Why We Ride Bikes

By Krista Van Tassel
April 9th, 2013

At Wells Fargo, we support a number of bike commuter teams as part of our global GreenTeam network.

Amy-Harcourt.jpgThis year, we’re excited to collaborate with Amy Harcourt of Bikes Make Life Better to help add more bikers to our commuting mix.  Amy is developing training for Wells Fargo team members to learn how to ride safely and with confidence. In fact, as part of this work, I promised to peddle my way to the office for at least one day a week in May. Soon I’ll share my first experiences as a bike commuter in San Francisco.

In the meantime, I’m pleased to introduce you to Amy, our newest guest blogger. Amy will be sharing a series of posts related to biking this month. Check out her first one below and please share your stories of bike commuting.

Amy is co-founder of Bikes Make Life Better, a consulting firm that helps leading organizations to develop impactful sustainability initiatives through the use of well-planned and executed bicycle and transportation programs. She has 25 years’ experience as marketing and business consultant to Fortune 500 companies, and she’s now one of the new and rare breed – a bicycle consultant. She and her team provide a simple and affordable way for forward-thinking organizations to enhance transportation, sustainability and wellness. Clients include Facebook, Salesforce, Williams-Sonoma, Mozilla, Wells Fargo and other large organizations committed to sustainability.

Amy moved to San Francisco from the Great Lakes where she had to drive to mail a letter. Car-free, she gets around the Bay Area on a bike, including to and from client meetings, and is determined to look good doing it (yes, she rides in heels!). (–kvt)

Why do people ride bicycles? To be healthier? To be greener? To save money?

These all make sense, but they aren’t really why.

I got hooked on biking because it’s a pleasure, not because biking lowers my carbon footprint, improves my health or brings me into contact with different parts of the city and new adventures … the reward is emotional gratification, which trumps reason, as it often does.

— David Byrne quoted in The New York Times, about why he rides a bike all over New York and all around the world (for more on that, read his book Bicycle Diaries).

The real tipping point between “yeah, I should do that” and actually getting on a bike is not logic, but emotional gratification. It just feels good!

I could give you a list of reasons, with stats to back them up, on why you should ride a bike (in fact, if you keep reading, you’ll see that I do), but when you get right down to it, you’ll only ride if it feels good, if it feels right.

So before you leave this post thinking a bike commute may just be too much to take on right now, ask yourself this:

How did I feel the last time I was in a car or bus?

How did I feel the last time I was on a bike?

If you’re like me, years of driving everywhere has desensitized you to what it really feels like. At its best, it’s “not that bad.” At its worst, we want to pull every hair out of our otherwise smart heads.

Bikephoto.jpgBut for anyone who grew up exploring their neighborhood by bike, the memory comes back instantly, with visceral accuracy. We can feel the air in our hair; smell the cut grass; hear our friends shouting and laughing from their own bikes.

For most of us, bikes represent our earliest freedom. And there’s no reason why they can’t do that again.

Did you know that the average bicycle commuter loses 13 pounds in the first year with no substantial change to their diet? Now there’s freedom.

If everyone who lives within five miles of their workplace left their car at home for one day each week, its effect on reducing global warming pollution would be like taking a million cars off the road. A million!

Forty percent of all trips in the suburbs are less than two miles, and we do 90% of those trips in cars. The statistics are worse in cities, where parking and congestion are big issues.

In most cities and many suburbs, commuting by bike is faster than by car or bus. In car-centric Los Angeles, a group of cyclists easily beat a JetBlue passenger traveling from Burbank to Long Beach in the now famous “Carmageddon” race. A stunt, yes, but a powerful message about the efficiency of cycling.

So, what will motivate you to ride a bike?

Weight loss, carbon reduction, less dependence on foreign oil, time savings, more money in your pocket? Or, the desire to recapture something in your day that’s been missing? Fresh air, fun or that feeling of freedom you had as a kid.

Tell us your bike story in the comments section below. And join us next week for a column focused on brushing off the cobwebs and getting ready for a trial bike commute.


Tags:   employee   energy   transportation   volunteer   
Krista Van Tassel

Krista Van Tassel

As Community and Team Member Engagement manager for Wells Fargo’s Environmental Affairs Team, Krista supports the company’s 70+ Green Teams, recognizing and promoting environmental innovator best practices, and engaging and educating team members about their role in helping the company’s sustainability efforts. She also manages Wells Fargo’s Environmental Solutions for Communities’ $3 million annual nonprofit grant program focused on helping make long-term sustainable economic investments in local communities where its customers and 264,000 team members work and live. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2009, Krista worked in a variety of sustainability and marketing positions in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. Krista earned her MBA in International Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

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Carrie Wolteron April 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm:

Exciting stuff! I like the idea of learning how to bike with confidence. I live in Seattle and biking on busy streets can be daunting. I welcome the opportunity to learn more about how to overcome the fear of biking alongside city buses and cars!

Elenaon April 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm:

What a great article! It’s true, I could ride my vintage schwin to many of my errands. I live too far from work to ride but I could always move!

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