That’s what I like to say. Riding a bike, surrounded by the outside world, provides direct experience with the sky, the trees, the birds and the bees, which driving in a car doesn’t allow. Since you are going slower, there is more time to take in the view and the scents. (This April the lilac and black locust blossom perfumes were supreme!) I still feel like a kid when I ride my bike; there is a sense of freedom, adventure and playfulness using this mode to swoop around town. Commuting to work and running errands while leaving the car in the driveway saves gas (currently $3.70 per gallon) and thereby money, cuts down on pollution and traffic congestion and increases fitness levels (so many benefits rolled into one activity).
Columbia has become much more bike-friendly in recent years thanks to a federally funded program that allocated $25 million to build a biking infrastructure connecting all parts of town and to promote non-motorized transportation to the community via GetAbout Columbia. Another local organization, the PedNet Coalition, advocates and educates about bicycling as an alternative to car use.
The weather is warmer now, making it an ideal time for the 11th Annual Mayor’s Challenge: Bike, Walk & Wheel Week. From May 12-19 participate in events designed to encourage and challenge the citizens of Columbia to leave their cars at home. If your bike needs a tune-up before it can be ridden, check the local yellow pages or the internet for bike shops; there are several in town. If you don’t have a bike you might consider buying a used one (ask the bike shops or check Craigslist online), or if funds allow, purchase a new one! If you need reacquainting with your bike after a long hiatus, consider studying up on biking safety or take a course to gain confidence with cycling in town. If the biking really takes off for you and you find yourself spending more time in this active mode, you may want to add some basic bike maintenance and repair skills to your set, i.e., how to fix a flat tire, because invariably this will happen when you are out and about (by the way, it’s easier than changing a car tire).
I just did a quick tally of my routine weekly biking miles. Between my short trips to and from work and the gym I log in 832 miles per year. Wow! It really does add up to something significant. Happy biking!