Home Cycling Articles (98) European Cycling 53 Bicycle-Related Quotations
  
 
 
 
Site Menu
Home
About Us
MagBazPictures
What is New in 2018
What was New in 2017
Countries Articles (879)
Current Travel Log
Cycling Articles (98)
Fellow Travellers (78)
Logs & Newsletters (169)
Looking Out
Motorhome Insurers (33)
Motorhoming Articles (120)
Photographs
Ramblings (48)
Readers' Comments (770)
Travellers' Websites (45)
Useful Links (64)
Search the Website
Contact Us

Photos
53 Bicycle-Related Quotations PDF Printable Version E-mail

 
53 Bicycle-Related Quotations

March 2015 

We have selected 53 bicycle-related quotes from the 86 collected by bicycle historian Carlton Reid for his proposed book 'BikeBoom': http://www.bikeboom.info/

At the time of writing, Carlton is still seeking funding for the book, which will record the vast increase in cycling in the developed world since the nadir of the 1970's. He writes:

'Use of bicycles in America and Britain fell off a cliff in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to the rapid rise in car ownership. Urban planners and politicians predicted that cycling would soon wither to nothing, and they did their level best to bring about this extinction by catering only for motorists. And then something strange happened – bicycling bounced back, first in America and then in Britain. Today's global bicycling boom – even the one in the Netherlands – has its roots in the early 1970s.'

Carlton is the author of the recently published 'Roads Were Not Built For Cars', available in every format: hardback, softback, Kindle, iPad, App, etc. See: http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/

Attached is a selection from Carlton's widely-sourced list of bicycle-related quotations. They range from Boris Johnson to Jean-Paul Sartre and from Iris Murdoch to Michelle Pfeiffer. Choose your personal favourite!

We start here with one he doesn't give but nevertheless has long been the theme of our website:

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving (Albert Einstein)

Here are the other 53 quotations:

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle, Scientific American, 1896

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” John F. Kennedy

 “[Commuting by bicycle is] an absolutely essential part of my day. It's mind-clearing, invigorating. I get to go out and pedal through the countryside in the early morning hours, and see life come back and rejuvenate every day as the sun is coming out.” James L. Jones, former US Supreme Allied Commander Europe

“Cycling is possibly the greatest and most pleasurable form of transport ever invented. It's like walking only with one-tenth of the effort. Ride through a city and you can understand its geography in a way that no motorist, contained by one-way signs and traffic jams, will ever be able to. You can whiz from one side to the other in minutes. You can overtake £250,000 sports cars that are going nowhere fast. You can park pretty much anywhere. It truly is one of the greatest feelings of freedom once can have in a metropolitan environment. It's amazing you can feel this free in a modern city.” Daniel Pemberton, 'The Book of Idle Pleasures'

“Meet the future; the future mode of transportation for this weary Western world. Now I'm not gonna make a lot of extravagant claims for this little machine. Sure, it'll change your whole life for the better, but that's all.” Bicycle Salesman in 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid', 1969

Ned Flanders: “You were bicycling two abreast?”
Homer Simpson: “I wish. We were bicycling to a lake.”
The Simpsons, 'Dangerous Curves' (Episode 2005), first broadcast, 10th November 2008

“An engineer designing from scratch could hardly concoct a better device to unclog modern roads – cheap, non-polluting, small and silent…” Rick Smith, International Herald Tribune, May 2006

“I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equalled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all learn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.” Frances E. Willard, 'How I Learned To Ride The Bicycle', 1895

“One of the most important days of my life, was when I learned to ride a bicycle.” Michael Palin

“There is something about the miscreant cyclist that seems to get people more exercised than they are about the misbehaving motorist … When people get into cars, their metal encasement turns them into robots in our minds, and we're grateful to them for any act of courtesy. We're grateful that they don't deliberately kill children, then laugh a rasping, metallic laugh … [Cyclists] are more civic-minded than anyone else travelling in any other manner, bar by foot. If they do run into someone, they at least (like the bee) do their victim the favour of hurting themselves in the process, which is why, if you had any sense, you'd save your hatred for the motorist, who (like the wasp) injures without care.” Zoe Williams, The Guardian, 4th February 2006

“The cyclist is a man half made of flesh and half of steel that only our century of science and iron could have spawned.” 19th-century author Louis Baudry de Saunier

