Two months ago I sold my car. Living downtown, I just didn’t use it enough to justify the cost of having it do nothing but sit in a parking spot. Last spring I dug my bike out of storage for the first time in ten years to get fit before I turned forty. A year later, and I’m committed to cycling as my main mode of transportation. The new bike lanes on Hornby and Dunsmuir Streets were definitely a factor in the decision; I have a safe way to get my son to daycare every day. But the truth? I love it. I love the freedom, I love the fresh perspective on my surroundings, I love the example I’m setting for my boy.
There are many reasons cycling is touted as a good thing to do: it’s non-polluting, it eases traffic congestion, it’s something almost anyone can do. I’m not going to bore you with those, we all know them. I’m going to tell you, mom to mom, why cycling in Vancouver – and downtown, in particular – rocks.
My normal, everyday, bedhead medusa hair gets a pass when I’m carrying a bike helmet. “It’s cool,” the bike helmet says to anyone who notices. “I’ve just cycled here. I’ve been cycling. I didn’t drive. I got rained on. I was cycling.” On a good day, it says, “I am above such petty concerns.” Awesome, right? One less step to getting ready to leave the house in the morning means more sleep. That rocks.
Cold Hard Cash
Now that I never have to plug a parking meter – as anyone driving instead of cycling in Vancouver must – I’m never short of coins. Coins for laundry in my 1960s apartment building, coins for the child-pleasing kiddie ride at the grocery store. So many coins we actually toss them in fountains and make wishes! I ask you: what’s better than seeing a struggling musician smile when a three year old carefully places a couple of loonies in his guitar case? That rocks.
Also, our grocery budget’s gone down dramatically. Knowing I have to get everything home in a couple of panniers, I really only buy the things we need. No impulse purchases, no “maybe I’ll make that for dinner” and then the food rots in the fridge because I’ve forgotten about it. Our food’s fresher, we’re wasting less of it, and I’m buying more at neighbourhood shops instead of giant multinational food stores. Keeping money in the local economy? That rocks, too.
Resistance is Futile
I am not a go-to-the-gym kind of girl. I’m just not. If exercise isn’t worked into my day sneaky-like, it’s not going to happen. Having no car means cycling rain or shine, feel like it or not. Adding 25 pounds of trailer and 35 pounds of child is an instant boost to the resistance in my exercise regime. I’m stronger, I’m fitter, and I feel like I have sudden superpowers when I get on the bike without the trailer, the same way you almost hit yourself in the head the first time you bend your arm after a hard set of bicep curls. Except without the hitting yourself in the head part. And despite eating my own body weight in chocolate every day, I’ve lost three pounds. That really rocks.
Do you go cycling in Vancouver – or wherever you happen to live? What do you love about it?