Every child in the world loves riding a bike. The moment when you can get rid of the training wheels and ride on your own is probably one of the first kind of freedom that a child can enjoy (and of course, their parents will probably remember that moment forever).
Yet, when we grow up and we are no longer children, the society we live in pushes us towards cars as the primary mode of transportation. This is what happened to me as well: I only rode a bike when I was a kid and only as entertainment during summer vacations at my grandparents’ place. As I grew up and my grandparents eventually died, I stopped riding a bike. In fact, I cannot even remember when was the last time that I rode a bike at all.
During mid and high-school, my parents had the task of moving me around. By car, of course. Because everyone uses a car to move around in the small city I grew up in. That, or maybe a moped which are very popular in Italy. Even in the biggest city I had near home, which was Rome, everyone uses a car or a moped to move around. So, naturally, learning to drive and buying my own car were very important goals that I had to reach as soon as possible, because that was all I know.
After I started to travel to other countries in Europe, I eventually realized that in some cities, people actually move around using bikes. And I first realized that while standing on a bike lane in Berlin without even knowing what a bike lane was.
Last year I moved to Florence, which can be described as a bike-friendly city, way more than Rome at least. There are quite a lot of bike lanes in Florence and many people use bikes. So after a few months here I casually decided to buy a bike, as I just wanted to try those bike lanes and I needed to do some sport anyway. And oh boy, it was fucking awesome.
Riding a bike is a ton of fun, even if you are not a kid. But I already knew that, I guess. What I absolutely did not know was that riding a bike is the fastest way to move around in a city. With my bike I can reach the city center in about 15 minutes (~ 5 Kilometers). I’d need at least double that time if I used public transport. If I took my car I’d probably need the same time as public transport, with the additional problem of finding a parking slot (which is usually a very hard task in most cities).
Think about this for a second:
- Moving around with a bike is the fastest mode of transportation for small distances
- You have fun while doing it
- You burn some fats while doing it
- You don’t need to spend money on tickets or gasoline
- You don’t pollute the environment while doing your very important things in your life
…and I’m surely forgetting some other benefits.
Isn’t this awesome? It is. Then why aren’t more people doing it? Why people prefer to use cars and get stuck in traffic, even if they need to move only for less then 10 Km? I don’t know. I was one of those people. I didn’t know any better, so probably neither do them.
One year has passed since I bought my first bike. I lost weight, I saved money, I’m less stressed, I bought a second bike and a folding bike. I almost never use my car and I’m asking myself why I still own it.