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Like a lovely green tunnel. I love the bike trails in the spring!

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This week is Bike Commute week, an annual event that I decided to get a little more involved in this year. This has gotten me thinking a lot about bicycles and why I love them. In fact, I spent most of my ride home a week or two ago counting all the reasons I love bikes. 

Bicycles are such elegant little machines. When you’re on a bike, you just hum along so quickly and quietly, and the only energy you use is from your own body. It seems almost ridiculous to mention the environmental benefit of bike-riding, because that’s such an obvious reason to ride a bike. But hey! It’s serious stuff.

You can actually carry a lot of stuff on a bike.

Riding a bike is a good opportunity to examine the countryside- you see things you would never catch in your car. Last year I saw a family of bobcats while I was riding through Hatfield. Bobcats!

Bike-riding is so, so fun. Is there anything more delightful than spinning down the road on a warmish spring day, with the sun and the wind on your face? There’s no reason that only kids should get to enjoy that feeling. And even in the dead of winter, when it’s so cold that everything is completely still, there something special about moving quietly through the freezing air on your bike. And that’s something that doesn’t happen when you’re trudging along on foot or cranking the heat in your car.

Bikes are for everyone. You don’t need any special equipment (except a helmet), or spandex, or to be part of a club.

I guess the real reason I love my bike is that feeling when you see the light turn green ahead, and you decide (responsibly!) that you’re going for it, and you crank away (carefully!) and you make it, and you just sail through the intersection (while looking both ways!) and you just think, “YES!!”

So, back to the environmental piece for a minute. Michael Pollan wrote an article for the New York Times sunday magazine a few weeks ago called “Why Bother?” which, like a lot of his writing, was mostly about gardening and food. But in it, he writes about Wendell Berry’s concept of the “cheap energy mind,” which basically is the mindset that most Americans have that takes cheap fuel as a given when making decisions, which I’ve been thinking about in terms of transportation. Most people don’t think of their bikes, or their feet, as a primary means of transportation, because fuel has been so cheap for so long. Well, why can’t we be a little more deliberate in our decisions about how we get around? Why do our cars have to be the only way we can think of to transport ourselves? Why should bicycling be this segmented activity that we only participate in during designated leisure or exercise time? When did anything other than driving become something like a novelty to so many people, when bicycling is actually so practical? I hope that Bike Commute Week will connect the dots for some people here in the Valley, and get some more people out of their cars and (safely!) onto their bikes.

If you live here and feel all inspired and fired up about bikes now, take advantage of the events being offered this week all around the Valley. Find out more about MassBike and get involved. And, at the risk of quoting Queen, get on your bikes and ride!

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I was in Oklahoma City for a conference for a few days this past week, and I came away with really mixed feelings about the conference and a certain amount of pity for Oklahoma City. It actually had some charm, but what it was lacking was any people at all. It was like a ghost town. Anyway, there was a botanical garden pretty much on the same block as my hotel, which I guess is what I mean when I say the city had some charm. Here are some pictures to remind us northerners that spring is coming, and the world won’t be so monochromatic soon!

         

          

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