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    A Bicycling Manifesto

    With the price of gas where it is, along with my own desire to get more exercise, I’ve adopted a set of rules regarding bicycle usage, and encourage everyone to do the same.  I think it represents a distinctly different attitude towards bicycling than we’re used to.  See what you think.

    1. Ride a bike for a reason, not just for recreation; while riding a bike for recreation is fine, the idea is to promote replacement of cars with bikes where possible.  Make a point of choosing trips where you actually are replacing a car trip.
    2. Don’t wear funny sports clothes. They preclude your ability to partake in normal society.  If you’re going to a lunch meeting, no one wants to see bikerman in spandex.  Furthermore, wearing sports clothing promotes the image that bikes are for ‘cyclists’ and not normal people.  Do wear a helmet, and lock it to your bike when you need to go in someplace.
    3. Go where you need to go, including busier roads, if that’s what’s necessary to reach your destination. Bikes will never be used as replacements for cars unless they can truly substitute.  By making yourself visible on major roads, you increase the visibility of bikes as a whole and help raise awareness of problem spots. Obviously use common sense and avoid limited access roads and unsafe situations.  But DO go where you need to go to complete your trip.
    4. Obey traffic laws and signals. Being on a bike doesn’t give you a free pass to act like a maniac.  Be courteous, intelligent, and follow traffic signals and laws.  This puts cars on notice that bikers (even slow, non-athletic ones) deserve their fair share of the road, but you need to reciprocate by acting in a predictable, lawful, and measured way.
    5. Replace time at the gym (or other exercise efforts) with time on a bike as part of your daily routine. Isn’t it nonsensical to use a car to rush through your day so you can get home at 5 and then go to the gym (or bike or run) for an hour?  If you slow down and use a bike for some tasks during the day, you won’t need to spend as much time doing mindless exercise.  And you’ll save on gas (and carbon emissions), and get better connected to your community.

    This week, I used my bike to go to three lunch meetings, a doctor appointment, and two trips to buy groceries.  I put in over 60 miles just between Monday and Thursday, and it took only a few minutes more time than it would have to drive.  I am sure I’ve lost weight doing this, though I don’t care how much.  I feel better and that alone is worth it.

    And two of the best perks about biking: you’re never stuck in traffic, and second, you always get a top-notch parking spot.  Plus, you’re not circling around trying to find a place to park.  More gas and time savings.  Being on a bike in many ways is faster and more efficient than being in a car, especially when the distances you’re talking about are under 30 minutes of bike time (8-10 miles).

    Anyone who lives in the Annapolis, Maryland area knows it’s a congested, frustrating experience to try to get ANYWHERE on a weekday afternoon by car.  Why not try it on a bike and see how much quicker it can be?

    • http://vtflatlander.blogspot.com/ joeyinvermont

      These are good rules. #2 gets a little tricky with hills or weather cuz you don’t want to sweat up your work clothes. That can be a deal-breaker in some cases, unfortunately. In some scenarios you can just bring a change, tho.

    • http://davetroy.com davetroy

      Agree, though one trick I’ve found works is to arrive a couple of minutes early and get cooled down before you meet someone. Plus, I try not to ever be meeting with someone who wouldn’t understand my biking to the meeting (and thus understand any brow-sweat). And sure, bringing a quick change can be an option.

      I think about all the beautiful young women I saw in Europe who were heading to and from work and to parties in full party garb, dresses and heels, etc. While that can be tough to pull off, it’s the sort of approach I favor. :)

    • http://ridecharlotte.com Arleigh

      Dave,
      As a person that grew up in Annapolis and moved away about 4 years ago I remember well the head banging that was needed to get anywhere bike. As I am planning my move back to Annapolis I am contemplating many things. Where to live, the bikes needed and researching bus routes. I currently am car free in Charlotte and hope to stay as car free as possible there.

      Do you live in Annapolis?

    • http://davetroy.com davetroy

      I live near Annapolis on the North shore of the Severn River. I’d say being car-free here would be very tough to pull off, though if you lived downtown and had a fairly tight circle of places you frequented, it would be possible. I’d say things are only slightly improved over what they were 20 years ago — mostly the addition of a few bike trails, but the situation on the roads is still pretty bad.

    • ckm

      I sold our old vehicle in early spring and went car-less. It's now Fall, shame that it's too cold to bike but, back to your list, I've done all of the above (I don't even own biker's attire.

      I even went on Ritchie Hwy, though I went against traffic b/c I felt uncomfortable with the idea of not being able to see what was behind me, as cars go on such high speed there. I know that's not allowed, but I went against traffic.

      The only things I need are to learn the turning signals and to find some nice big baskets I've seen in other bikes but don't know where to buy. Going to the grocery store on my bike allows me to buy just the necessary. I exercise budgeting, meal planning, and don't waste food. :)

    • ckm

      I sold our old vehicle in early spring and went car-less. It's now Fall, shame that it's too cold to bike but, back to your list, I've done all of the above (I don't even own biker's attire.

      I even went on Ritchie Hwy, though I went against traffic b/c I felt uncomfortable with the idea of not being able to see what was behind me, as cars go on such high speed there. I know that's not allowed, but I went against traffic.

      The only things I need are to learn the turning signals and to find some nice big baskets I've seen in other bikes but don't know where to buy. Going to the grocery store on my bike allows me to buy just the necessary. I exercise budgeting, meal planning, and don't waste food. :)