I suppose that the superior elegance of bicycle transportation is nowhere more clearly understood than while riding in the city. That is the environment that allows so many comparisons with other means of transport. It is true that, on my rural rides, I sometimes feel like a clipper ship sailing through waves of prairie grass. But mostly I’m isolated in my movement. The cows stand there chewing, and I sail by. There is an elegance of flow across the empty rolling landscape, but no basis for comparison.
Compared to automobiles, pedestrians, trains, and buses, the elegance of the bicycle glows like the the warm light of a well-established campfire on a crisp fall evening. Trains and buses require the traveler to adjust to rigid, established routes and schedules. Traveling by car requires the traveler to spend great gobs of time queuing at all manner of traffic controllers, for the number of cars is staggering and they consume so much space. Then, there is even more cumbersomeness. The car must be stored someplace not proximal to the start or destination. The pedestrian fares better than these constricted and constrained noise-making contraptions, but he moves so slowly. He must bear the entire burden of his daily appurtenances. He transfers his weight from one foot to the other in a long series of hammer jolts. All these, from the saddle of a bicycle, seem utterly barbaric.
I notice all these things while riding through the city. The advantages of my mode of travel stand out in stark contrast to my fellow travelers. My wheels roll smoothly on a route that I choose. In the numerous bike lanes, I roll past so many stopped cars directly up to the intersection at traffic lights. My bicycle carries my load, and simply glides through the city silently, smoothly, and swiftly. The bicycle shines as the elegant aristocracy of transportation like the moon outshines the stars.
Very thoughtful comparison. I often feel this way, like I’m my own master, choosing my own journey down tree-lined bike paths while the cacophony of noisy vehicles and sirens on an interstate is close by through those same woods.
Personally, I think the BEST place to ride a bike is wherever you happen to be! You’ll have to come try it in Ocean Shores. Little traffic, lots of street choices, and lots of places to go. Bike lanes somehow seem irrelevant in such a place.
Agree. Sailing across the prairie is great, and so is urban gliding. I’d love to get back to the PNW for a visit. I enjoyed every trip I’ve made up there.
So true. So well said sir.
I enjoy both types of riding as well. I’ve also found that I seem to enjoy them more when I ride after dark. I think everything feels a little more muted and calm, though occasionally, when riding after dark on a quiet remote trail, I can’t help but wonder what animals may be watching me. Perhaps because I once had a coyote cross my path about 40 feet in front of me.
I hope to do more night riding this winter, and not let the short days slow me down too much.