Thank you, Sandra Storey, for acknowledging the shift into biking culture and raising your concerns. (“JP Observer: Bikes are nice, but there are limits,” Oct. 25.) This change has come about for many reasons, many of which drivers are not fully aware of.
Some people ride because the cost of living in Boston is high and their income is low. One of the reasons cited for the increase in ridership in the US is the changing cost of entrance into the career world. Students of higher education incur more debt, and the average renter now spends 44 percent of their income on rent, no matter what “the school of life” dealt them or what their debt is. One of the most impactful sacrifices in fungible spending a person can make is losing the car. This is uncomfortable in the cold and rainy months, but it’s part of the plan for many in order to be responsible tenants, bill-payers, and taxpayers.
Do our tax dollars build roadways for vehicles only? They certainly appear designed for cars, but the law recognizes bicycles as vehicles as well. In Massachusetts, one can legally “ride your bicycle on any public road, street, or bikeway in the Commonwealth, except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibit bikes.” Bike riders may occasionally cause drivers to go slower, but they don’t cause the light to stay red longer or drivers to stop longer at stop signs. Experiencing gridlock among riders—that would deserve special media attention.
The average walking speed is 3 mph, but biking is the most efficient self-powered means of transportation and generally triples your speed for the same amount of calories. If you wish to go faster and expend more calories than with walking, ride a bike and your body will thank you for all the health benefits!
Pedal power comes in various shapes and assistance levels to meet the needs of the rider. The easiest bike to operate for a rider with low-watt output and no balance would be a trike with a motorized assist for challenging times. These are special, high-end bikes, but with a quote from Bikes Not Bombs’ Bike Shop for a recumbent trike coming in at $1,100 to $1,600 and an aftermarket assist motor installation of about $1,200 from a nearby shop, this is substantially more affordable than the cost of car ownership.
If you are a driver and you feel like you are going and going, but you aren’t always getting somewhere in your life, try connecting the dots. Biking is good for your body, your mind, your budget, your figure, your schedule, your own immediate environment, your tax dollars, your connection to the neighborhood, your fellow drivers who just must use an automobile, and to the next generation in the world.