“How then do I live it?”

Published 2010-07-26

Dave Moulton writes:

Pro-cycling change is happening all over the US, and I believe it is partly because of this change that the non cycling public is kicking against it; people don’t like change.

This is probably true but I think it's more than just fear of change driving anti-bike hatred. I think there's an element of cognitive dissonance or outright denial. No one thinks oil is getting cheaper; consider then that our prosperity is built entirely upon it. It's scary to confront the likelihood that our Happy Days are limited. We are entering a future where everything but physical labor will get more expensive; any contraption that makes physical labor more productive (e.g. bikes), will serve us well in that future.

Big issues like energy aside, there's a personal aspect of cognitive dissonance: living a bikey lifestyle is cheaper, easier, happier and healthier. My commute is a bike ride through the woods. It costs nothing and makes me skinnier. I have a stronger heart than men half my age, despite a steady diet of donuts and beer.

I've run the numbers on this many times. By maintaining only one car my family saves about $6000/year. I burn 2500-3000 extra calories a week. And it's fun.

From my perspective, the only reason everyone doesn't live like this is because they are cognitively blocked from imagining the possibility. I'm not athletic or tough or outdoorsy. I just ride my bike to work. I've been told to my face that my lifestyle is impossible. Impossible! How then do I live it?

If I saw someone just like me living a better life for less money ... how would that make me feel?

Update, 1:15 pm PDT

Obviously not everyone can ride their bike everywhere all the time; some people have physical conditions that prevent them from doing so.

I also don’t mean to imply that non-bikey people are lazy; for the record I think all people are lazy, just in different ways. (For example: one of the reasons I ride bikes everywhere is because they are much easier to maintain than cars. I’m really lazy about getting our car serviced.)

I honestly believe that more people would ride their bikes more often, but fail to imagine their own lives ordered in such a way that it’s easy, convenient, or pleasant.