I was a little startled at some of the comments in Berd's post about an encounter with OPD while cycling. It wasn't particularly harsh, but Norm's comment has stuck with me: "You seem to have all kinds of issues with bike riding and people abusing you or not being aware of you, but you still seem to ride. You must really enjoy your bike."
That made me think about why I bike. I haven't had that much hassling, either from motorists or from "the man," with the exception of an issue with getting one of my bikes on the bus a couple of years back. But there's definitely challenges to cycling, especially this time of year when it gets darker, colder and wetter. Still I ride, and I like riding...why?
It's crazy cheap. Yes, you can spend a bundle on a new bike and gear to go with it, but I've seen car repairs that cost more than a nice little ride-around-town bicycle. And when it costs $50 to fill up the big dumb truck :) then I'd like to make that last as long as possible!
It's convenient. No, really. For commuting, I'm comparing to the bus, which is what I take when the weather is too much for me; in comparison to that, I can leave when I want and make whatever detours I need. Plus with my big cargo bike, I can carry way more stuff. For jaunting about town, I rarely wear specialized bike gear, except for helmet and gloves, so it's just hop on the bike and go. Again, the big cargo bike helps, both with carrying stuff and with being able to wear my normal clothes...the rear wheel is far back enough that I can wear most skirts w/out worrying about it getting snarled.
It keeps me in shape. 10 miles a day on weekdays helps keep my weight down, and the motion is easier on my old-lady knee than running or even walking. Plus I'm getting exercise in time that I'd be wasting anyway, rather than having to make time elsewhere in my schedule, which I've never been good at.
It keeps me from going batshit-insane. Seriously, getting that much exercise does astounding things for my mood. (ask chad360) Plus bicycle commuting gives me time by myself to plan, daydream, or just watch the scenery.
Speaking of which, we have some gorgeous places for cycling, with great trails and lovely low-speed neighborhoods; I've even ridden velodrome style around the big circle in front of the capitol building on a summer Sunday afternoon. And even barrelling down State you get a fantastic view!
And finally, it's just plain fun. I didn't learn how to ride a bike until I was 29 years old, and learning to ride has given me a bit of childhood that I never got when I actually was a child. At its best, bicycling is a pure delight, and something that I look forward to doing.
Yes, I too sometimes complain: crummy facilities, lousy weather, inconsiderate motorists. I think everyone complains about anything they do all the time; it's just human nature. When it's dark and I'm trying to figure out how the hell Lacey's traffic engineers thought I was supposed to get across the roundabout via the bike trail...it can be hard to remember the joy I had that morning watching the sun rise over Chambers Lake.
But that joy is still there, along with all the practical benefits of using a bicycle for transportation. I hope that helps those who are not (yet!) cycling to understand a little better why we who do cycle continue to do so despite the occasional frustrations.