One year ago, Jonnaliz embarked on a life changing journey towards greater happiness, health, and wealth. In her words, “I’m fighting for the life that I want and deserve.”
Part of this personal revolution involved selling her car and choosing to travel by walking, public transportation, and bicycle. Inspired by learning about other people’s experiences online, especially You Ain’t Got Jack, she invested in a fully loaded Yuba Mundo from Practical Cycle. A few weeks later she also bought a Breezer Downtown commuter bike. Her bikes now take up a good part of her living room!
A talented writer, Jonnaliz chronicles her everyday adventures on the brutally honest, inspiring, and always entertaining (often hilarious) website- ShesBlossoming.com. She was also kind enough to share the following article with us.
When people find out that I don’t own a car, I am asked a series of questions that lead to the inevitable: Are you poor? After explaining to them my intentions for going without a car, they then assume I am either crazy or that I am in fact poor but too ashamed to admit it.
People don’t like the fact that I can live happily without a vehicle. They often wonder how I willingly walk four miles home sometimes instead of taking the light rail or carry twenty pounds of groceries on my back. To them, the kind of life that I have is unfortunate. But to me, this is just the product of many small changes I made in my life over the span of a year. It just feels right.
When I decided to purchase a bike, I had no idea what I was getting into. At the age of thirteen, I learned how to ride. It took two weeks standing on my driveway and watching kids half my age riding by, pointing, and yelling, “You don’t know how to ride a bike?!” And soon after learning, the only thought that plagued my mind was that I was too embarrassed of going out and ride.
The same fear came back after purchasing my bike and riding on the trail with my friend. Pedestrians and bicyclists stared as I attempted to stop with my feet rather than the brakes. I spent that first hour making up for the last decade of my non-bicycle riding life. And after that, I slowly became more conscious of my movements.
After two days of riding, I left my bike alone for a week. I had always seen people commute to work, but I never considered that I would one day be that person. I started reading up on how to commute safely and finding different routes. I had no clue that once a bike lane was not present, I would have to take a lane. Nor did I know that all traffic rules that a car had still applied to me. My only problem was committing this advice to memory by actually taking it and riding. So one morning I woke up and looked outside my window. It was slightly overcast and as I showered, I thought, “Just do it. You’re not going to learn anything if you don’t do it.”
So I did. As I took my bike out, I fought the urge to just bring it back inside my apartment and take the light rail to work. I was far too terrified to even feel that I was terrified. And because of this, I felt this strange elation and freedom. I stalled at each light that turned green, feeling embarrassed and then laughing at myself. At one point, my shadow was right next to me, and I could see my legs going at this impossible speed I wasn’t sure I was capable of.
Beyond health, finances, and doing some small part to save the planet, I ride because it just feels right. Bicycling was a necessity that turned into an accidental passion. I still get nervous and have days where I don’t want to ride. I still stall at green lights. I still swerve. I still make mistakes and look like a fool attempting to find my way in this world. But when I’m on my bike, the only thing that matters are the road and how my body will take me there. And at times, this is a disadvantage. Some days, I can’t ride as my mind is a jumbled mess of deadlines and afterthoughts. But these are the times I need to ride the most. If I can give myself an hour out of the day where nothing else exists but me and the road, I think that’s the best form of cost effective therapy. If I can’t have an hour for me, then I can’t possible give time to anything else.
I still have days where I miss owning a car. I miss the convenience of mindlessly waiting in traffic and getting to places with ease. I sometimes stare at people with envy while they sit in their cushy cars with air conditioning and a windshield that protects them from bugs entering their mouth. But I sometimes see them staring at me, and I can’t help but imagine that they feel the same about me. Look at that chick power her whole life with her legs and take on the world one pedal at a time.