This CarFreeBrad experiment turned lifestyle has been going for somewhere near 5 years and I’ve learned a lot during that time. Now that there’s been enough time, broken bikes, scrapes and experiences under my belt I’ve started to ask myself a compelling question.
Has a bike first lifestyle made me a better person?
When it comes to the important stuff involved in being a “good” person like kindness, compassion, honesty, humility and integrity. The simple answer is NO. I like to think I’m a good person overall with as many distinct personality flaws as the next guy. The quest to be a better person doesn’t have anything to do with how much or often I ride a bike or drive a car. To even start to speak on that requires a lot more than this blog can cover.
But Living this CarFreeBrad experiment has forced me to be better in many areas of my life that have only become apparent in the last year or so.
Time Management: Over these formative years of Freight Farms, getting my MBA and masters degrees, moving back to Boston and getting married there have been a growing number of demands on my time. Some of the greatest opportunities in my life have come from being patient and letting them develop over time and I try to look for the potential greater long game in every situation. The hardest part of this philosophy is these opportunities aren’t apparent at the onset and take time present themselves. Being tied to my bike first philosophy has required that I find a way to prioritize and place a clear value on my time in all that I do. It has inherently forced me to give serious thought to each meeting, cup of coffee and networking event that I attend. My commute time requires more planning(or layers) and forces me to account for all the “lost time” getting around. The ironic fact is that it often take me LESS time than others in cars and trains but it’s tremendous forcing function to keep me keenly aware of my time and prioritize accordingly.
Perspective: Being the most universally hated/misunderstood vehicle on the road forces me to evaluate my outlook on life at least twice a day. Riding the roads of a city with both cars and pedestrians forces intimate interactions with people at their best and worst. Inevitably, the road always finds a way to keep me feeling equally empowered and utterly powerless. I’m constantly reminded that my perspective can impact every ride and that I control the positive or negative outcome of each commute. I’m never more hated, yelled at and in physical danger than when I lose perspective and allow ego and emotion to cloud my attitude/behavior. This has forced me to spend at least 30 minutes a day living in the moment fully aware of everything from the cars, people, brakes, goggles and my emotions. No matter what’s happening in my life be it my wedding, customer meeting or a regular day in the office I must engage with my bike in order to have a fast, safe ride.
Simplicity: I spent the first year of my carfree life trying to carry on in all the same ways I did when I drove. That required a LOT of storage, racks, packing and planning. It wasn’t until the realized that I didn’t need all that extra “stuff” that I was able to embrace the bike first lifestyle. I’ve always been a “gear” guy and love to have all my special gadgets within reach just in case I need a hachet or a gopro camera at some random time. While both of these have come in very handy in the past, they have never been REQUIRED for everyday life.
I could go on an on with the various ways that this carfree experiment has made me a better person but I think these three have paid off the biggest for me to date and I would like to continue to improve on each one.