• It’s free. No car payments, no gas money, no insurance, no cab fare, no bus fare. You do have to buy the bike and occasionally replace parts, but your bike’s not going to drop its transmission and suddenly cost you $1,000.
• No parking, no waiting. When you switch from driving to biking, it’s like upgrading to valet parking everywhere you go: you just pull up to the door and hop off. No looking for spaces, no walking from the lot, no paying for parking, no waiting to get out of the lot. No waiting for a cab, no waiting for a bus. You just go.
• It’s reliable. Yeah, sometimes tires blow or chains break, but fixes are relatively easy, and you never get towed. Your bike is never going to not start.
• Automatic exercise. No gym memberships, no treadmills, no spin classes: you get a cardiovascular workout just living your life. Imagine a world where you never get short of breath except when you’re powering up a steep hill—that’s the world of owning a bike instead of a car. (Well, and not smoking.)
• Makes happy hour easy. I’m not saying biking drunk is a great idea—and yes, I know you can get DWIs on a bike—but if you’re going to go out and have two or three or four beers, you can get on a bike without facing ethical or legal ramifications of the magnitude you’d face if you got into a car.
• Earth-friendly. Your carbon footprint is a mere tiptoe.
• Dating is awkward. This is a situation where you want to be smooth and flexible. Need a ride? No problem, I’ve got a car. Want to meet on the other side of town? Easy, I’ll drive! There’s no getting around the fact that being carless does not shout, “I’m a grownup with a real job and I have my shit together.” Rather, it shouts, “I’m a poor boho!” Some people will be turned on by this—but most will take a little (or more than a little) convincing.
• You have to work within biking distance. Say you have a job within biking distance, and for whatever reason you lose that job. Well…shit.
• Weather. Snow, rain, sleet, hail: they’re getting all up in your business. (That said, having a car in the snow is no treat either—see “It’s reliable,” above.)
• You show up sweaty. This gets to be less of a problem as you get into better shape, but especially in hot weather, this is an issue. You’ll have to walk around the room a few times flapping your shirt, and people will look concerned and offer you water.
• Limited cargo space. When you go to Target, if you’re getting eight rolls of toilet paper, that pretty much maxes out your backpack space—you’ll have to go back for those tiki torches and coffee filters. Speaking of coffee…
• You can’t carry a cup of coffee on your bike. Along with the inability to (safely) listen to music, this is a lifestyle cramper. But hey, it’s free!
Photo by Whitney Martinko