When our boys were little, I prided myself on the fact that we introduced them to some major cities- how to navigate getting around and how to enjoy all that those cities had to offer. I took them regularly to Washington DC ( how I managed a double stroller, two little ones and the DC Metro, I haven't a clue) and occasionally to NYC. We used bus, subway, metro, or train. As they got older, they felt comfortable navigating those places by themselves and even introduced their friends to those cities via mass transit. Over the years, I felt that I had exposed them to all the main places in those cities as well as some of the off-the-beaten pathways.
At this juncture, we have one boy living outside NYC and working in the city and another living outside DC and going to school in that city. I realized that both boys have completely surpassed me in their knowledge of their respective cities: the off-the-beaten-path places to eat, the free events, the best way to navigate the crowds and get around the city.
I attribute it to their natural curiosity but also to their use of bicycles as a means of transport. On a bicycle you get to see more of the details of a city; perhaps the small sign announcing a lecture at a local museum, a side street that cuts across a major thoroughfare, or a hole-in-the-wall serving The Best Pizza Ever local restaurant.
I love to explore new places on a bicycle. While I enjoy using my bike for transport- being able to get from here to there under my own steam- the truth is, I am just nosy. I like to look at other people's homes- to get inspiration on how their gardens grow, what type of paint color they are using, imagining the people who inhabit those homes.
On a bike you can view homes and situations in a timely manner; not too quickly as in a car and not too slowly as with walking. If you would slow down in a car, you would be noted as a possible stalker and if you sped up with walking you would be reported as up to no good. On a bicycle you are semi-invisible. You also have the freedom to stop wherever you are and explore the environment on foot.
Using a bicycle can get you to places rather quickly- especially in this day and age of TRAFFIC. Click here for a fun video.
On a bicycle you get some exercise, protect the environment and see the sights. What more can you want? On these nicer spring days, a bicycle ride clears one's head and gets the blood pumping and moving as a prep for work to be done. In a couple of weeks it will be National Bike to Work Day -May 18th with the week leading up to it as Bike to Work Week. If you haven't ever done so, why not plan on it this year? Brush off the cobwebs from your bike. Take it to a local bike shop for a tune up and going over. Plan out your route to work. Try it.
If you work from home or have a car office due to traveling, why not plan on biking either before or after work. In some cities they have City Bikes- bicycles you can rent for a period of time. On May 18th, if you find that you are near one of those kiosks, try biking for 30 minutes at lunch.
You may find new places and routes in your city or town that you have never seen before.