“[On] Valentine's Day, I'll present my beloved with a shiny bauble I bought from our favorite store. Next I'll take my honey out for a sunset cruise, maybe to the spot where we first got acquainted. Later, back home, I'll give my baby a bath. Then I'll gently dry my sweetie and turn out the lights…I'm talking, of course, about my bike…I humbly submit that my bike and I make a better team than most relationships I've seen…Your bicycle invigorates you, strengthens you, relaxes you, lets you vent your frustrations without interrupting, nodding off or making judgments. Your bicycle helps you meet other people. Your bicycle always goes where you want to go. And if you buy your bicycle a box of chocolates for Valentine's Day, you get to eat them all.” Scott Martin, roadbikerider.com

“To possess a bicycle is to be able first to look at it, then to touch it. But touching is revealing as insufficient; what is necessary is to be able to get on the bicycle and take a ride. But this gratuitous ride is likewise insufficient; it would be necessary to use the bicycle to go on some errands…Finally, as one could foresee, handing over a bank note is enough to make a bicycle belong to me, but my entire life is needed to realize this possession.” Jean-Paul Sartre, 'Being and Nothingness: an Essay on Phenomenological Ontology'

“Few articles ever used by man have created so great a revolution in social conditions as the bicycle.” US Census Report, 1900

“Bicycling…is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds. The airplane simply carries a man on its back like an obedient Pegasus; it gives him no wings of his own. There are movements on a bicycle corresponding to almost all the variations in the flight of the larger birds. Plunging free downhill is like a hawk stooping. On the level stretches you may pedal with a steady rhythm like a heron flapping; or you may, like an accipitrine hawk, alternate rapid pedaling with gliding. If you want to test the force and direction of the wind, there is no better way than to circle, banked inward, like a turkey vulture. When you have the wind against you, headway is best made by yawing or wavering, like a crow flying upwind. I have climbed a steep hill by circling or spiraling, rising each time on the upturn with the momentum of the downturn, like any soaring bird. I have shot in and out of stalled traffic like a goshawk through the woods.” Birdwatching Author Louis J Halle 'Spring in Washington', 1947/1957

“I'll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.” Susan B. Anthony, 1896

 “Bicycles are the indicator species of a community, like shellfish in a bay.” P. Martin Scott

“The more I've been mountain biking, the more I see myself as a female. In letting your femininity go to become a mountain biker, you actually find it more.” Niki Gudex, 'FHM Magazine', February 2005

“To me the bicycle is in many ways a more satisfactory invention than the automobile. It is consonant with the independence of man because it works under his own power entirely. There is no combustion of some petroleum product..to set the pedals going. Purely mechanical instruments like watches and bicycles are to be preferred to engines that depend on the purchase of power from foreign sources….The price of power is enslavement.” Birdwatching author Louis J Halle 'Spring in Washington', 1947/1957

“There may be a better land where bicycle saddles are made of rainbow, stuffed with cloud; in this world the simplest thing is to get used to something hard.” Jerome K. Jerome, 'Three Men on the Bummel', 1900

“The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.” Iris Murdoch, 'The Red and the Green'

“The bicycle was a perfect way of getting a lot of fresh air. We noticed that it was an anti-stress sport because it concentrated totally on the bicycle. When you ride a bicycle, you don't think about the new album, about how we are going to launch it. We realised that during three or four hours on the bicycle, we were discussing things like, 'Oh, you have new brakes', 'Oh, where did you get your handlebars?', 'Is the saddle well adjusted?', or 'What about the pedals?' - things that were only connected with cycling.” Maxime Schmitt, Kraftwerk friend and collaborator, 'Kraftwerk: Man, Machine, Music' (SAF Publishing, 2001)

“Such historians as record the tides of social manners and morals, have neglected the bicycle. Yet would it be difficult to deny that [the bicycle] has been responsible for more movement in manners and morals than anything since Charles the Second. Under its influence, wholly or in part, have wilted chaperons, long and narrow skirts, tight corsets, hair that would come down, black stockings, thick ankles, large hats, prudery and fear of the dark; under its influence, wholly or in part, have bloomed week-ends, strong nerves, strong legs, strong language, knickers, knowledge of make and shape, knowledge of woods and pastures, equality of sex, good digestion and professional occupation.” John Galsworthy, author of 'The Forsyte Saga'

“Government must help to eliminate cars so that bicycles can help to eliminate government.” Anarchist slogan from the Netherlands, 1970s.

