When I was a kid, my brother and sister and I rode around our street and parts of the neighborhood on our bikes. It was childhood fun, until it wasn’t. When riding down a large hill next to the nearby lake, I fell and crashed and my bike was destroyed. A wheel over here, a handle bar over there. I wasn’t injured; only a few scrapes. But my cautiousness around bike riding suddenly became justified and I didn’t ride much after that.
As an adult, my desire to ride was reignited. This time, it wasn’t about fun. Instead, it fit sweetly into my sustainability values. As an eco-friendly form of transportation, it was a great option … that I was still fearful to attempt. I knew that riding on my childhood suburban streets was far different from really riding on roads, especially in Washington, DC and it’s neighboring areas. I also had other fears, like the “helmet hair” that my big curls were destined to encounter.
And yet, more and more of my friends and colleagues rode bikes. Some were avid cyclists, some commuted to work, some rode trails on weekends. Several of my years working at the U.S. Green Building Council involved creating and launching LEED for Neighborhood Development (a certification for green neighborhoods). It emphasized urban planning and I learned about the cycling community, concerns of cyclists, pros and cons of bike lanes, how to increase ridership, and yet had no direct experience of my own.
Integrating bike riding into my transportation options is a reflection of my values. While I walk a lot, take public transportation, and try to minimize car trips, there are trips that would be best suited for a bike. When I meet with clients, I typically drive. While often necessary due to distance and lack of public transportation options, it can feel a bit off center. Less Equals More is about living my values and sharing this way of life with others. It may not be hypocrisy to drive but it’s not aligned either.
Then I moved to Austin. Texas is not known for it’s urban planning acumen or carless transportation options, but in this new city, I felt ready. The city is smaller and feels more accessible, and I’ve noticed that drivers are less stressed and irritable than in the DC area. Also I find that once I acknowledge a fear that holds me back, it becomes a focal point for me on this long path toward fearlessness. So I bought a bike and biked to a client for the first time a couple weeks ago, fulfilling a dream and my values.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because minimalism makes space: space via time to explore different pursuits, space to investigate our fears, space in the form of the unenclosed natural world. This also reflects the perspective of meaningful minimalism which looks at the why behind each choice and item we own to ensure they’re matched with our values and enrich our lives.
In Part 2, I will detail my experience purchasing a bike and all the unexpected “stuff” involved.