Over the last five years I’ve commuted to Art’s by bike. I’m fortunate that my commute is an easy eight-and-a-half-mile round trip that takes place within bike lanes for its entire duration. Yes, we are very fortunate here in San Luis Obispo. But, just as the world’s wealthiest individuals never seem to have enough money, I complain about my commute.
While I am pedaling past the town cemetery I tend to ironically have most of my close calls with passing motorists. At these moments I found myself reflecting on what prolific cycling blogger BikeSnobNYC frequently refers to as the “indignity of commuting by bike.” This phrase captures the sentiment that, in America, the car is king. Nearly every facet of our media-driven culture seems to aggrandize the virtues of driving. Movies, magazines, on-line videos, music, and even fashion all seem to relish in our nation’s love affair with the automobile.
It’s in these moments of reflection that I find myself wishing I were comfortable, sweat-free and listening to music as I travel briskly through our little town toward work. In an effort to satiate this desire and to make it easier for my family of four to multitask with small children, and to get to my early-morning video shoots looking as fresh and as unfrazzled as possible, I bought a new car.
At first I loved driving to work for all the reasons I’ve just described. Then one day I went to get my hair cut after work and found myself sitting in traffic as I watched cyclists pass me in the bike lane.I missed my city bike. Bad. After a couple of months of this I added a few pounds of flab around my belly and felt my energy flagging. That’s when I realized I was a chump. I had been duped into believing the lie that I would be happier in a car, chained to the dreaded gas pump and the debt that accompanies the four-wheeled machines.
These days the cars spend more time in the garage and I’m back to riding my bike to work whenever possible. Now, rather than thinking about the ‘indignity’ of commuting by bike, I’m just stoked that I am getting healthier as I make my way around town. Perhaps best of all, when I have yet another close call at the town cemetery, I chuckle to myself as I watch that driver cluelessly roll down the road and I think, ‘What a chump.’
Daniel Slusser is a professional bicycle mechanic with over ten years of experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from HSU and a master’s degree in history from Cal Poly. When he is not riding, wrenching, or writing he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.