Comment of the week

“I’m surprised that saving money on gas and being better for the environment are at the bottom of the poll. WTF people? Yeah riding a bike is fun, we know that and we’ve known that since we were kids. Maybe it’s not sticking it to the oil companies since I bet a lot of you also drive monster SUVs/trucks but commuting by bike does make a statement and that should be first and foremost in out thoughts. Hey it’ll always be fun right?” -John

So here’s my 2 cents: My vote was that I do this for the fun of it (yeah, I do get to test some cool commuter stuff), but besides that… After riding my bike to work for over 3 years, I’ve learned that the thought of ‘making a statement’ in Los Angeles is muted by the car-loving, Escalade worshiping culture that reigns L.A. Gas prices don’t seem to take any effect on them neither, and I doubt that me riding my bike and smiling as I pass them thru traffic will make them think “Hey, that dude is doing something good for the environment”.

So what makes it fun? Passing all those cars that are stuck in Florence Blvd for 3 long blocks and smiling as I do so.

15 Comments

  1. Rick February 7, 2008 12:29 pm 

    If you own a car, how much money do you really save? I’m looking out my window and gas is currently $2.93. If I ride instead of drive for 250 miles to save myself enough money to buy a nice set of fenders (about $30).

    I do care about the environment. It’s nice to keep a little bit of the carbon in the Earth. But, if it was my main reason for commuting, Iwould be out regardless of the weather.

    The real reason is that it is fun. I hate everything about driving. I dread getting into a car. A bike is fun. You know the great feeling you have after a bike ride? It makes my day at work a little better.

  2. Ghost Rider February 7, 2008 12:41 pm 

    Statement. Hah. While I’d love to believe that folks seeing me out on my bike, having fun and saving gas and keeping my ass from growing might compel them to give up their gas-burning ways, I am a cold-hearted realist: folks are gonna keep doing what they’re doing even if science and finances are staring them in the face.

    For me, it is ALL about fun. Everything else is a distant second.

    I also REALLY object to the “you probably drive an SUV/Truck, too” comment. While it IS true that I own a small, relatively fuel-efficient truck, I drove a grand total of 1100 miles between 2004 and today. If you’re having trouble with the math, that’s FOUR YEARS…roundabout 250 miles a year. I ought to sell that damn thing…it gets such little use!

  3. Ben C February 7, 2008 12:49 pm 

    What statement is there that has not been made by all of us who commute by bike? Most of us probably ride for the fun of it. I do. The benefits that comes with our decision to commute by bike is that we are healthier, stronger, focused at work, and earn our buns of steel.

    When I drive, I notice a difference in my day. I am not as focused. I appreciate the riders who are out there in cold weather and hot. We are a group that is willing to endure a small element in comparison to the personal rewards of riding.

    Keep Wheeling!!

  4. Noah February 7, 2008 12:54 pm 

    Let’s face it, if it wasn’t enjoyable, not very many people would be doing it. There are very few people who begrudgingly hop on their bicycles every day just because they want to save the world. There are a few (which is odd to me) but by far, almost all cyclists I know agree on the fact that bike riding is FUN, even if they disagree on everything else.

  5. Val February 7, 2008 1:17 pm 

    To me, the real point of the survey is that yes, we all recognize that making the environment better and saving money on gas are excellent reasons to ride (WTF? We’ve know that for years, right?), but the BIGGEST reason (far from the only) we ride is for the fun. Considering some of the goofy and destructive things that people do for fun that have NO other reasons to justify them (jetski, motocross, snowmobile, downhill skiing), this just puts bike riding head and shoulders above many active pursuits, and gives us hope that it may start to appeal to more people. I know that I have had more than one person tell me that my example inspired them to get on their bikes, and this is without any preaching on my part – all I did was ride.

  6. Paul February 7, 2008 3:05 pm 

    I’d like to think that every minute I ride is fun. My commute to work is only 5 miles, the last 2 are up some tough climbs. Not always fun. I have climbed this stinking hill on and off for 10 years. But the clincher this winter is that I’m sick of being manipulated by oil companies that have record profits, and come up with excuse after excuse to jerk us around! No matter what you idea of fun is, commuting by bike is a nice option to have.

  7. Brendan February 7, 2008 3:05 pm 

    The best part about that poll is that there is no bad answer — all the choices are good things. I don’t know how much I’m sticking it to the oil companies with my sub-2-mile commute, but I know I’m usually in the mood to re-route my course to add 10 extra miles on the way home. I’ve never gotten in my car and said, “Hell, it’s a beautiful day. I think I’m going to drive around the city for a while before I head home.”

