There’s lots of great reasons to start to bike places you would normally drive. There’s enjoyment, exercise, environment, cost, oil dependence and many others. I have to say that there are a few on that last that are appealing to me. But none are my primary motivation for forgoing the comfort of the auto and suiting up for a cold ride.
My main reason for going by bike most places is minimalism. Minimalism as a lifestyle is about escaping excess, getting rid of glut, cutting debt, breaking away from ennui. Biking is one of my choices that fits into that motif.
To me the bike represents minimalism compared to cars in several ways. The bike is a much simpler machine compared to a car, it’s much smaller, much more power efficient. It’s the most fundamental form of transportation next to walking. It’s a form mostly stripped of excess.
The bicycle has minimal maintenance costs. They are so simple even a Software Developer can like me can perform most maintenance. I have a few specialized tools around that are used to take care of my bike, but most things can be done with standard wrenches and screwdrivers. I could never say that about my car. With so many systems and so much weight I feel it is better to leave all that to professionals.
The bicycle has minimal size. Next to bipedal transport, the bike’s is the smallest machine that can convey a person effectively. No argument that if I have more people to transport, the bike loses some luster. But for commuting to and from work, some shopping, I don’t need to move more than one person. I also don’t need to worry about finding a parking
space for my bike normally and I can always squeeze to the front of the line and turn right on red no matter how many cars are waiting to go straight. Minimalism has its advantages.
Biking expends minimal energy. Think about what the majority of energy is being used for when you transport a 200 lbs person in a 2300 lbs compact car. Now factor into that the engine can only deliver 1/5 of the gasoline energy into kinetic energy. There is a massive amount of energy investment when moving by car. And most of that energy is wasted as heat, exhaust, and just plain moving ballast around. The bike suffers only minimally from these losses. The bike weight is only around 1/10th the rider weight, the heat losses are only the riders body heat. Although you could argue that the benefit is fitness and this is not really a loss at all. Any exhaust produced is purely coincidental and not related to the production of forward motion.
Simplification is beautiful. Simplification is what you get when you forgo the automobile for a seemingly less convenient bike. No expensive professional maintenance, no extra tonnage, never pay for parking, and while everyone is going insane about the price of gas, I can shrug and say c’est la vie.