"Just try it and see how it works"
Did you know that the managing editor of the Kirksville Daily Express bicycles to work? Jason Hunsicker started bicycling this summer and loves it! He lives a mile away from his office. After the Rotary Park hill, it's an easy ride that doesn't take much longer to bike than to drive, once he's parked the car and walked to the door.
When driving, "I don't take time to appreciate things around me," he told me. On a bike, he listens to the sounds of nature, feels the fresh air, and gets a few minutes to himself. The few minutes of "recreating and relaxing" adds a boost of energy to the day.
Most of the time, it's been cool enough and his ride is short enough that he doesn't need a change of clothes. Because of the steep hill, he takes a spare shirt, and on hot days he bikes in shorts and changes to office clothes when he arrives. At first, he walked up that hill, but he quickly learned how to use his gears by reading some articles about it and practicing in a parking lot.
He intends to give the cold weather a shot, resorting to the car only when the streets have snow and ice. "I don't usually mind cold weather," he said. With the days getting shorter, he plans to get lights so he can see the potholes that are so common on Kirksville streets. (It's also important to have lights so that you are visible to other traffic.)
What would he do if he had to cover a story that was too far away to bike? His wife's car is parked just 2 blocks away and he could borrow it, but so far, he has biked to all his stories: the public school, the health & fitness center, and Rotary Club noon meetings. Once he had to bike on Baltimore for a little bit, but it "wasn't bad".
His $125 Walmart bike, a Kent del Rio cruiser, has served him well. I've warned in the past about buying a Walmart bike, because of shoddy parts and workmanship, so he was prepared when the brand new bike needed some repairs from Pedals & Spokes. Still, he got a pretty good deal on a starter bike when he wasn't sure if he would like biking to work, and he might upgrade to a better quality bike in the future.
He hasn't experienced harassment from motorists, but "some people don't see you," he said, "which is really scary." Drivers just don't know how to act around bikes. Some will drive slowly behind you forever, others will fly past you and then turn right. At intersections, they don't understand when you stop at the stop sign.
For anyone thinking about biking, he encourages you to forget about the negatives. "Just try it and see how it works." Kirksville is a very easy town to bike around with so many side streets and ways that the city connects to other parts. It's easy to avoid traffic, and this is the kind of place to experiment.
Listening to him talk about it made me nostalgic. I've loved bicycling for years now, but the most fun of all was the first few months when I learned something wonderful every day: noticing the trees and the smells, learning about gears and what an amazing difference it made to clean the chain, how to dress just right for the ever changing weather. I agree with Jason. Just try it!