Utne Blogs > Literature

Getting Over Biking Fears and Getting On a Bike

by Jake Mohan 


Tags: essay writing, bikes, biking, bike culture, bike safety, Bike Snob NYC,

bikesBikeSnobNYC is an outspoken and occasionally antagonistic blogger, offering candid and provocative opinions about biking and bike culture. But recently he published a thoughtful post outlining some of the fears that prevent people from getting on bikes in the first place, reasons why such fears are unfounded, and suggestions for overcoming them. Far from letting his snobbishness intimidate would-be bikers, he wants to convert as many to biking as possible:

For all my derision, the last thing I’d want to do is discourage someone from riding a bike. If anything, I’d like to think I poke fun at the things that are actually barriers of entry to new cyclists, and not at new cyclists themselves.

To each of the most common apprehensions—I’ll get hurt; I’ll get honked at; I’ll look ridiculous; I can’t afford it; etc.—he offers several commonsense counterarguments. In doing so, he’s provided a valuable service to those who want to become dedicated riders but aren’t quite sure where to start, and also chipped away at some of the perceived insularity and pretension surrounding bike culture.

One of the greatest things about cycling is you can do it with 10,000 people or you can do it alone. And you don’t need to engage in the “secret handshake” of name-dropping, proper equipment usage, and wardrobe in order to do it. . . . If nothing else, you’ll never, ever be bored again. There will no longer ever be a daunting empty window of time in your day, as you’ll always have something to fill it with. Even if you’re all by yourself.

Image by mandiberg, licensed by Creative Commons.

dave41
6/24/2008 7:28:56 PM

I'm all for riding bikes. I have several and two of my three kids do, too. (3rd child not old enough yet.) I'm all for the colleges and universities that I've read about that have bikes on campus to borrow. I' not exactly sure how it works but somehow you borrow and bike to ride on campus and leave it there at the end of the day. Great exercise! And much cheaper transportation than cars running on gas!


julie hanus
6/24/2008 4:56:21 PM

Nice post, Jake. Future bikers might also want to check out some practical-type tips on boosting confidence while riding on city streets (from yours truly): http://www.utne.com/2007-05-01/OwningtheRoadRules.aspx And I'll confess, here I am almost a year after writing the article, and I just discovered for myself the true impact of point #2: Choose the right bike (and ask for help fitting it). I'd been riding a frame with a totally respectable fit, which was such an upgrade from my previous bike, that I'd only ever relished the ride. Well, fast-forward to getting a bike that's an utterly perfect fit--and holy moly. I feel so perfectly balanced when I'm on it, very "in control" but reactive and zippy... ah. My street-riding confidence is higher than ever--and I'd never thought it was lacking in the first place. Yay, bikes!