Cycling for Everyone
Cycling for Everyone

50 Good Reasons to Cycle

28 August 2023

Think about it. “When people are on vacation, their favorite mode of transportation is the bicycle. Why not all year round?” These are the types of questions raised in a new French book on bicycle culture: “50 good reasons to cycle”. Not to convince people to cycle, but to let them discover what it means to cycle. It’s about a lifestyle that is spreading around the world fast and about enchantment.

When you open it, it looks like a children’s book. 50 big colorful drawings by the French illustrator Clod touch and move the reader. Accompanied by poetic and philosophical observations by the Dutch bicycle activist Stein van Oosteren. It’s a visual experience that sets your mind off, just like cycling. It’s designed to produce emotions.

No rational explanations about pollution and the climate, promise. A few thoughts about it perhaps, but not to make the reader feel guilty. Reason 17 says: “The bicycle pollutes a lot less than the car”. Ok, we know that. But did you ever think about the visual pollution caused by cars in the city? Check it out: “Imagine public space like a big room in your house, like your ‘second living room’. In this space a parked car would appear to you like a user mistake, like a trash can next to your couch”. This is not anti-car language. It’s mental exercise to see what we have forgotten: what attractive public space looks like. The city we really want.

“The bicycle is almost nothing, but enough to access the intimate life of streets. Its shape looks like a key capable of opening up the neighborhood, the world. The city is so full of poetry that as soon as you hop on a bicycle, it overflows.” This thinking about the bicycle as “poetry of cities” helps to change cities. You don’t need to tell people they have to use the car less, they know. But what do they get in exchange if they cycle instead? Well, this: a conversation with the city. Even new friends.

Life is about opportunities, and opportunities arise from encounters. The bicycle makes you available for that. “As opposed to cars in car cities in the US, where you need a car accident to have two human beings meet each other”. Is this naïve and unrealistic? Then you haven’t tried the bicycle yet. Too afraid? Start by reading “50 good reasons to cycle”. You’ll be the first one to send a copy to your mayor asking him for bicycle paths. The sooner, the better.

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