A Bicycle Can Change The World in 2013

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

Screen shot from Dead Poets Society
If you want to change what you see in the world, change the place from which you are looking.

Yeah, yeah, headline hyperbole — how can a bike change the world? It can change your world by changing the way you see it.

At the beginning of the year, resolutions fly about changing our lives and changing our world. Because everything we know about the world comes through our five senses; the world is as we perceive it to be. We can change the world by changing the way we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch it. One of the best ways I’ve found to change the way I see the world is to put myself in a position to look at it differently…the more often the better. Riding a bike to work has had this effect on my life.

The World Looks Different from a Bicycle Seat

Here’s what the world looks like from a car: blurry, frenetic, limited, and homogenous. But the view from a bicycle seat is very different:

  • From a bike, the world is in sharp focus…the pavement, the houses, the people are not a blurred by a high rate of speed. There is a texture that comes out; there is a stillness in the gaps between arterial streets that opens you to the possibility that life doesn’t need to go 70 miles per hour with traffic and weather together on the nines.
  • The car commuter primarily sees other cars. From a bike, the world is full of people…walking, skipping, playing with dogs, riding bicycles, and doing things I didn’t know people in my city did. I am still amazed at how much activity there is on the streets of my city and how diverse its population is. There is a Tibetan restaurant in my town — who knew? I may not go out for Tibetan next date night, but until I rode past it, I didn’t even know it was a possibility.
  • From a bicycle, the world is much more controllable. Have you ever had the awful experience of driving up a freeway onramp only to find that all lanes are stopped, trapping you until the next exit two miles away? But the view from a bike isn’t just about options, it’s empowering to know you are getting places under your own power, and your own schedule. The view from a bike is also about abundance as you reduce your car costs and repurpose that money to things you really want. The view from a bicycle seat is independent of the marketing messages, the common wisdom, the propaganda of those interested in your conformity.

The view from a bicycle seat will change you this year if you let it.

You Look Different from a Bicycle Seat

The clichéd new year’s resolution is to lose weight. I’ve made it, and riding to work allowed me to accomplish it. On a bike seat you look taller, more toned, and (if you are like me) tanned on one side of your body (the sun rises on my right as I head north and sets on my right as I head south).

In the next post, I’ll talk about how you can successfully resolve to ride to work this year. In the meantime, consider this question — how has an activity you have undertaken changed the way you see the world? Type your answer in the comments below.