I hear this a lot. Usually it’s part of a discussion about Michelle biking with the kids, and other person thinks it looks fun but then “but I’m not a bike person”. It can come up when talking about solo commuting, but those conversations are a little harder to start. And I’ve never gotten to “I am not a runner” when discussing errands on foot because that would involve getting past the blank stare.
Anyways, here is my thought on the topic:
I am not a bike person either.
But let’s take a step back. What does this even mean? I could probably go off on a tangent about people self-identifying as their cars, but in reality I think it boils down to “Biking is not a hobby for me”. And because of that, the person has never really thought about what it would mean to bike to some destination.
I was in this camp. I ran (raced) in school. I had walked from on- and off-campus housing and biked from off-campus housing a bit, but it never occurred to me to consider that in choosing a location. Instead, after graduating I did what “everyone” does. I moved to an apartment somewhat far from my job, bought a car, and started doing the “normal” commute thing.
On the flip side, recreational/fitness riding has never appealed to me. At all. Running offers enough gear decisions for me, the choice of short-sleeves vs long sometimes being too much (and I’m sure Michelle has something to say about the shoes). I have enough trouble finding a reasonable 10 mile route where I can use sidewalks. And I’m not interested in riding with cars. Or down hills. So, since bike commuters were those “bike people”, that clearly wasn’t for me.
But this is very much a US thing (and a few other countries). Here, bicycling is pretty much just a hobby. Bikes are toys – pretty crappy ones for kids and absurdly expensive ones for those with the means.
Except we’ve got it all wrong. A bike is a great tool, remarkably efficient even without carbon fiber. People are figuring this out. Alas, they are across the lake in Seattle, more so across the state line in Portland, and even more so in cities in other countries (like Vancouver, Copenhagen, Amsterdam). In a suburb, it’s still a lonely existence (more on that shortly).
But, now I go some places by bike. My first choice is to run – that is my hobby – but if I’m taking too much stuff or not going alone then I’ll consider the bike. Even ignoring the positive aspects of biking, it turns out that I’m also not a car person. Now, I understand driving as a hobby; take a place like a dedicated track and now you’ve got something. Certainly if simulation-style driving games can be fun then the real thing can be too. It’s not something I’m going to take up, but I think I get it. But city or suburban driving? There’s nothing appealing about that. Your whole purpose as a driver is to make sure the trip isn’t exciting. And then you get to park.