Bike slowly

By Felix Salmon
July 28, 2011

One of the things I like about urban biking in the summer is that people go slower: no one wants to arrive at their destination a sweaty and disheveled mess. When bikes go slower, that’s safer for everybody, especially pedestrians. And it’s much more pleasant for the bicyclist, too. If you take your time, and you’re not always in a rush, stopping at red lights is no longer an annoyance: it’s an opportunity to cool down a little look around, learn about your city. I like the fact that my bike is faster than a car for most New York journeys. But that doesn’t mean I’m in a race.

Unsurprisingly, then, I love Celeste LeCompte’s article about the Slow Bike Movement in the SF Chronicle. And she makes an important, oft-overlooked point:

Seeing slow-riding folks like Logan and Stockmann out on the road can be a refreshing encouragement to hop on two wheels for a daily commute or a quick trip to the farmers’ market.

As a general rule, the propensity of non-bicyclists to give biking a try is inversely proportional to the average velocity of the bikers they see on the street. If you live in a city where women in wedge heels are steering their old steel bikes around their daily errand route, there’s really nothing intimidating or scary about the prospect of getting on a bike yourself. If it’s all hipsters on fixies, by contrast, that just makes biking feel all the more alien and stupid.

So, next time you get on a bike, give yourself an extra five or ten minutes, and take your time. You’ll be much happier for doing so. And your happiness is likely to prove contagious.

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