When people find out I ride a bike to get around, and to get to work, they often respond with some mix of incomprehension, wonder, or even awe – like as if I am performing some impressive feat of stamina or courage. “More power to ya, man!” I hear, or “Wow, that’s great for you, keep it up!” Or my favorite, “wow, but you must be crazy!” Sometimes, I take some perverse pride in comments like this. I think, “yeah, I am really tough, all right, go me.” Or “it’s a great way to stay in shape”
But on the inside, I know it’s all a sham. Because bicycling to get around a city is yes, one small part craziness, and yes, part really fun, but mostly? I’m just kind of lazy. Biking is simply the quickest, cheapest way to get from point A to point B, while expending the least amount of energy. Walking is kind of slow and tiring, but riding takes like a dozen pedal strokes and you’re at the next block already. Appealing to people’s inner laziness may be the genius behind Bikeshare’s short trips. Most utilitarian city bike riding is not hardcore, not masochistic, and not a crazy feat of courage. It’s just the easiest, laziest way.
When I walk out my door to go somewhere – to work, to get a gallon of milk, to run to the hardware store – the main question I ask myself is, “what’s the easiest way to get there?” Stopping global warming or racking up the miles doesn’t really enter the picture. The bike is sitting right there: it’s faster and requires much less effort than walking, it’s free, there’s unlimited free parking basically everywhere, I can carry anything on it, and there’s no traffic ever.
There have been many times when I have errands and meetings and I just don’t have time to travel any other way – only biking can get me to so many places fast enough.
There are days when life happens, and I don’t have time to both commute and exercise – so I ride and get to do both simultaneously. I’m not trying to win the do-gooder award, I’m just trying to economize the hours in the day – since at heart, I’m kind of lazy.
I have been known to hop on and ride a quarter-mile to the Harris Teeter to get some butter, just because it’s a few minutes faster than walking. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve ridden a Bikeshare bike a whopping 2 blocks to get Dunkin Donuts coffee, out of sheer, unbridled laziness.
So, next time you think that riding a bike around the city is some unattainable achievement reserved for crazy hardcore people, think again. Most riders are probably far from crazy. In fact, they may be bicycling because they’re a little bit lazy.