Bicycling empowers us to use our bodies in the environment to serve our well being and meet practical needs. Through bicycling we learn about the interdependence of social and natural systems, and we create virtuous cycles between people and nature within those integrated systems. We do this by seeing biodiversity–the variety of life surrounding us–in greater detail and by developing appreciation for cultural ecosystem services, which are “non-material benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation, and aesthetic experiences” (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment).
We produce material benefits when we bicycle such as carbon reduction and maintaining the integrity of landscapes (by practicing quiet, clean, low impact transport) but we also build value with the kind of conversation we are making with the places we ride in. We receive inspiration, make social relations (bike culture), we experience beauty up close, enhance our sense of place, and build knowledge. We overlay the physical place with cognition and imagination, which helps us be creative and feel more at home. There are a broader range of reasons to bicycle than we have been promoting. The satisfaction bicycling delivers can be translated in economic success, since tourism is the world’s biggest business. By setting up our infrastructure and culture for bicycling, we get everything we want, everything we need.
Think ahead. Collaborate. Mobilize the change you want to see in the world. Enjoy the ride.
References: The ideas of cultural ecosystem services (CES) are explored in the journal Ecological Complexity in an article called Cultural ecosystem services in the context of offshore wind farming: A case study from the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein by Kira Gee, Benjamin Burkhard
published online 24 March 2010