One of the best and most pleasant activities that I experienced during my stay in Europe was riding my bike. People might say “biking is completely normal; in all countries you can find lots of bikes and routes”. However, I would argue, in big Latin American cities, where car drivers are utterly aggressive, big road holes are found on most roads and a bike culture is almost non-existent, riding a bike on a daily basis is a really big challenge.
First of all, readers should know a little bit more about my city. Bogota is one of the most populated cities in Latin America, more than nine million people are living here, and the population is growing every day. Well, just acknowledging that, you may realize how hard it is for people to bike around the city. After visualizing that scenario, I will list some of the positive aspects of “leaving your car in the parking lot and riding your bike instead”.
Have you ever been immersed in an activity and you are highly focused on the present moment, no cognitive activity is produced while performing and you are in full control of what you are doing? This is how the flow experience can be described, and certainly what I feel during my long rides towards my working place and all the way coming back home. To gain more insight into the flow experience, check out this video:
Manage your own transporting time
If you have ever been stuck in a traffic jam, either in a car or in a public service bus, you may understand how much stress this can cause you. For instance, when you are stuck in the middle of a highway for a couple of hours every day, doing nothing of value, it will reduce your perceived life quality. Instead, you can avoid traffic jams with your bike, it is considerably cheaper and you will be punctual (which is critical in my society).
Enjoy the “real city”
When driving your car, you do not notice what really happens in your city. You are sitting in a closed apparatus which may give you speed, comfort and a stereo sound system, but at the same time, it keeps you away of what your city has to offer. On your bike you can enjoy the fresh air, the nice surroundings and places you can usually not reach by car.
Find new routes and challenges
Every day I basically go to two or three places where I work, but it always happens that I change my pre-planned routes all of a sudden. I never follow the same path twice. I am always looking for shortcuts and better and safer routes to ride. The bike culture in Bogota is trending, so new routes are built every month, which gives me a lot of choices when going to work.
Be part of a biking community.
If you see people biking, you may realize that they seem to live a different lifestyle, understanding the new environmental challenges we are dealing with and comprehending that we as humans need to go back to the basics, consume less and live more consciously by making use of environmentally friendly means of transportation. As soon as you immerse yourself into the biking culture, you will be part of a sustainable and modern lifestyle movement.
I will keep it simple here: the more you exercise the better your health. If you bike up to one hour a day, five days a week, you will benefit from the following: your muscular tone will increase and your stamina and strength will show great improvements. And if you manage to ride your bike in a steady pace of 16 km/h, you might burn 700 calories each hour.
Undoubtedly I became an enthusiastic urban biker, so I expect that this encouraging article motivates the potential readers to give it a try. So if you are still hesitating whether you will get on the saddle or not, I am going to try to convince you with this brilliant quote:
When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells