Now, that friend owns a bike which he rides occasionally for exercise to compensate for his many miles and hours spent on the road driving. However, he is by no means a bike commuter nor does he have any interest in bike touring. So when he made a follow up comment "I don't know if it's worth it any more" he was referring to what he felt are the inherent risks of riding a bike alongside the road.
Today's bike advocacy groups are all about bike safety tips and creating safer roads for bike commuting and ironically that is the way it has been since the bike was first introduced as an optional mode of transportation to a horse. The following quoted selection from Gizmodo helps to explain this.
Back at the turn of the century, the bicycle was one of the hottest non-horse-powered modes of transportation available. It was also affecting all aspects of city-living, including dealing with crime. Thankfully, in 1901, Pearson's Magazine ran an illustrated feature on how to use your bike to fend off attackers.
"Self-Protection on a Cycle," by Marcus Tindal, is exactly what it sounds like. The rather exhaustive report on bicycle self-defense methods, including but not limited to using the bike as a weapon and to brake-checking oncoming assailants. It's worth noting that about half of the illustrations feature women, who famously enjoyed a sense of liberation with the advent of the new technology.
In a manner of justification and spite for the modern vehicle automobiles themselves are often criticized for green house emissions and blamed as an environmental nuisance if not a hazard. When I was a kid growing up in the mid '70's through the '80's bike advocacy didn't exist and even if it had as kids wanting to travel about town on our BMX bikes the only thing that would sometimes hold us back was our parents not wanting us to be gone for umpteen hours on end. We would travel from one side of town to the other, going to the malls, movie theaters or a friend's house in a neighboring town. We rode sidewalks cut through parking lots and would get off and walk or carry ours bikes as necessary when going through a field and over creeks and through over grown trails. In high school living in Portland, Oregon several years prior to any bike advocacy groups I would ride from outside the city limits to downtown Portland on my road bike using hiking trails and walking or carrying my bike as necessary to get to work. In short, bikes can go many places that cars cannot and I use this to my advantage when commuting.
Now that I am living in south Texas I have heard so many folks say how non bike friendly this area is. I heard this after I had rode the twenty plus miles of open country roads and highways along the Gulf Coast. I have found most folks to be rather courteous and considerate drivers and it must be pointed out that I am a courteous and considerate bike commuter of cars. And that's the point here. With the absence of bike lanes or ability to "take the lane" where traffic moves at a greater speed than I would care to race in I simply recognized the need for a mountain bike for commuting. It's ironic to say thanks to an area where I am forced to use sidewalks, dirt trails and whatever means necessary to navigate my way about town and at certain times I feel a bit like a kid again. I have also found some very fun areas to explore, camp near water and ride hard and fast on non designated bike trails. Yee haw! is the appropriate response for Texas. In fact earlier this week Lisa and the girls drove to the mall and as we had several emails to respond to for our business we decided to meet at a coffee shop near the mall while the teenagers did their thing. I said "alright, I'll be waiting for you at the coffee shop". Lisa didn't feel I could make it to our meeting place before her and so we bet five bucks.
Here are some links to help support your bike riding efforts: from Grant Peterson's book "Just Ride" who I fondly recognize as someone promoting practical bike riding and for those who remember the Bridgestone brochures of the '80's for his witty banter and writing style.
Also, shop Planet Bike Products when you purchase a Planet Bike Product 25% is contributed to bike advocacy, as simple and easy way to lend support.