It’s 2019 and the world feels more accessible than ever in so many ways. My generation has proven less interested in big houses and more interested in travel. We’re less interested in having a fancy car and more interested in spending on a life-changing trip abroad. Daily life has seen its own changes, too. People are taking to two wheels not just to get exercise but also to get their daily errands done. In case you’re not yet on board with bringing cycling into your life, here are a few reasons that may help convince you.

1. Autonomy

When you’re à vélo, you don’t depend on anyone or any transportation schedule. You don’t have to make sure you have gas in the tank or check with the family that no one will need the car while you’re gone. You’re free as a bird to come and go as you please.

2. Satisfaction

How often do we make promises to ourselves about exercising and then we don’t get around to it? When you cycle to your destinations – or just to grab your morning coffee – you have the satisfaction of at least gotten a bit of exercise, even if it isn’t the hour of cardio you had imagined for yourself. There’s even a little sense of pride from having not brought a couple-thousand pound machine with you for a short errand.

3. Your body gets you to your destination

There’s just a really nice sense of pride by having gotten somewhere – to work, a lunch date, to run an errand – thanks to your own strong and capable body. This is something I felt immediately when I started cycling to yoga class back in Kansas City before I moved my bike to Paris. My class was always during rush hour, and I would inevitably end up spending 15 minutes in the car when it really was a five minute drive. When I opted for the bike, it was the same amount of time but far more pleasant to have gotten myself there with my body and not having an idling motor as I waited for dozens of cars to pass.

4. Peaceful

Even when you’re riding in the city, something I have more experience with than out in nature, there’s a certain peace that comes over you when pedaling. I don’t know the science behind it but it’s pretty addictive.

5. Clears your head

Part of how I named Falling Off Bicycles came from how I feel when riding a bike. Some people get their best ideas in the shower. I feel most in the flow and clear-headed on my bike.

6. It gets you out in nature

Sometimes I am discouraged by how distant from nature we have become. We have our TVs, phones, and all kinds of other distractions that keep us holed up inside when we have an innate need for connection with nature that needs to be nurtured. Making cycling part of your routine will help get you back in touch with nature, even if you are in a city.

7. When you fall off, get back on and keep moving

As you may have read in my post about how I named Falling Off Bicycles, I love the Einstein quote “Life is like a bicycle; to keep your balance you must keep moving.” The metaphor is of course that life obliges us to keep on going just like cycling obliges us to keep on pedaling.

8. Embracing the unknown

Even when you take the same route on your bike every day, you’re still going to encounter something of the unknown with a closeness you wouldn’t have access to from a vehicle. A road construction detour may lead you down a street you’ve never taken, cutting through back alleys otherwise inaccessible to cars may create a new discovery, or you may just be more likely to get lost. And that’s not always a bad thing.

9. Releases endorphins

According to Cycle Plan, when you ride, “you’ll experience a spike in neuro-chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Not only do they improve your mood, but this hit of endorphins can stimulate the same areas of the brain as a painkiller.” Any cyclist can tell you all about this “high” we get from riding.

10. Forces us to look people in the eye

One of the most fascinating revelations I read about in the book Pedaling Revolution was that when you’re on a bike (versus in a vehicle), you’re times more likely to connect with another human being. This means looking each other in the eye, reading body language, and signaling to each other in a way that communicates what your next move is so as to inform how to keep you both physically safe. This is something we miss in our cars, and what’s worse is that those who always take cars are often alone in the car, meaning no human-to-human connection at all.

11. It’s easy to start and stop

I assume most of you won’t behave like me when on a bike – always hopping off to grab a photo of something pretty I’ve spotted – but that is certainly one of the benefits of riding. Parking is much easier to find, too. 😉

12. Wind in your hair

You know how your dog loves car rides (that is, if you haven’t traumatized him or her with too many trips to the vet or groomer)? And you know how they stick their heads out the window and let their ears blow in the wind? When you ride a bike, that feeling is yours too, and most people look that happy doing it!

13. Exercise

This one goes without saying, but the physical benefits of cycling are numerous. From a healthier heart to lower stress, to more lubricated joints, cycling is an easy and satisfying way to show your body some love.

14. Fresh air > the gym

I’m not sure when it happened, but it seems a lot of people stopped doing outdoor activities at some point and started doing more workouts in gyms. To me, the choice between a fresh air workout and a smelly gym with sweaty machines is obvious.

15. The environment

A zero emission trip, now that’s something to celebrate!

16. No added noise pollution

I am very sensitive to sound and find street noise particularly difficult to endure**. The Paris streets, especially the scooters (les motos) are huge offenders of this. The pollute the city with their loud motors, often with no regard for the quiet neighborhood they’re passing through. On a bike, you only have the gentle hum of the wheels turning (and in my case, the occasional clink clank from my vintage ride), making noise while you ride.

17. Easy on the bank account

It goes without saying that when you’re not dumping money into a depreciating asset like a car (think insurance, gas, maintenance), and getting the occasional tune-up and equipment refreshments, you can save a ton of money.

18. Childlike JOY!

Not dissimilar to my points on the wind in your hair, I just love the return to childhood riding a bike offers. It seems that no matter what age you are when you ride, being on a bike, feeling like you’re free as a bird and flying through the air, takes you back to childhood and simpler, more carefree times.

So voilà. I hope I’ve managed to debunk the long-held idea that cycling is for kids or serious riders only and encouraged you to hop back on the saddle. Happy riding!

Read about why to cycle in Paris here.

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