Bikes are better than cars. They are touted for their health benefits to both the individual and the planet, but those arguments are cliche and unheeded. Though more exist, I use two facets of bicycles to justify my riding and hope that you will too.
The first is that of scale. Simply put, bikes are on the human scale. Remind yourself that power lost to wind, which accounts for 90% of a vehicle’s mechanical effort, is related to a body’s frontal area and velocity-cubed. Bikes are on the order of the ideal size, in that making a bike smaller would have little effect on the frontal area of the rider-vehicle system.
The fact that bicycles rely only on the human power plant means that they provide incredible speed with the simplest infrastructure. Demanding more speed out of the system requires an additional power source and greater vehicle infrastructure. Because power is related to velocity-cubed, these increases in power plant scale occur at a drastic pace. Bicycles, mopeds, and motorcycles are each roughly separated by a factor of 8 in mass and 2 in maximum speed. The human scale is fixed. It seems sensible to design systems which mimic that scale.
However, to say that a bike’s advantages are purely numerical sells it far short. The bicycle is an embodiment of freedom from the restrictions of a regimented society. At the surface level, bicycles are less bound to the rules of the road. Traffic laws for cyclists are enforced not with badges and flashing lights but by the yearning for self-preservation. This fact reframes laws not as oppressive but as enabling.
I’m not implying that bikes are at all times practical, but we need to s