It was a hot summer afternoon; the sun beat down on the helpless city, relentlessly pushing the mercury higher and higher. Waves of heat poured upwards from the hot blacktop of the streets as drivers sat in their air conditioned cabins, insulated from the burning sun. I was desperately trying to navigate the twists and turns that made up this impossible city labyrinth. I had to meet my sister, who was visiting for the weekend, but fate had carefully arranged a strategic barrage of accidents and backups that would inevitably make me late for my meeting. I had the A/C cranked and was moving at a snail’s pace, I could feel my frustrations begin to boil over, the lid was about to pop.
From the corner of my eye a bit of motion caught my attention; I turned my head to see a cyclist glide by our car with a sly smile spread across his face. He was riding an old, beaten up mountain bike that looked like he had just pulled it out of his garage, where it had sat, unused for the last decade. His old used-to-be-white helmet was certainly not safe anymore and sat crookedly to the left and back of his head. It was blazing hot outside of the car, but he was smiling and I was ready to pull my hair out. I have never missed my bicycle more than at that moment then and there.
When the weather is nice and the traffic heavy there are few better places to be than on the seat of a bicycle. Always quicker than a car and seldom as frustrating as dealing with the masses of angry, impolite drivers, the bicycle is the way to travel. As city’s invest more money into bolstering infrastructure for cyclists it becomes easier and easier to leave the car behind and take the bike instead. And through the efforts of local cycling organizations and active cyclists we are seeing cities take action, creating more inviting places to ride.
On that hot, summer afternoon as the cyclist coasted by me with a smug grin on his face, I was reminded that riding a bicycle in summer is one of the best ways to avoid stress in the city. Not only that, but you will always feel better after a ride. It’s not always possible to ditch the car for pedals but when you can, I guarantee that you’ll be all the better for it. This is one of those moments that always creep into my mind when I hop on my bicycle, and I almost always find myself smiling when I think about it. Because when I pass the cars stuck in traffic I know why the cyclist was smiling that day.