Intentional Observation, from a bicycle

Streetsblog reported yesterday on New York City bicyclist trends:

    * For Bicycle Commuters: 44% start in Manhattan and 41% start in Brooklyn; 81% end in Manhattan and 10% end in Brooklyn.

    * At the work place: 52% park and lock their bikes outdoors, 48% indoors.

    * The average commute time for cyclists is 35 minutes.

    * The most common reason that non-commuting cyclists do not commute by bike is because of driver behavior/traffic and lack of safe storage at work.

    * The most common reason commuter cyclists do commute by bike is because it is healthy/good exercise and because it is environmentally friendly.

I empathize with the most common reason for non-commuting cyclists, that being related to driver behavior towards pedestrians. This is especially true in our little town of Siloam Springs, with its blatant lack of sidewalks and very narrow roads. In fact, I was more comfortable biking to work in a town of 250,000, sharing a four-lane road with city buses, knowing that the drivers knew something of courtesy to people on foot or cycle.

Nonetheless, I bike to work whenever I can. I used to ride more often — in the rain and even 10″ of snow — but my “good” bike is out of commission, and my present job requires me to be a little more professional. Biking, as the Streetblog article points out, is good for exercise and saves on gas money.

It also slows a person down. If I had driven to work today, I would likely have been in too much of a hurry to stop and appreciate the morning light piercing the clouds,

Fog burns off

the beautiful blue sky and the fog burning off in the distance. Nor would I have made the opportunity to stop and talk to friends who live along my daily route.

It’s sad to me that a place like Beijing — a city reportedly adding 1,000 cars a day to its “fleet” — feels the need to participate in something like World Car Free Day, in a place that used to be connotatively synonymous with bicycles.

I feel cheated on days I “can’t” ride to work because of rain, or the need to pick something up from the printers. I have more energy on days that I bike, and I get the opportunity to stop along the way and talk to people or take pictures.

Why don’t more people bike to work?


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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