3 Truths

The new issue of my BikeBloom newsletter was just published on Medium. This is an excerpt. See the full 4-minute-read (and previous issues) here.

Side note: The photo at the top of this post is pretty, right? I passed this while using the new Google maps function for bike routes on quiet streets. This block was the busiest, but worth it. That’s Schwinneola (who is also featured on the cover of my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike).


Lots of good bikey things are happening in select places, but not enough — and not fast enough. My personal three truths may be ice cream, cakes, and other specialties, lol, but here are three truths about bikes and cities:

  1. If your city truly wanted to be bike-friendly, it would be by now. It’s actually not that hard. If it’s not bike-friendly (note: paint is not protection), there’s more to the story and ain’t pretty. It’s that simple. Don’t let them greenwash unprotected bike lanes as bike infrastructure. It’s not, and everyone knows it.
  1. Cities that have not engineered bike-access-for-all can be divided quickly into two types, based on their easily-observable culture. “Speed Up to Beat” cities, where the culture supports drivers of motor vehicles constantly trying to “beat” any vulnerable road user (including children, parents with strollers, and people in wheelchairs); and “Slow Down to Greet” cities, where drivers affirmatively anticipate the needs of vulnerable road users and make it clear they have their backs. If you road-test this theory where you live, work, or visit, you’ll see what I mean very quickly and fairly consistently. It’s kinda’ cool cultural anthropology. I won’t move somewhere without testing this ever again.
Safe access = dignity. I’ve been writing about dignity for a long time. If interested, here’s a post from 2008.
  1. You can go home again, and bikes can take you there. If you haven’t ridden a bike in the place you grew up, I will say it is one of the greatest pleasures of life. Fair warning: Riding a bike in the place you call home can also stir up unresolved or forgotten pain, which is not necessarily bad if the bike ride helps you process or come to terms with it. I just got back from the New York village where I grew up (lots about that in chapter one of my book), and I rode a bike named Schwinneola as transportation — including past my childhood home under a full moon and in 95-degree heat and high humidity (with special thanks for this sprayground):