  8. Lance February 7, 2008 3:28 pm 

    When I ask myself why I hop on the bike at 5 in the morning it sure isn’t to cheat Chevron out of $5. It’s a nice perk but it’s all about being healthy and having fun doing it, I agree.

    If I wasn’t having fun riding I sure as hell wouldn’t be putting up with various morons(drivers) yelling “Get on the sidewalk!” or “You should watch out for ME!” every day.

  9. russ roca February 7, 2008 3:28 pm 

    I ride with the environment in mind but I also do it because it’s FUN and financially it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than car ownership.

    I think pleasure is a greater motivator than guilt (unless you’re catholic :) . That is why I think the pleas to get the public on a bike have to be tempered with messages that say 1) biking is FUN 2) biking is good for the earth.

    Look at the huge explosion in bike riding in the 20-something demographic over fixed gears. Something tells me it was more fun/cool imaging that got them on a bike than it was melting glaciers. Sad but true. What I’m finding though, is that kids that stick to it develop other reasons to keep riding (health, environment, etc.,), but it was the fun that got them on there in the first place.

    And one more point, I find the true cost of car ownership is really interesting. Beyond just gas, you have to factor in insurance, registration, monthly payments (unless you own…which I don’t think a lot of people do), paying for parking (I use to go to UCLA and on some streets it was 25 cents for 10 minutes!), parking tickets, speeding tickets, oil changes, repairs (changing brake pads on your bike is only $6 compared to how much on a car?)

  10. Ghost Rider February 7, 2008 4:03 pm 

    Amen on the hidden costs of car ownership. I’m lucky that our cars are both long-ago paid off, but even with the tiny amount we use ’em, we still pay a crapload for insurance and all that other jazz. Ugh.

    Anyone wanna buy a beat up Nissan truck? I’ll throw in a handful of “Gas Sucks — Ride a Bike” stickers to sweeten the deal!

  11. Jeff the Veloteer February 7, 2008 5:41 pm 

    Maybe I am odd, or maybe I am just stuck in “Catholic-mode” as Russ might suggest, but I have gotten myself to the point where I feel gross when I start my car – and I still do it more than I would like. When I hear about people like Jack driving 1000 miles in 4 years, or Russ riding his bike to all of his photo shoots, I start drooling, wishing I had the nerve, endurance or not-so-spreadout living arrangement to do that too.

    That being said, that gross feeling in my guy got me onto my bike, but it is certainly the fun that keeps me on my bike each morning (except today…ehh).

    One tangential point: Val mentioned destructive tendencies that have NO point…well, call it the skier in me, but your argument points at just about ANY recreational sport, and most recreational habits. And that is a dangerous place to go, because then we start arguing about which “fun” is real.

  12. Antoine February 7, 2008 6:30 pm 

    My commute to work is only 4 miles. Why would I start up my car for that distance? Petrol is considerably more expensive in New Zealand than the USA but I don’t save much money by biking. I have fun, get some exercise and arrive at work energised.

    We have two cars in our family. I’m using mine less and less as I bike around our neighbourhood running errands with my two year old along for the ride in the bike trailer behind me. When I have to drop off her two older brothers to sports training for example, in different parts of town, in a limited time span, I take the car with no guilt at all. Horses for courses…

  13. Jett February 8, 2008 1:16 pm 

    Well, there’s all kinds of ways to have fun and the United States marketing and entertainment machine exploits this. Our waste is their gain.

    Cycling is fun, but also efficiently accomplishes counter-waste goals: air quality, obesity reduction, CO2 reduction, traffic and congestion.

    Cycling also strengthens our self-image and makes us less vulnerable to the entertainment machine.

  14. Wayne Myer February 9, 2008 6:53 am 

    I think this demonstrates that even the most well-intentioned people are fundamentally selfish. As others have mentioned, who cares if it is good for the environment if it is a miserable thing to do? How would you possibly get anyone to do it more if it was onerous?

    Fortunately for bicycle commuting, we can arrive invigorated and happy, while (hopefully) reducing our load on the environment.

  15. Gabriel February 9, 2008 9:41 pm 

    I’m tremendously happy and proud of the environmental impact of my decision to ride to work instead of drive, although the commute is an almost comically miniscule 3 miles. But I’m still riding for the same reason my 6-year-old does: It’s fun. If it sucked, I’d take the bus.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *