Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Riding a Bike Improves Intelligence

People ride bikes for many reasons. Some ride recreationally, some socially, some for exercise and some as a transportation and environmental solution.

Through it all, the average cyclist is usually able to explain to their non-cycling friends why riding a bike in the city is an appealing, liberating, rewarding and positive experience.

Missing from these conversations is an over-looked benefit to riding a bike in the city and that is simply the elevation of intelligence that occurs as a cyclist starts getting in some serious mileage.

Witness the "Bike the Vote" event this past Saturday when a motley crew of cyclists gathered at the Eco-Village for a bike ride to Marsh Park in Elysian Valley. A simple ride turned into a conversation with City Council President Eric Garcetti on the significant ramifications of an Obama for President vote and ranged from transportation to health care to Iraq to the power of the people to speak up and to make national politics personal and to have meaningful input on the outcome. "Hey, cyclists, it's time to change the world!"

Witness the "Storm the Bastille" ride this evening when cyclists will gather for a ride to the Boardroom of the DWP where they will challenge the Mayor's reps and the City Council reps who gather for the Bicycle Advisory Committee to truly represent the cycling community. "Storm the Bastille" rides take place throughout the County and cyclists have Stormed the Pasadena City Council, the Beverly Hills City Council, the Santa Monica City Council and with great regularity, Los Angeles at many levels, always discussing with great eloquence the issues of the community.

These simple rides bear wintess to the fact that in taking a ride the average cyclist usually ends up discussing law ("Hey! CVC Section 21 restricts a local authority from enacting or enforcing any ordinance unless expressly authorized in the CVC. You can't restrict cycling on this street!") politics ("Well, Obama has actually uttered the word "Bicycle" in public. Let's look at his record on the Environment.") physics ("Actually, torque is measured in pound-feet, not feet-pound which is the unit of measure for energy/work.") math ("Is Alex really a professor? Maybe he can help me decide between a 39/14 and a 53/19.") economics ("Actually, street calming measures that benefit cyclists also benefit local merchants as demonstrated in the Valencia Street improvements in SF.")

Ultimately, in going for a ride, cyclists connect. They connect to the street, the community, the environment and with each other. Through it all, cyclists develop an acute sensitivity to their surroundings, borne out of pure survival instincts and that sensitivity inevitably leads to the Battle Cry, "Hey, I've got rights!"

That's right, cyclist have rights. We have the right to ride these mean streets and we have the right to ride safely and with the support and respect of our community, our leadership and our law enforcement.
This is the Year of the Cyclist and this is the year that we claim and proclaim the Bicyclist Bill of Rights!

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