🌪️ My new book is available for pre-order! Reserve your copy.

“My bike is everything to me”

Via Kottke, I stumbled across this quote from NBA star Bill Walton, who died this week but I heretofore did not know.

I love my bike. My bike is everything to me. My bike is my gym, my church, and my wheelchair. My bike is everything that I believe in going on in the Biosphere. It’s science, it’s technology, it’s the future, engineering, metallurgy – you name it, it’s right there in my bike. My bike is the most important and valuable thing that I have.

And as pointed out, bicycles are pretty much the pinnacle of what humans can achieve with our mental power and machines as efficiency goes:

…a person on a bicycle can go three or four times faster than a pedestrian, but uses five times less energy in the process. He carries one gram of his weight over a kilometer of flat road at an expense of only 0.15 calories. The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man’s metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, a person outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well.

Steve Jobs once parroted this, noting that man is not a fast runner compared to many animals. Just sorta in the middle-of-the-pack. But once you use a bicycle, humans are way faster than any other land animal. Hence his “computers are the bicycle of the mind” remark.

And because no one is allowed to enjoy things anymore, once you start admiring the simplicity of a bicycle people will tell you people wearing lycra and toting $2k bicycles isn’t equitable, or fair, or that it’s unsafe, or paid for with profits made by Big Bicycle.

These are all just choices we’ve chosen to make. I chose to make a bike my primary means of moving around and my bicycle is my everything, too. I have several, one of which is arguably the nicest, most expensive thing I own. But I own it. And I can fix it. And I understand it. And it means I can have fun, exercise, be outside, and it doesn’t harm anyone by producing noise or pollution. It doesn’t wear down roads or require millions in tax subsidies and expense.

No car owner can say that. Even if you own a car — which is probably not the case since by the time you have it paid off it’s time to buy another — you will never experience a place the same as riding a bicycle. Even if you don’t like that idea, I think you’re wrong. Because no one has ever ridden a bicycle that was properly fitted, designed for their body, and in a comfortable space and thought, “This is awful.”

As an aside, the IBJ reported yesterday Indiana Charter schools, mostly in Marion County, want the State of Indiana to pay for transportation for their kids:

Charter school leaders say the lack of transportation affects their enrollment and ability to serve the most underprivileged students. Cost is the most pressing challenge that many would like state leaders to consider.

A state law passed in 2021 expanded the type of vehicles schools can use to transport students to and from schools, giving charters the option of transporting students in vans carrying up to 15 people.

That hasn’t entirely solved the problem.

In the meantime, the city’s charter schools offer a patchwork of limited transportation solutions that some are still trying to refine.

At Invent Learning Hub, the school spends roughly $64,000 for each of the two yellow buses it contracts through Miller Transportation. But if families can’t make it to certain bus stops, they sometimes withdraw, said Aleicha Ostler, the school’s executive director.

PilotED Bethel Park Elementary has struggled to fill its two bus driver positions for its in-house transportation needs.

“As we’ve scaled, we found out it’s actually become less and less cost-effective for us to do it ourselves,” said Principal Jennica Anderson. “This upcoming year, we’re looking to work with a new transportation company in the area.”

The school also uses HopSkipDrive, a car service, to transport one student experiencing homelessness. But like Irvington Community Schools, which estimated a cost of about $50 each way based on mileage for their students, Anderson said she has found the service to be costly.

“That barely cracks the egg,” said Häns Lassiter, CEO of Irvington Community Schools, referring to the new revenue. “If we were able to have our fair share in property tax revenue sharing, we could possibly have a reasonable facsimile of a transportation department.”

$64,000 could buy a lot of bicycles. Or bus passes. Neither of these was mentioned at all in the very lengthy report.

You can’t make this stuff up.


Want to know when stuff like this is published?
Sign up for my email list.

Photo of Justin Harter

About JUSTIN HARTER

Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

Leave a Comment