Quotes: Benefits of Biking to Work

“I have also discovered that biking is suitable for my line of work, teaching and writing philosophy. Riding the bike in the morning often helps me to clarify and simplify my thoughts; the small stuff and petty worries drop out somewhere along the way. I have come to appreciate Nietzsche’s advice: “give no credence to any thought that was not born outdoors while one moved about freely–in which the muscles are not celebrating a feast to”. I almost always arrive at work a more clear-headed, not to see a braver-minded man after riding my bike in the morning. On the way home I’m able to relax and unwind if my day has been a stressful one. But what I have come to like most about commuting by bike, along with the resourcefulness it brings, is simply the time that gives you to spend outdoors,  facing the elements. I had all but forgotten how much time I spent outdoors as a boy and how slowly and almost imperceptibly I was changing into an indoor creature, a sedentary man, furniture of a sort. I have at long last restarted my one-sided conversation with the stars and the ocean, and I have come to recognise again that I share this earth, or my little stretch of it, with other living creatures, especially insects but also birds and an occasional seal that looks at me from a safe distance. It is silly to forget such things but one does; just as one forgets how changeable and multifarious the weather is. If the sedentary life makes you an absolutist or a dogmatist, biking turns you into a pragmatist, that at any rate has been my experience.”

Quoted from Robert H Haraldsson, ‘Philosophical Lessons from Cycling in Town and Country’.  Chapter 11 in Cycling: Philosophy for everyone (2010) edited by Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza and Michael Austin, Chichester Wiley-Blackwell.

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