Earth Day 2014 – Why do you ride?

Earth_Day_2014_thumbTomorrow is Earth Day (or maybe it already is where you are) and that got me thinking about why I ride. Why I ride a bike at all and why I commute. When I started riding, there was no Earth Day. There was just days. Long and short. As a kid I would spend many of them riding all over the place on my bike – traversing distances and covering territory that most would probably think twice about now. We canvassed neighborhoods, shopping malls, fast-food joints, vacant dirt-lots, urban paths through parkland and school playgrounds galore. We’d go out for hours on 20″ single speed bmx bikes. There was no Strava then. You raced right next to dudes, and aero was turning your hat backwards.

Then I got a driver’s license and the bikes sat.

Eventually a friend got me into mountain biking. Almost the grownup version of the epic bmx afternoon recons. At some point I started riding my bike to the corner 7-11 again for a slurpee. Corner store runs are like the gateway drug to bike commuter crack.

In a few years I was commuting full time and had adopted a ‘lifestyle’. I had canned responses ready for people who queried.

“Because it makes me feel good. Decreases my footprint. Saves dough.”

Really, it was because it was silly fun. It was kid-time, all the time. And the slurpees fell like rain.

Recently my oldest two kids have started taking bike rides on the country roads around our house. The two of them, sans parents. They come back flush in the face and giddy. I went with them recently and saw flashes of the looks on their faces. That freedom look. No malls, no fast-food joints out here, but plenty of open space,fresh air and directions to go in. They’re starting to get it.

At the LBS where I work, we have a celebrity customer. She’s a nice woman you’ve probably seen in a movie. She comes in to geek out on bike stuff. She has a couple of bikes of her own. She also has a lot of Facebook friends.

Although I have no proof,  I think she rides to stay connected the person she was before she got recognized on the street. The kid with the string of 7-11’s and vacant lots to hit. Riding for the sheer bliss of the act itself and because it simply seems like the most natural thing…

We’ve all got reasons for riding, pragmatic and fantastical. Get out and ride on the Earth for the Earth and all us little kids set loose upon it.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out our profile of green-friendly commuter Ricky Albores.

Bicycle commuting can be one of the most sustainable and beneficial things out there that we can do on so many levels. Tell us why you ride in the comments or on social media via #EarthDayBike2014 – whether it’s for the Earth, your health, or the slurpees.

About Kent Fackenthall

Dad. Biker. Designer. Minister of Propaganda for the Bike Commuter Cabal. Find me on Google+ and Instagram.


  1. I ride to be free . I ride for the freedom of not being a part of the crowd. The crowded interstates, the crowded parking garages, the crowded shopping centers. I ride for the freedom of not being tied to the gas pump. I have commuted all winter and only today did I notice gas prices are near $4.00 a gallon. Within a week in my area will switch to what is called reformulated gas to lessen air pollution during the summer months and then the price per gallon will soar above $4.00 I ride because I am tired. Not tired of cycling but tired of lining the bank accounts of big oil companies sucking the life out of our resources and our money. I ride because I can.