Last year, I took a fall from my bike riding into work. There was a gash in the sidewalk and then a gash in my knee! Given I hit the pavement full on, it could have been a lot worse. I waited out the momentary shock –you perspire, you shake- and got back on my horse.
A copywriter by trade, you’d think I could come up with a better opening to a story about biking to work, especially given this is bike-to-work week in Chicago. But I won’t lie to you. Safeness is not a bicycle’s preeminent calling card, and if one elects to take surface streets in lieu of bike paths, it can get even harrier. Don’t forget to wear a helmet.
Still, riding’s pluses are manifest. Especially in Chicago. Our lakefront path is among the country’s longest and finest urban bike routes, with a Great Lake on one side and a world-class skyline on the other, spanning the leafy suburb of Evanston in the north to I’m not even sure how far south. One rides through Lincoln Park, Grant Park, and various museum campuses. The path even skirts Chicago’s newest jewel, Millennium Park.
Say what you will about Mayor Daley but he loves his parks and recreation. And it shows. Da Mayor is also a huge promoter of urban biking, and our city gets more bike-friendly every day.
Yet scenery is only one of the pluses that come with riding a bicycle and by no means the most desirable one. Public transportation costs two bucks or more one way. You go two ways. Parking downtown can cost over 20 dollars a day. And let’s not even get into the cost of petroleum. Biking is free. No parking. No gas. Even the bike itself is a bargain. After all, the most expensive bicycle in the world costs less than the cheapest car.
Next to running and swimming biking is the best form of aerobic exercise, and it won’t damage your legs –unless, of course, you fall. I’m told Alex Bogusky moved his agency to Boulder Colorado primarily because of the awesome biking opportunities. Perhaps riding to work has something to do with his agency’s prodigious creative output. Physical exercise stimulates the brain. After my morning ride, I know I hit the keyboard with gusto.
Biking is quintessentially green. The Toyota Prius is a gas hog by comparison. By definition riders aren’t driving. Duh. Imagine one thousand less cars on the road, then one hundred thousand. Let’s hope the number only increases as fear of global warming escalates. It has to. The ongoing BP crisis speaks for itself.
But one doesn’t need a heightened social conscience to get on a bike. There are plenty of selfish reasons: your body, your health, your pocket book, and your creativity. And then there’s the best reason of all: it’s fun. Some mornings I feel like a boy again, hauling ass, the wind at my back…
You get the picture. Get yourself a bicycle and ride it to work this week. It will change your life. As for the excuse about showering, there are usually some in every office. We have ‘em. Ask. Besides, most agency guys look like they just rolled about of bed. Axe up. No one will know the difference.