Friday, June 19, 2015


In this country, biking is not just about riding a bicycle. It’s a state of mind. And a fairly complex one at that.

First, biking is about independence. There’s a tremendous sense of empowerment that comes with the ability to jump on a bike and, with no gas or oil or electricity, or even roads, to go almost anywhere. Under your own power. And even a moderately competent person can maintain a bike. That’s liberation, with just a hint of self-righteous smugness.

There’s also an element of subversiveness to biking. Let’s face it. Unlike much of the rest of the world, in this country, biking is something of an act of defiance. It’s a way of thumbing your nose1 not only at the hordes of people bumbling around in cars and SUVs, but at the energy companies that are the very fabric of our country. It’s a way of just saying “no” to the industries and market forces that want you to knuckle under and behave like everyone else.

And still, in addition to all the health benefits and stress reduction and environmental benefits to biking, there’s also a strong sense of community. Bikers are a kind of tribe, perhaps because of that shared sense of independence and subversiveness. Boston has a lot of bike-oriented events, including bike breakfasts, commuter convoys, cycle celebrations and other alliterative activities. And at all of these, you see hundreds of strangers come together, talking about their latest traffic nightmare or the latest gear they’ve started using or the best route from A to B. That’s powerful. That shared sense of identity as bikers helps to form some very strong bonds.

Of course, there are still assholes. You always get those.

1Does anyone still do that?

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