Other than on the iciest days, I bike year-round in Waterloo. When I arrive at work or a meeting, helmet in hand, people look at me with a combination of admiration and concern for my mental health.
What they don’t realize is that I bike because I’m lazy. Seriously.
We have one car – mostly by choice. The alternative to biking for me is often walking. And you see, I’m too lazy to do so. I find once you get used to biking in the spring-summer-fall months, it’s really hard to give it up. Biking is probably four or five times faster than walking.
Plus sometimes walking hurts.Three years ago, I herniated a disc in my lower back. While most people with disc problems have trouble sitting, I find my back rebels when I walk on hard pavement too long or sleep on my back. Biking? No problem.
Sometimes in Waterloo, biking is as fast as driving. A few weeks ago, I had an evening meeting in the uptown. Normally I would bike but it had been a long day so my husband suggested I take the car. It probably shaved ten minutes off my journey. What did I do with those ten minutes, you ask. I spent them driving around looking for parking. I love being able to disembark from my bike in front of various stores and simply locking my bike up, rather than finding an elusive spot and then trudging to the places I want to visit.
Biking also allows me to accomplish two things at once: a bit of exercise and a bit of transportation. I also find biking is a far more sociable activity than driving. I’m not locked away behind glass in my own private bubble – I’m in the neighbourhood, among the stores. I can stop on a dime to say hi – and I do.
I like the awareness of my physical environment too. (OK, less on the smog days and not when there’s too much of a windchill.) It reminds me of when we first began buying vegetables from a CSA and it started to dawn on us that there was a connection between the buckets of rain that had fallen each day and the boxes of lettuce and spinach we received. Biking connects me to the world in a real way.
My hesitation in blogging here is that I’m not a bike geek. I don’t have gadgets. I don’t even use all my gears. I sling grocery bags on my handlebars, sometimes remember to put something around my leg so I don’t shred my pants, and only recently braved replacing a faulty chain. But, maybe that’s a good thing too. Maybe it’s good to recognize that biking can be done enthusiastically by regular people. I loved being in Italy two years ago and seeing people of every age using their bikes to negotiate medieval streets. I love noticing here at home that there are more and more people who might technically be able to afford to drive, but who choose otherwise.
Lazy people like me.