Congratulations, Emily Adams, for discovering that bicycles are more than recreation or exercise equipment (letter to the editor, June 3) and thanks to the adults who helped you discover it.
Though bikes can serve those purposes, they are essentially what Emily discovered – an efficient, enjoyable and healthful way to go places. Bicycles gave ordinary people a way to expand their world before they could afford rudimentary and undependable 19th and early 20th century automobiles. Today, developing nations make extensive use of pedal power for daily commerce and in most developed countries, large numbers of bikes mix easily with pedestrian and motorized traffic.
Last month I took my new folding bike to Manhattan, where I had daily risked my life biking when I was a teenager. (Even 55 years ago, you had to be 18 to drive a car there.) To my happy surprise, I discovered that N.Y. streets have become more physically accommodating to cyclists and that N.Y. motorists (including even those infamous cabbies) have become rather courteous.
Thanks to progressive federal and city policies, bikes are again becoming an accepted and valued part of daily life in N.Y. and other American cities, much as they already are in other world capitals.
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Like you Emily, I (re)discovered the joyous freedom of using my bike for basic transportation in addition to using it for fun. Unlike previous, bike-less visits to the Big Apple, I went from museums to hotels to restaurants to friends’ houses to concerts faster than I could with other transport, I had more fun along the way, and I felt invigorated all day long.
So keep biking to school, Emily. When you’re ready, visit someone in Glenwood or Aspen. Then one day perhaps, head for Denver and points beyond. Or pack your bike to use locally when you get to your destination. Bikes were invented to help people go places, and they continue serving that purpose in uniquely wonderful ways.
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