i love urban biking!

Saturday 29 August 2009

(Part of a writing sample I wrote for a recent job application.  I decided it could be used here, too — hopefully I caught all the typos, as it’s too late now if I didn’t!)

I must confess: I have an intense passion for urban biking.

I have always enjoyed biking, especially as a form of transportation, but it wasn’t until a recent trip to Philadelphia after a significant break from urban biking that I realized just how much I miss biking in a city and discovered my growing need to return.

I grew up in a small town and then spent some time in suburbia before embarking upon urban living and urban biking. As a child, I used my bike to visit friends, deliver newspapers, and get to the local swimming pool during the summer. Any time I could use my bike to get somewhere, even after I had my license, I would do it. I enjoyed biking during college, both for transportation and leisure, and when I graduated, a new, reliable bike was my requested reward.

Living and working in suburban Chicago for two years, I subscribed to public transportation for work and entertainment opportunities and slowly built up my biking prowess before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where biking would take on a significant role in my life. Living in Milwaukee, my bike was my transportation. I biked 7 miles round trip to work each day, even braving freezing temperatures when snow and ice didn’t make the ride more hazardous than was prudent. In addition to the daily commute, I could be found biking to buy groceries, go curling, see a movie, watch a baseball game, attend church, or explore the city. I even biked to the DMV to renew my driver’s license! In Milwaukee, I discovered how rewarding and invigorating it is to depend on a bicycle to get you where you want to go – no petroleum necessary.

When I subsequently moved to Washington, DC, I knew that biking would be an important part of my time there. I spent my first month, however, without a bike and rediscovered just how many opportunities open up to one with a bicycle. Once I obtained a bike, I was able to see my friends with greater ease and regularity, schedule activities without having to worry about fighting automobile traffic or dealing with public transportation schedules, and explore the city faster than I could on foot and in a more intimate way than when stuck behind the glass of a car or bus. A bicycle allowed me to take true ownership of the city, transforming it from a tourist attraction to a city I called my home.

For the past nine months, I have lived away from urban biking opportunities. I make it a point to bike weekly on local trails, and I even traveled with my bike to Syracuse in June, biking with a friend around the city. However, it wasn’t until I packed up by bike for a recent trip to Philadelphia that I was reminded of all the glories of urban biking and just how much I was itching to return to city biking on a regular basis.

The friends I was visiting were located just outside the city and busy during the day, so I decided to bring along my bike and use it to explore the city. Wednesday morning, I drove my car into the city, found some free parking a mile or more from downtown, and unpacked my bike to begin my day. A few days earlier, I had investigated the city’s bike map online and prepared my route as to make the best use of bike lanes and other bike-friendly routes.

When I biked to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it was easy (and free) to park my bike and quickly take pictures and ascend its famous front steps, a la Rocky Balboa. Then it was off to a movie theater across town, mainly in bike lanes, where I again found parking only steps from my destination. With my movie viewing complete, I hopped on my bike to cycle amidst the evening rush hour, sharing my lane with buses and traveling just as fast, if not faster, than the cars beside me. On that day in Philadelphia, I was transported back to the times when I would bike every day and the opportunities for exploration and transportation seemed unlimited.

It is now obvious to me just how much urban biking is beckoning for my return, and I can hardly wait for that day to come.