I first started biking on campus last fall because living on Washington Street made it a necessity. But once I realized biking could be an escape, something that gave me space to think without feeling like a waste of time, I fell in love with it.
These days, you’ll probably see me whizzing by you on the way to class or carrying my bike helmet into Usdan. If you manage to catch me before I ride off to my next activity, I’ll no doubt detain you by gushing about my bike and how useful it is on campus.
So in the interest of saving you some time—and sparing my poor friends the lecture they’ve already heard—I’ve decided to explain in writing why biking at Wesleyan is the absolute best.
The speed and convenience
I can cut my travel time in half by riding my bike instead of walking, which means less trudging across campus in the cold and more enjoying the warmth of my apartment. And unlike with driving, I don’t have to worry about parking tickets or faraway lots; as long as there’s a rack or signpost near my destination, I can lock up my bike and immediately run to class.
Although you could argue that biking up the steeper hills isn’t worth the effort, I’d have to disagree. Sure, I’m sweaty and a little sore by the time I make it to the top, but I’ll have the satisfaction of arriving sooner than everyone I passed on the sidewalk. Plus, I’ll get the health benefits of having “sprinted” up a slope that I would have otherwise ambled along.
The carrying capacity
The beauty of a bike, besides its efficiency as a mode of transportation, is how much you can load onto it. Things I’ve biked with this semester include a microwave, my own weight in groceries, three giant bags of microfiber stuffing, and a blender set. Not to mention the water bottle, bike lock, workout clothes, soccer cleats, and textbooks I keep in the basket and saddlebags (hanging off the rack on my rear wheel) on a regular basis.
Soon I’ll be the proud owner of a handlebar-mounted latte holder, which will prevent the front-of-the-shirt spillage that occurs every time I try to walk with a to-go cup.
Really, what could be better than having a cup holder, a glove compartment, and a trunk’s worth of space without paying for a car?
The low cost
Speaking of cars, one of the advantages of bike ownership is its relatively low cost. A bike is about the tenth of the price of a car (for example, a $500 bike vs. a $5,000 car) but will last you just as long. You’ll also be able to travel as far and as fast as you want without worrying about gas money, tolls, or expensive maintenance.
Plus, pimping your ride can be as simple as bungee cording a milk crate. Even your biggest indulgences—my latte holder, for instance—won’t come close to bankrupting your student salary.
It’s good for you AND the environment
The planet won’t be the only one to thank you for your tireless biking uphill. Your body will reward you with super sexy calves and better health, including lower levels of stress. And, despite the exposure to air pollution and risk of traffic accidents, biking actually increases your lifespan overall, a 2010 study from the journal Environmental Health Perspectives revealed.
It boosts your mood
Whether you’re biking off into the countryside by yourself or joining a few friends for a jaunt around the town, your ride is almost guaranteed to brighten your day. In fact, bike commuters have been shown to experience “greater feelings of freedom, relaxation and excitement” than those who drive, according to a 2011 study from the New Economic Foundation.
As for anecdotal evidence, one of my favorite pick-me-ups is biking through the woods while blasting music. At worst, I feel like I’m in the sad montage in an indie movie; at best, I feel like I’m flying through the golden leaves.
My only caveat: I have yet to bike in Connecticut during spring semester. So if any lingering snow or ice puts you in a bad mood during your ride, blame the weather!
Davis is a member of the Class of 2017.