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Your speed and your knowledge of your built environment

Updated: Mar 15, 2019

Disclaimer: biking has changed my life, and thus I am biased to the mode, but...

I am beyond hooked—I am dependent. [Ironic] questions that might arise in response to this statement: hooked on what, exactly? Going slower? Being sweaty when you arrive at work? Feeling at the end of the day like you've run a marathon?



The original chariot.

The original chariot, a real boss of a commuter.


Though the irony is lost on me. Or, I left it behind a long time ago. With the blind enthusiasm of a child (yet another reason why I've taken to two slow wheels over four "faster" ones), I see those supposed inconveniences (and many other non-biker's sardonic inquiries) as major bonuses.

Let's focus on the first—speed—as it is the central facet of the experience on which most non-bikers focus. "I'd be worried about being late," they say. Or: "I'd have to get up earlier, make time to change at work, feel less composed..." Sort of, yes, yes ... and no.

All these supposed downsides are advantages. Hear me out.

The time it takes for me to prepare for a ride, take the ride, clean up from the ride is time I'm not on my phone. It's time I'm not spending watching TV... The time remaining must be focused on the good stuff: rehashing the day with my wife, cooking an inspired meal from scratch, reading or writing poems, working on a news story for the paper.

I am not just more connected on my bike, I am more thoughtful and thus am a better worker. And I am these in part because I am relaxed and more inspired.

Delving deeper into the idea of lost time... I am always amazed at critics who cite time "lost" as the greatest factor in their decision not to ride (or work out, or garden, or read a book, or...), for they are missing the greatest advantage of the ride itself: the time it provides to muse, observe, solve, plan, and dream.

When I arrive at work post bike commute, the day is clearly before me: I know my first action items, I am calmed and ready for them, I am level, keen, and, most importantly, I am in a good mood. Same goes at the end of the day. The stresses of work are usually gone mid-commute. Can you say the same happens while fighting your way home in your car?

The title of this post mentions built environment, so I'll conclude with that and then kick you into some good reading for further consideration.

When I ride, I see more and hear more. I feel more. And, I feel more integrated with my city, neighborhood, and block. I can't tell you how many news story or poem ideas have ambushed me whilst pedaling. The slowness discussed earlier is the catalyst: the human mind is amazing, but it muses along at its own pace, and very little can be done to shorten the time it takes for incoming sensory data to trigger an initial idea which then connects with the web of experience to synthesize inspiration. Especially if we're clipping along at a cool 65 MPH.

I am not just more connected on my bike, I am more thoughtful and thus am a better worker. And I am these in part because I am relaxed and more inspired.

Now that I've whetted your appetite, consider the following:


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