Cycling for culture

The biking community gets more out of their bikes than healthier transportation.

by Courtney Johnson

I used to overlook biking as no more than a recreational activity or a mode of transportation. I have been proven wrong. Other than its obvious convenience and recreational gain, bike buffs choose the simpler way of life because of the culture that it circles around.

Yet, why are these bike aficionados so passionate about their sport? The same question can be applied to those who are passionate about running, football or video games. It is because of everything that biking represents.

Biking in the Twin Cities represents diversity. It brings people together from different backgrounds to partake in the same activity, in the same city and on the same streets. Some choose to bike because of its economic benefits. Others choose to bike because of the environmental or health benefits associated with it. Whichever reason somebody chooses to bike to the grocery store or class, the point is that they’re partaking in the simplicity of the biking culture and experiencing the Twin Cities in a different way.

If you’re not an avid bike commuter around campus, much like myself, the idea of navigating the bike lanes on and off campus is intimidating. Knowing where to go and who to yield to, not to mention avoiding motorists, is not something that I want to try out as a rookie-biker. But according to the Minnesota Safety Council, bike road rules are the same as motorists. In the state of Minnesota, bikers are legally considered to be operating vehicles. Using common sense when crossing intersections and paying attention to traffic are simple ways to avoid an accident with a car or another biker. It does console me to know that the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition “advocates for a city where bicycling is encouraged and everyone feels comfortable riding.” This volunteer-driven coalition of fellow bikers works toward establishing safe streets and trails for current cyclists and wannabe bikers in the Twin Cities all year round.

Most recently, this coalition helped to organize an event on North Lowry Avenue in Minneapolis called “Open Streets Mpls,” closing off motorized traffic and allowing bikers, shoppers and neighborhoods to safely socialize and get to know other community members. It was a great community event organized by experienced cyclists who are looking out for the safety of fellow bikers and members of their community. This is incentive enough for me to want to get off campus bike lanes and give biking around the city a real try.

Another incentive to biking is the convenience of it over owning a car. For those who live close to work and campus, they spend less money on gas and parking and less time waiting for the bus or walking to class. Instead of putting money into a machine to get you around, you’re truly investing in yourself and your own body. Furthermore, all of the time earned back from biking can be spent in more advantageous ways. Instead of driving straight home on your regular route, you can switch up your bike route with more ease. Taking spontaneous detours allows one to explore and discover new pockets of a city that has a lot to offer. You might discover intriguing and inviting bike paths, a new bar you might try Friday night or perhaps even a quaint park that would make a romantic place to take a date. All of these discoveries became possible because you were on a bike, riding trails and taking short cuts that no car could ever go. 

Biking offers a healthier way to enjoy the beauty of Minneapolis. It presents the opportunity to get to know your neighbors, fellow bikers and your city in a unique and efficient way. It is something to talk about with friends, a way to get to know new people and a pretty awesome lifestyle.