Visions of multi-tasking
I bought a bicycle for my birthday last month. I also bought a bicycle trailer for my daughter. I have high hopes of cycling through the city, kids in tow, doing our errands and waving to motorists sitting in traffic as we pass them by. I'd be saving money, exercising, and reducing my environmental impact all at the same time!
Then I took my daughter on her first ride to school - it was raining (there was a cover on the kid trailer) and my chain derailed. After 10 minutes of fiddling with the chain and several morning cyclists whizzing by, someone at last stopped to help when... ta da! Chain fixed!
Then I took her on our second ride and went to the grocery store - I pedaled 9 miles round-trip, the last half pedaling with 70 pounds behind me and into a serious head-wind brought on by a cold front. "Maybe a bike isn't such a good idea!" I thought as my quads burned and churned up a hill.
How do people do this every day with no car as a weenie-out option?!
Less car, more everything else
The PIRG (a fancy-schmancy research group) published a study last month, Millennials in Motion, showing that millennials as a generation actually prefer to drive less and rely more on walking, bicycling, using public transport and/or the sharing economy of zipcars, Lyft and Uber. Perhaps I'm just too car-oriented, but I have to wonder whether there is a point at which not driving becomes too impractical.
For bicycling in particular, living in a city with extreme weather (Las Vegas, New England), extreme hills (San Francisco!), or extreme roads (Houston!) seems to be something that requires extreme dedication to the use of pedal power on a daily basis. If you have a job that requires professional dress, then bicycling might be a challenge to pull off as well, especially as a woman. If you have kids, then a family-friendly neighborhood (read - safe, affordable and good schools) will also be a strong driver of where you live and that may not be a place that is also conducive to bicycling everywhere.
But that makes me wonder if we will see more millennials decide to live in cities precisely because they are bike-friendly and have a casual vibe that ignores helmet-hair. And perhaps we will see our generation push elected officials to develop smarter transportation policies that don't put cars on an exclusive pedestal.
I know I will get used to bicycling around town - I just have to do it more to have a mindset shift and see that less car means less hassle.