There is no reason not to

For me choosing bikes is easy, and choosing to help others choose bikes is even easier. I could go into all the reasons why, and hone my argument based on my audience. I could describe the livability and safety of streets where bikes hold dominion over cars for folks interested in building stronger, healthier communities. For the economically inclined, I could talk about how bike culture and infrastructure keeps money local, empowers neighborhood business, and doesn’t waste resources, citing a bazillion fun facts from Elly Blue’s Bikenomics. For folks that don’t deny the existence of climate change the argument kind of makes itself, as it does for folks that want to see activity more ingrained in day-to-day life. There is a synergy between what bikes do for the individuals that ride them, and what that riding does for the community–and we will only ultimately understand that when everyone who wants a bike gets one.

Until then we can only postulate what our communities will look like, cite studies done in the Netherlands, and gather the stories of folks who choose bikes. For me though, it’s much simpler than all the complex theory a bike advocate could dive into–I just need to remember what it was like to get a bike for the first time, have it be mine, and ride it whenever I wanted to. I just have to remember wanting to go to school for the first time in my life in 6th grade because I knew I could ride my bike there. I only need to remember the day I forgot my lock–or did I even have a lock?–and just left my bike at the racks by the gym because I had to go to class and didn’t know what else to do, and my red single-speed Mongoose being gone at the end of the day. And then remember the day I bought a red Motiv at age 16 with the money I made at the movie theater at the mall. And the day I found a Miyata at age 26 for $15 at a silent auction, and the week that I learned to refurbish it, and the half decade I’ve ridden it to places I didn’t realize I could reach on a bike.

These are all powerful feelings, and they make the choice to help others find their own life-changing bikes, and create their own powerful experiences with them, these feelings make the choice incredibly easy. The list of humans who want and need bikes but can’t advocate for those needs goes on and on, and it gives me great pleasure to see how far it goes. Whether I’m helping a busy friend buy a bike or fix their own because the whole experience baffles them, or working with Bikes for Humanity, sharing mechanical knowledge or granting bikes to 4th and 5th graders, or working for Give Them Bikes! to connect Central City Concern clients or Portlanders at large with their freedom machines, the choice to advocate for bikes gets easier and easier.

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Bike for Humanity Free Tune Up Clinic circa 2015, Miyata with milk crate featured in background

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The author (left) and Matthew (right) after riding bikes to Centralia to join the Vancouver to Vancouver relay, July 2016

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22 bikes granted to 4th and 5th graders in the Cully Community, May 2017

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