I recently found out that Elaina, one of the employees in our Boise, Idaho office, bikes everywhere she goes. To me, that was really amazing, I can barely walk on snowy roads let alone contemplate riding a bicycle on them, but it left me with a million questions for her. How do you grocery shop? How do you get your kiddos to school, how do you get to work without looking like a hot mess? Here’s part one of Elaina’s bike riding story.
Bicycling combines exercise, lifestyle prioritization, financial benefits, environmental consciousness, and being awesome all into one single outdoor activity. This will be my 5th straight year of commuting via bicycle year-round, with kids in tow, and I’m having the time of my life.
If you ride a bicycle, be proud. Humans riding on bicycles are more energy-efficient than any other animal and any other form of transportation. Vance Tucker of Duke University compared bicyclists to humans and animals running, birds flying and fish swimming, as well as to people in motor-powered cars, boats, trains and planes (J. Exp. Bio, 1973; 68 (9): 689 – 709). The less energy per weight you use to travel over a distance, the more energy-efficient you are. Vance found that the most efficient creature without mechanical help is a condor. With mechanical help, the cyclist comes out on top. Here is a partial list, ranked from most to least energy-efficient:
- Human on a bicycle
- Human in a jet plane
- Human walking
- Human running
- Human in an automobile
Biking forces you to be efficient with your choices.
When I became a single mother, I was forced to be ruthlessly efficient with my choices. Armed with no resources but supportive family and my sociology degree (with its associated altruistic yet teensy paycheck), I had to decide between being able to afford a car, which would make the choices for child care suboptimal, or to live without a car and spend the bulk of my income on better childcare. I chose the latter and have never looked back.
I met the love of my life and his daughter a few years ago and moved here to Boise, where we have slowly built a life that caters to bike commuting and living simply. Together, my family of four have twelve bikes (our ancient dog even has a trailer) and one (equally ancient) car, which is rarely driven. We sold my partner’s house and now live in a small home that is next to the bike path and the pristine Boise River. I sought out work at this amazing company, which, refreshingly, encourages wellness endeavors and just so happens to be less than a mile away from my home and across the street from my children’s school, with only one major street to cross. It may seem a stroke of luck, but mine is a lifestyle carefully engineered over several years to focus on the priority of living without being dependent on a car.
If you want to hear more about how Elaina stays on her bicycle during winter, spring, summer, and fall, check out Part 2 of this blog.