About five years ago I decided to lose some weight. I’d been fighting the extra pounds my entire adult life and just wanted them gone, once and for all. I was at an age where running wasn’t an option due to the stress it put on my joints and the thought of going to a gym was torture, so I got my bike out of mothballs and went for a ride. I’ll never forget. I went eight miles.
It was fun and so a few days later I went again. Those rides became more and more common and every time I came home I felt better than when I had left so I kept going further. I went a little over 1,000 miles that first year. The next year I went 5,000. Now I’m up to 11,000 and know with certainly that I won’t ever stop.
Bicycling fixed what was broken in my life. I lost the weight. I had more energy than I imagined I’d ever have again, so I cut back on the coffee, too. As I did, I discovered that I wasn’t nearly as stressed as the people around me…the people I used to be.
I started to learn a little about our cities and towns and why they’re laid out the way they are. I’d been to places like Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Malmö and so I knew that it didn’t have to be this way. It was a choice, and that choice has made us slaves to our automobiles.
I don’t have anything against cars. I say this in spite of the fact that 30,000 people a year needlessly die in automobile collisions in the United States. We don’t like to think about that. If we did, we’d do something about it. I learned that the Swedes believe that number should be zero and they have a plan to make it happen. I also learned that the Dutch decided to change their society in the 1970s to protect school children from automobile collisions. Their traffic mortality rate has dropped by 98% since then.
I haven’t even talked about the health impacts of dirty air, most of which is the result of the American habit of driving everywhere. There’s also our unwillingness to confront sedentary diseases like juvenile diabetes. We could lick this stuff in a minute if everyone would simply choose to use a bicycle for short trips instead of instinctively reaching for the car keys.
So that’s what I’ve done and that’s what I plan to keep on doing. My wife and I chose to live in Jefferson Iowa and now we ride our bikes pretty much everywhere. It helps us. It helps the community. It helps everything. There’s absolutely no downside. Those people who say it can’t be done because it rains or you sweat or something else? Don’t listen to them. They don’t know. They haven’t tried it.
I have and I hope you will, too. If you do, I can help you. I want to help. Why? Mostly because I think it’s the greatest tragedy of our times that most men and women live lives of quiet desperation. It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t get too many chances to make a big impact in the world. This is mine and I’ve latched onto it and I’m not letting go. Bikes will heal you if you let them. They’ll heal all of us. We don’t even have to work at it. It’s the easiest thing in the world.
So if you’re a city planner or a corporate executive or just a man or woman who wants to live better, reach out when you’re ready. I can help. It has worked for me and it will work for you too. Bikes change everything. They heal. It’s time, don’t you think?