Obvious benefits

  • Health.
    • If you trade some of your car-time for bike-time, then you will obviously be less sedentary.
    • Physical exercise has so many knock-on benefits (mental, emotional, social, etc.). I won’t spend any more time enumerating them.
  • Finances.
    • I sold my car a few years ago. I found that a bike sufficed for getting around Madison—even in winter.
    • This has reduced my expenses considerably. I no longer have to think about (i) fuel, (ii) car insurance, (iii) maintenance, or (iv) car payments. Easily thousands of dollars per year.
    • I spend maybe $50 per year on bike maintenance. Inner tubes, lubricant, and miscellaneous parts.

My bicycle constrains me in useful ways

  • I always try to live within biking distance of work. I want my commute to be short and invigorating—not long and draining.
  • I run fewer superfluous errands.
  • My choices tend to be more environmentally friendly.
  • The 5-7-5 structure of a haiku constrains the poet; a LASSO penalty constrains the regressor; and a bicycle constrains me.

Experiencing your surroundings

  • Cars put a glass screen between you and the world.
  • A bicycle immerses you in the sights, sounds, and smells of your environment.
  • A bike exposes you to the elements—a good thing in moderate doses.

Zen and the art of bicycle maintenance

  • Learning some simple bicycle maintenance can be very enriching.
  • A bicycle is simple enough that you can easily learn how to maintain it. You still get a sense of accomplishment from fixing it up, though.
  • In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the author talks about the “Dionysian” and “Appollonian” perspectives on motorcycle maintenance (among other things). The same insights apply to bicycle maintenance.
  • We can switch between Dionysian and Appollonian perspectives while we’re riding and fixing our bike, respectively.

Some interesting examples of bike-centric cultures

  • Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin
  • These places are economically strong and culturally interesting.
  • They are extremely accessible by bicycle. The people who live in these places ride their bikes all the time, for all sorts of reasons.
  • Their quality of life is visible in their faces – I don’t remember seeing stressed out or angry people on the bike paths of Amsterdam. (They were all quite fit, too.)

\( \blacksquare\)