Why'd I bike to work today? If it were only about being green and sustainable and holier than thou because I opted for 2 wheels and no petrol to reduce my carbon footprint, then I'd just toot the "work from home" horn.
If I was serious about saving energy, then I'd save lots more by just not getting out of bed. Plus, those extra zzz's would probably be as much a health benefit as riding, and certainly less of a safety hazard.
So why did I get up at 6:15 this morning to join other Chareston Moves members and bike commuters for our annual Ride to Work Day? Yes, I like burning nearly 400 calories just by getting to work (then enjoying that bagel with a little extra cream cheese after I get there). Yes, I like feeling energized and empowered and pumped up for a productive day after hoofing it over the bridge first thing. Yes, I'm happy to pocket the few extra bucks I saved in gas just for one trip, not to mention all the bucks that add up from parking fees, parking tickets, car upkeep, etc., etc. And, of course, I like cruising past all the cars stuck in morning-rush traffic on Coleman Boulevard, East Bay Street, and Calhoun as I head toward the office.
But that's not why I ride.
I ride because of the outrageously vibrant window box ablaze with some extravagent, exotic pink blossoms on Warren Street. I ride because I get to pause and listen to the world's loveliest fountain say it's morning prayer by the Chapel Street Park. I ride because it slows my mind, revs my inner engine, attunes my senses, and piques my curiousity about who and what I pass (because on a bicycle, you actually SEE who and what you pass). I say "hello" and "good morning" to strangers. I am not sending a silent text or pithy tweet—I am making eye contact and voice contact, practicing the dying art of real, live human/neighbor interaction.
I ride because it's not only the most efficient way to move around my Mount Pleasant neighborhood and around the compact peninsula, but because it's the most pleasant way to move around and through and within the nooks and crannies that make this place unique and wonderful. I ride because a bicycle does not just get me from one place to another, it enables that place to get to me, to become part of me. It changes the way I move through the world and the way it moves through me. And it's fun. Much more fun than bitching at bad drivers and traffic jams.
So if you missed Bike to Work Day this morning, never fear. There's an opportunity every day to ride to work, or to the store, or to your neighbor's for a good old-fashioned drop-in visit—to remember the joys of when you were seven years old and a bicycle was the only freedom you had. It's still that fun, that freeing. Give it a try.
(It may not be the top reason that I ride, but these health benefits are pretty big bonuses...)
Interested in riding with the pack this weekend? Battery2Beach Route Rides are happening tomorrow, Saturday, May 18. Find more information at CharlestonMoves.com