Quotes with a bicycle bent


People like to travel: that is why the grass is greener over the fence. We are walkers --- our natural means of travel is to put one foot in front of the other. The bicycle seduces our basic nature by making walking exciting. It lets us take 10-foot strides at 160 paces a minute. That's 20 miles an hour, instead of 4 or 5... It is not only how fast you go --- cars are faster and jet planes faster still. But jet-plane travel is frustrating boredom --- at least the car gives the pictorial illusion of travel. Cycling does it all --- you have the complete satisfaction of arriving because your mind has chosen the path and steered you over it; your eyes have seen it; your muscles have felt it; your breathing, circulatory and digestive systems have all done their natural functions better than ever, and every part of your being knows you have traveled and arrived.

--- John Forester, Effective Cycling, Chapter 22


I suppose that was what attracted me to the bicycle right from the start. It is not so much a way of getting somewhere as it is a setting for randomness; it makes every journey an unorganized tour.

--- Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles, Chapter 5


The world lies right beyond the handlebars of any bicycle that I happen to be on anywhere from New York Bay to the Vallee de Chevreuse. Anywhere is high adventure, the walls come down, the cyclist is a loner, it is the only way for him to meet other loners. And it works. One seldom exchanges anything but curses or names of insurance companies with another driver, the car inhibits human contacts. The bicycle generates them; bikes talk to each other like dogs, they wag their wheels and tinkle their bells, the riders let their mounts mingle.

--- Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles, Chapter 6


She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.

I would not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.

That which caused the many failures I had in learning the bicycle has caused me failures in life; namely, a certain fearful looking for of judgement; a too vivid realization of the uncertainty of everything about me; an underlying doubt -- at once, however, matched and overcome by the determination not to give in to it.

I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all earn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life -- it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed.

--- Frances E. Willard, How I Learned To Ride The Bicycle, 1895


Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. It has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.

--- Susan B. Anthony, New York World, February 2, 1896


The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.

--- Ann Strong, Minneapolis Tribune, 1895


One of my favorite things about biking (vs driving):When I used to drive, I always drove with my doors locked...I would play my stereo, and mostly avoid any contact with other drivers on the road (just stayed in my gas-guzzling box..) But now, I ride my bike and oddly enough, I'm less afraid of all those things..And when I am at a stoplight and another cyclist is also there, I usually know their name by the time the light turns green! Its like all these walls come down and although it seems more dangerous than being in a car, I am less afraid!

--- Joni Mehler, 1995


Roads are just congealed oil slicks

--- Alliance for a Paving Moratorium


In the past two decades, thousands of miles of trails have been paved in the United States, but many of them look as if they were designed by someone who'd never ridden a bike. By consulting more with the people who do a lot of travelling under their own power, transportation planners ought to be able to come up with imaginative schemes for making roads, paths and sidewalks more usable to them, and maybe help cut down a bit on our reliance on the automobile.

--- Trouble on the Trail, Washington Post op-ed, May 18, 1993


Shark-nosed automobiles streamed in endless caravan through the gentle acid rain, spraying one another with a film of insoluble filth, a vicious servility oozing by in grease. .... (p. 102)

"Doctor Sarvis, laboring on his bicycle up the long grade of Ninth South toward his home on 23rd East, was not unaware of the pressure of the traffic accumulating in his rear, the clamor of horns pounded by impatient fists, the motorized hatred fermenting at his back. But he thought, "Fuck 'em". Let 'em wait. Let 'em fester. Let 'em walk. Let 'em ride a bike like me, would do me and them and everybody a world of good. Cleanse our city's air, reinvigorate the blood, tone up the muscles, strengthen the heart, burn up that surplus fat, stave off arteriosclerosis, cut down on bypass operations, eliminate transplants, lower the cholesterol count, prolong lives. Yes and reduce oil consumption, slow down the waste of steel and rubber and copper and glass, free human labor and engineering skills for important work -- anything bad for the auto industry and bad for the oil industry is bound to be good for America, good for human beings, good for the land. .... (p. 107)

--- Edward Abbey, Hayduke Lives!


People do not 'drive' cars, they steer them.
People do not 'ride' bicycles, they drive them.

--- A. N. Mouse (submitted by Mark Atkins)


Above all, it is the young who succomb to this magic. They experience the triumph of the motorcar with the full temperment of their impressionable hearts. It must be seen as a sign of the invigorating power of our people that they give themselves with such fanatic devotion to this invention, an invention which provides the basis and structure of our modern traffic.

--- Adolf Hitler


In the prehuman environment much of that carbon removed from the atmosphere by green plants was locked safely away in the earth, where it could not be returned to the air by respiration. Disregarding his own need for a nearly carbon-free atmosphere, man perceived the deposits of coal and petroleum not as safe underground storage of natural pollutants, but as 'fossil fuels'; he set about eagerly unearthing them to fulfill his growing demand for energy.

--- William R. Catton, Jr., Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, p. 99


From an airplane above an American city, the only human activity visible was the movement of cars. [....] From a closer view, the movement and noise of cars dominated the urban landscape. In human minds routes and the vehicles that connected them often seemed more compelling than the places the routes supposedly served [....] At any given moment, a vast part of the population was busy manufacturing or repairing cars, or servicing cars through highway and street work, gas stations, police forces and courts, licensing and taxing bodies, insurance companies, hospitals, morgues and mausoleums. Everything considered, the automobile consumed well over an eighth of all the productive capacity of the American economy [....] Drivers thought of their vehicles merely as convenient (though increasingly expensive) machines to convey them from place to place. But cars inevitably functioned also as parts of the biosphere. In each one, a powerful internal combustion engine turned over insatiably, gulping in several gallons of gas per hour, mixing it with large quantities of air, and expelling the polluted air exhausts, like one long, continuous, carcinogenic fart. So markedly did the voracious cars out-breathe humans that there was no particle of air in metropolitan areas that had not previously passed through the cylinders of at least one car, and bore in the noxious gases and particulates that it carried the traces of that passage.

--- Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia Emerging, p. 77-78


Radek Aster <raster@nowhere.net>