Ride Bikes!!

I used to be embarrassed about my fair weather cycling proclivities. I ride a bike to work, but only when it’s fun. To me, this means the temperature is over 45 degrees, under 90, and nothing is falling from the sky. This knocks me down a rung on various extreme groups’ cool ladders, but I’ve come around to it, as it means that I arrive at work wearing a reasonable amount of mostly dry, semi-professional looking clothing.

Image from nobrakes atlanta. I, personally, opt for brakes on my bicycle, but to each his/her own

Now that I’ve established that I’m not one of those cooler than thou fixie kids, a militant anti-car type (do we even have those in Atlanta?) or one of the hard core spandex and clip-clop shoes cyclists, I would simply like to point out that springtime in Atlanta is a beautiful thing to experience.  I would also like to put forth that one of the best ways to see it is on a bike – you move more efficiently than on foot and, on occasion, you can move more quickly than by car. It’s certainly a great way to explore Atlanta – I think it heightens the sense of responsibility and appreciation for the city when you ride our streets.  James has pointed out (in several entries on metblogs and elsewhere around the web), that most forms of alternative transportation (walking, biking, taking the bus or MARTA), are great ways to challenge yourself and see the city differently.

On my way to work, I smell the mustiness and spray paint fumes of Krog tunnel, get a birdsong morning ride by of MLK’s house, wait for the little kids in the crosswalk walking to Hope Elementary, bump down the cobblestones to the cool quiet of the urine-smelling underpass, continue through the throngs of students walking to class at Georgia State, smell the oatmeal and ramen (? I swear something smells like ramen by Peachtree Center) of office workers’ breakfasts, and join the string of bikers riding up 5th street to work and school at Georgia Tech. If I have to go to work, I couldn’t come up with a much more pleasant way, unless they added bike lanes or gave out free snoballs or something on Peachtree.

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

But this is just to work! Have you considered the myriad of other perks for bike transportation? Sure, there’s exercise and enjoying the outdoors, but there’s also NO PAYING TO PARK.  No waiting for a valet guy. No circling the block to find a spot, no inching back to get less of your tire on the yellow curb. No problems getting dessert, as you’re going to burn it off on the way home.  No sitting in traffic on Marietta Street or Capitol Ave waiting to get to Phillips or Turner Stadium. The traffic cops will wave you through. And when you get there, you’ve got a free spot right by the entrance!

I love bikes in the springtime.  And would be remiss if I didn’t link to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, which is working tirelessly to incorporate safe and enjoyable biking into more Atlantans’ lives. Though I bet most of them do ride when it’s under 45 degrees, they won’t judge me for not doing so.

Oh, and fair warning, stay tuned for more cycling-centric posts from me.

3 Comments so far

  1. JB (unregistered) on April 5th, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    Abby, I just moved closer to my job and I can finally start biking to work as well (yes!) I agree fixie culture is not for me (tricky climbing steep-ish hills), but I like the simple aesthetics.

    Does anyone know of any local shops that sell used bikes? I want to find a nice road bike to replace my mountain bike from high school (yes, I have zero biking cred)

  2. abby on April 5th, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    That’s awesome, JB! Congrats! I think most of the local shops do sell some used bikes, but none that I know of have a very large selection. You might be better off going to Craigslist and then taking the bike directly to a shop for a once-over and tuneup. Faster Mustache is a group that will welcome your interest with open arms and lots of information – they might have more input than I do at http://fastermustache.org/.

    Also, something that I love to see: all the shops I visit seem to be actively trying to leave behind the “record store clerk snobbery” stigma they used to have. Though when a friend of mine brought in a pink mountain bike she bought for $50 at walmart (with matching pink helmet and combination lock) to get tuned up, she did get some mild ribbing, your local bike shop is more often than not going to be pretty friendly and helpful.

    And just for the record, I rode my heavy-ass high school mountain bike with a heavy-ass milk crate on the back around these hills for about a year before I made the switch. Wanted to make sure it wasn’t a phase before I went dropping cash on a new bike!

  3. Rebecca (unregistered) on April 16th, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

    Thanks for the shout out, Abby! Loved the post – and while I do love to ride in the winter, I’m a complete wimp about August. It’s just too sweaty for me. There, I said it! We don’t judge, we just try to make it easier for people to ride bikes when, where, and how they want! :-)

    We do have a program in which volunteers refurbish used bikes for resale in the 50-150 range. It’s called Starter Bikes and information is available on our website at http://www.atlantabike.org/starterbikes. We don’t have a huge selection but at least you have the security of knowing you’re not buying a stolen bike!

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