While reading Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community, by Robert D. Putnam, I came across a statement about people dependent upon television for their primary form of entertainment:
“People who are social isolates to begin with gravitate toward the tube as the line of leisurely least resistance.”
I’m not sure why, but it got me thinking about why I started commuting by bike back in early 2006. Prior to then, I’d ridden my bike to work sporadically, mostly in the mid to late 80′s.
In March 2006, I had taken our oldest, back to college after spring break and was stopped and waiting at a red light behind another minivan when a catering truck driven by a 19-year old (who was more interested in checking out the co-ed walking on the sidewalk than paying attention to the road) hit me from behind at ~35 MPH.
My beloved minivan was totaled and when I went to the doctor the next day I learned that I had been compressed from 6′ 6″ to 6′ 4.75″. Don’t worry, no other ill effects and I’m back up to 6′ 5″ now. Anyway, after the time the insurance company allotted for a rental car had expired I was faced with dealing with one less vehicle for our family’s use until the caterer’s insurance company paid up.
We had moved to our current house in the summer of 1999 and I had always wanted to get out on the bike trail which was close at hand … but had never taken the time to check it out. Now sounded like the time, after all, I used to ride my bike further than that to work in traffic and here was a nice bike trail which ran almost up to my office door.
I saddled up my 1977 Yama 10 speed and rode it to work April, May and June 2006, even after I’d replaced the minivan. The Yama’s 29 year old cables finally protested in July and my wife suggested I check out a new bike at the local bike shop. The rest, as they say, is history.
So, to circle back, driving a car to work was my path of least resistance until car problems forced me to try cycling. Once tried, I couldn’t give it up. I know the same is true for Noah and others. This last summer, gas prices seemed to be a factor in getting some new bike commuters out of their path of least resistance. What about you?