The power of bike love

Our little town struggles, as so many do, with balancing the multimodal transportation needs of its citizenry against the motor vehicle status quo, and to do it in the face of chronic budgetary doldrums. More could always be done, but we’re slowly steering the giant ship of bureaucracy in the right direction.

Bright spots include the fact that the Chamber of Commerce this summer launched a monthly ride series aiming to “mix business with leisure.” The flippin’ Chamber of Commerce gets that bikes are good for business—that’s progress!

One of the major thoroughfares through the heart of my neighborhood is a state-owned road. NCDOT has not been the greatest champion of multimodal infrastructure, nor do they accomplish anything quickly. So it’s kind of a big deal when they get on board with replacing on-street parking spaces with bike parking. That’s right—the state, the city, and local businesses are putting this plan in motion as we speak. Yowza! That’s some Portland-level bike kung fu, there.

And this month, the River Arts District Farmers Market, a lovely little operation just a hop, skip, and a jump from our front door, has launched a Bike-to-Market rewards card. They’ve given some prime real estate over to bike racks (courtesy of our BFFs, Asheville on Bikes), and they are actively encouraging folks to shop by bike. (And we’re helping out—bike shoppers accrue stamps for every trip to the market. With ten, they can enter to win a Ready Bag in the color of their choice.)

All these brights spots just make me want to take a moment to appreciate the bicycle. To stop and smell the chain lube, as it were (not intending to leave out you belt drive folks, of course).

I was poking around the other day, looking for who knows what on the mighty interwebs, when I revisited this old post from Hum of the City, a great blog about cargo and family cycling. In this one, Dorie writes about her family’s stable of bikes—which are best for big loads, for hauling the kids, for a grocery run in a skirt. It’s just a simple little love letter, disguised as an informational post, and it makes me smile.

It also inflames my cargo bike lust, though that’s not hard to do. And makes me want a folding bike, and an assisted bike—Asheville ain’t exactly San Fran, but we’ve got some respectable hills.

But mostly, it just makes me want to sing the praises of the bikes I do have. The old joke about the correct number of bikes (n+1) remains true, but I love our modest little lineup. I sold my fancypants carbon road bike and my sporty little track-bike-turned-commuter more than a year ago now, and I haven’t looked back. I looooooove my Public C7 for its snazzy orange color and its ability to be both playful and a bit of a workhorse. Once you go upright, you’ll never go back (at least for around-town riding). My trusty old Rockhopper stands ready to take me into the woods. I occasionally still swing a leg over the Asheville on Bikes longtail-mounted portable sound system or the Asheville Bike Taxi’s pedicab—both are beasts, but super-fun beasts (kinda like that ole Predator up there, showing his softer side).

Dion and I field questions from the bike-curious pretty regularly. What kind of bike should I buy? is the most common, hands down. Our answer, as you know, is always this: get the bike you’ll actually ride. Get one that’s comfortable, that’s fun, that makes you want to hop on and go. Brands are largely irrelevant. Decent components are important, but those can be upgraded. Accessories—fenders, rack, basket—can be added to make your ride more versatile. But none of that matters if you don’t have the hots for your bike.

It all comes down to Bike Love. If you start with the love, the rest—the legs to get up that long hill, increased ease in traffic, an irresistible urge to advocate for better infrastructure in your town—will follow. Just start with the love.

 *We couldn’t resist the fantastic cover image. Click through to see more goodies.

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