I can’t resist temptation. Buy me a block of chocolate and I’ll eat the whole thing in one day. Replace my bike with a car and I’ll drive everywhere becoming fat and lazy. This is why I don’t have chocolate in the house and don’t own a car. I have no willpower and I don’t think I’m alone. Our communities are full of people with good intentions but the road to hell is paved with chocolate, cars, alcohol, and drugs. Sugar and fat are cheap and abundant; our towns and cities are shrines to motor vehicles.
I have been cycling less and walking more lately because the children are too big for the cargo bike and it’s not safe for them to ride their own bikes here. Consequently I’ve been trying to do other things to get the same exercise each day but there’s really no equivalent to having a daily active travel commute. Going for a run, to the gym, even exercise apps require willpower. I have to make a special effort to do those things but cycling from one place to another is exercise for free because you have to get there somehow. Commuter cycling lets you inject exercise into your day without having to make any special effort and without having to find the time to do it. You might say, well, walking is still exercise! But it’s not the same. Walking doesn’t raise your heart rate as much and doesn’t produce the same invigorating effect afterwards.
Exercise releases endorphins which make us feel good but riding a bike does more than just electrify our blood. It’s exhilarating; it lifts the spirits; it has entertainment value in its own right. No-one comes back from a run and says, “That was so much fun!”. But riding a bike is fun. Uphills can be tough and exhausting but where there’s uphills there’s downhills. People go and spend entire days and weeks on the sides of hills zooming down on two sticks just for fun. Zooming downhill on a bike is not so very different and pure pleasure. You don’t get that same effect from running, walking, or going to the gym. Cycling is the best way to travel for physical and mental health.