winning any literary prizes, but I think you get the point. Ride your bike.
Whether it’s to the beach, to the shops, to work, to the pub or just for riding’s sake. In fact the more people out there riding bikes in their normal street clothes the better. You’ll be helping to normalise cycling as a utilitarian mode of transportation – social scientist speak for letting other road users know that bike riding is OK to do as an everyday thing, you don’t need to be some fully kitted out lycra-clad speedster, or some hipster doofus.
You’ll also enjoy the multiple benefits of riding a bike:
- You’re saving money. Apart from the obvious upfront cost of your bike and minimal ongoing minor costs like inner tubes and annual tune-ups, biking is free. Now, whenever a sensational cyclist-bashing tabloid beat-up is published, not naming names *cough* Murdoch papers *cough* we’re told “cyclists should pay registration for their fair share, they use the roads too and run red lights and cut people off!!!1!!!1!!!’. They usually forget that lots of cyclists are also drivers who pay rego on their car.
- You’re getting fit. I’m still puffed out when I get into work each morning, but each week I get less puffed out. Slowly but surely your body will respond to its daily workout and next thing you know you’ll be smashing your record times and looking for a new riding challenge. You might be able to cancel your spin class (see “You’re saving money’).
- You’re sending a message. There was a big time lag between the first mass produced automobile and the first freeway. Of course there were roads and paths for hundreds of years before that, but they were used by horse and cart and bicycles before the speed and sheer numbers of cars necessitated automobile-only high speed freeways.
By getting on two wheels instead of four you are telling policy makers “bikes need space too’. And it’s numbers that count. Plus it’s a pretty good feeling cruising by while cars sit in traffic, after a while you’ll get the grin only a bike rider gets. Some call it smugness, others call it freedom.
You’re saving the planet. Crack out the guitar and sing kumbaya. You’ll be one less car on the road, you’ll be healthier, wealthier and wiser.