Two Wheels Are Better Than Four

Posted by Logan Harless


You can’t buy more time, but you can buy a bike. My own bike cost me $400, or exactly one month in McDermott stipend time.

It was the number one item on my shopping list when I arrived in Dallas, and remains (at least to me) my most valuable possession.

alps-2

As a freshman meeting hundreds of new people I have had to answer the question “where are you from” quite frequently. For me, however, the answer is not as simple as “Texas” or “California”. I came to Texas from the Netherlands, sometimes (incorrectly) called Holland, a country known for tulips, windmills, Amsterdam and, of course, bicycles.

I’ve always thought of myself as American, but after living abroad so long, I have discovered that a large portion of my culture comes from the Netherlands as well.

The Netherlands is the bike capital of the world, and the Dutch enthusiasm for human powered, two-wheeled transport has rubbed off on me too.

I love biking for too many reasons to name them all – the feeling of the wind on my face, the thrill of weaving through people and obstacles, and so much more. Some of my best memories have bikes in them, whether it’s my family’s week of biking through the Alps,  the times I’ve crashed with friends on my handlebars, or bittersweet memories of freezing trips home from soccer practice. I brought these nostalgic sentiments with me to UTD and have done my best to try to inspire the same appreciation for biking in others, with little success. Culturally, Texas is not the most bicycle friendly place in the world. After about three months of residency here, I have realized that – to Texans at least – an appeal to the joys of bike riding is not the most persuasive argument. I am always looking for someone to bike with, so I adopted a more analytic approach.

Bicycles are a college student’s best friend; they are cheap, save you time and get you exercise all at once.

To college students, whose schedules are consistently filled or overfilled, it is saving time that is perhaps the most powerful argument in favor of bike ownership. A walking trip from Residence Hall South (my current home), to the sports fields where I play Ultimate Frisbee twice a week takes about 10 minutes. I can cover the same distance on a bicycle in just over two. This same pattern is true for any place on or close to campus that I travel to frequently; biking is simply faster.

As a demonstration of just how far the merits of bicycle travel extend I challenged fellow 2016 Scholars Benny Rubanov and Samir Rahi to a race. We clashed in classic man vs. machine fashion; I rode my bike while Benny and Samir drove; each of us choosing whichever route we deemed fastest. The route began in the Residence Hall South lobby and ended at Torchy’s Tacos on West Campbell road (about 3 miles distance one-way).

Result: Logan arrives in 13 minutes, Samir and Benny in 16.

bike-path-utd
A bike path ending in the middle of nowhere in Richardson.

If you take my advice and bring a bike to campus here are a few things I’ve learned. In spite of broken air pumps, bike paths that end in the middle of nowhere, and occasional flash floods, Richardson and UTD are still, in comparison to most of Texas, an oasis for bike lovers. You will have to learn to dodge pedestrians who look at their phones and not where they are walking, hop curbs to avoid long boarders and keep a bike lock with you at all times, but these things are part of the fun. So for those of you who are convinced, prepare to be the envy of your roommates, who may or may not begrudge your extra 10 minutes of sleep every day, may or may not covet your savings in gas money but most definitely will be annoyed when you beat them to Torchy’s.

svalbard

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