When I was young and learning to drive a car, the vehicle felt large, hard to control and—to me—dangerous. A horse weighs about half a ton. A car weighs from about a ton on up. But my bike weighs less than I do, which to me means better control and less damage to others if I lose control.
That seemed to be my initial impetus, when I was a teenager, for sticking with my bike instead of driving a car. In fact, I never got a license. I have never owned a car or driven one on the road. For my whole life (I am now 60) I have depended on my legs, my bike, and public transport systems.
I didn’t become aware of the whole environmental impact aspect of driving cars until I was older. But all that did was give me another reason not to use them.
Later still I learned that several non-polluting (electric) urban transport systems had been trashed to make room for gas-powered cars. This gave the whole issue a certain power-and-control twist. A person is easier to control if he depends on a car and gas to get around. I would prefer to not be that easy to control.
When I was young I used to pick books off my dad’s bookshelf to read. One such book was Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward.” One point Bellamy made was that wasting energy was economically foolish. That didn’t totally click with me until I read the book again years later. Taking a bike when you don’t need to drive DOES reduce energy waste. Another thing Bellamy predicted that a spiritually enlightened government would do (should one ever come into existence) would be to devise awnings for all the sidewalks so that people could walk about outdoors even if it was raining. I still think this is a great idea, and of course should be extended to bikeways.
Today I live in what could be described as a suburban area and still do not own a car, but do have two bikes. It’s not an easy life, but I prefer it this way. The thrill of riding a bike is palpable, as is the pleasure of being more in contact with the air, the road, and life around you. I recommend and encourage it for anyone who is physically able.