Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Warning! Cycling can be addictive.

UIC Cyclists, from I BIKE UIC on Facebook
"Warning! Cycling can be addictive," cautions Amy Walker in Chapter One of On Bicycles- Fifty ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life, a compilation of fifty short essays on all things bicycle (technical information, travel and safety tips, dressing for the weather, philosophy, advocacy history, economic benefits of bike businesses, and more). Its purpose is to inspire those who are new to cycling or expert, and it succeeds fifty times over.

Albert Einstein’s famous quote about his theory of relativity, “I thought of that while riding my bicycle,” shows that cycling is about more than just speeding around in Spandex. Cycling is for anyone who chooses it, and more and more people are consciously deciding not to travel by car, choosing instead to enjoy the freedom and joy of being outside, self-propelled.

Deciding to use a bicycle as your primary means of transportation is a valid choice for a host of reasons - it’s not just students and messengers anymore. The authors raise legitimate, rational questions about how our culture, landscapes, and funding streams are car-dominated. Obstacles notwithstanding, this book will show you the way to be car-free and happy about it. Pointing out that children, seniors, and families should (but currently cannot) cycle comfortably and safely around their neighborhoods and towns, it details the efforts of many cities, including Chicago, that are making strides in this direction.

Note: studies indicate that slowing traffic increases safety for everyone- cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. And, frankly, many of us - cyclists and drivers - could stand to polish up our manners and demonstrate courtesy. All of our experiences will be more pleasant if we do. On Bicycles shows how biking is very practical for short trips and shopping. Along with all the other health and monetary benefits, biking is FUN and lets you interact with surroundings in a way that cars cannot. As Todd Litman, founder and director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute writes, "A lifestyle that includes plenty of cycling can make you healthy, wealthy, and free."   Emphasis on free.

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