“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.” Elizabeth West, 'Hovel in the Hills'

“The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.” John Howard

“Ordinary things merely annoy people. Inspired hatred is one more bit of evidence that bicycles are something great, something beyond the mundane – something worthy of grand animosity.” Bill Strickland, 'The Quotable Cyclist'.

“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.” Emo Philips

“A bicycle does get you there and more And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive. Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal. And getting there is all the fun.” Bill Emerson

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” H.G. Wells

“The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.” Ann Strong, Minneapolis Tribune, 1895

“I took care of my wheel as one would look after a Rolls Royce. If it needed repairs I always brought it to the same shop on Myrtle Avenue run by a negro named Ed Perry. He handled the bike with kid gloves, you might say. He would always see to it that neither front nor back wheel wobbled. Often he would do a job for me without pay, because, as he put it, he never saw a man so in love with his bike as I was.” Henry Miller, 'My Bike and Other Friends'

“I won't pretend I've read much Heidegger (or any, in fact), but I'd like to think Martin had just spent a happy half-hour in Freiburg's bike shop when he was struck by “the thinginess of things”. There it is, a cornucopia of exquisitely machined alloys, lustrous carbon-fibre frames, and innumerable form-fitting garments in hi-tech fabrics. Things don't much thingier than this.” Matt Seaton, The Guardian, September 14th 2005

“The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.” Sloan Wilson

“The bicycle is already a musical instrument on its own. The noise of the bicycle chain, the pedal and gear mechanism, for example, the breathing of the cyclist, we have incorporated all this in the Kraftwerk sound…When your bike functions best, you don't hear it – it's silent, there's no cracking, just shhhh – you're gliding. It's the same when you're in good shape and you're in form and you're riding your bike, you hear nothing – maybe just a little bit of breath.” Maxime Schmitt, Kraftwerk friend and collaborator, 'Kraftwerk: Man, Machine, Music' (SAF Publishing, 2001)

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” Ernest Hemingway

“When Cameron's Conservatives come to power it will be a golden age for cyclists and an Elysium of cycle lanes, bike racks, and sharia law for bike thieves. And I hope that cycling in London will become almost Chinese in its ubiquity.” Boris Johnson, The Guardian, March 18, 2006

“[A bicycle is] an unparalleled merger of a toy, a utilitarian vehicle, and sporting equipment. The bicycle can be used in so many ways, and approaches perfection in each use. For instance, the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon. A person pedalling a bike uses energy more efficiently than a gazelle or an eagle. And a triangle-framed bicycles can easily carry ten times its own weight – a capacity no automobile, airplane or bridge can match.” Bill Strickland

“The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind.” William Saroyan, 'The Noiseless Tenor'

“I live and breathe bike transportation. Does that make me a granola-crunching, world-saving utopian? Actually, my riding has a lot to do with what's good for me. Riding makes me healthy. It saves me time. It makes me feel good and gives me energy to do more in life. Of course, getting around by bike is a green thing to do. And altruism does have its rewards. Frankly, I wouldn't mind saving the world. Makes one want to crunch some granola.” US bike builder Joe Breeze, VeloNews, 2005

“I'm a cyclist not simply in the sense that I ride a bike, but in the sense that some people are socialists or Christian fundamentalists or ethical realists – that is, cycling is my ideology, a system of thought based on purity and economy of motion, kindness to the environment and drop handlebars, and I want to convert others.” Journalist Robert Hanks, The Independent, 15th August 2005

“A bicycle is a bit like a guitar in that they are both inert objects that only come alive and flourish when put in contact with a human being. Both have the ability to concentrate the mind. Just as when you are performing, you tend to lose yourself when you are on the bike. For those precious hours that you are in the saddle, nothing else matters except the bike and the road ahead.” Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp, The Ride Journal, issue 3, November 2009

“I relax by taking my bicycle apart and putting it back together again.” Michelle Pfeiffer

“People like to travel: that is why the grass is greener over the fence. We are walkers – our natural means of travel is to put one foot in front of the other. The bicycle seduces our basic nature by making walking exciting. It lets us take 10-foot strides at 160 paces a minute. That's 20 miles an hour, instead of 4 or 5… It is not only how fast you go – cars are faster and jet planes faster still. But jet-plane travel is frustrating boredom – at least the car gives the pictorial illusion of travel. Cycling does it all – you have the complete satisfaction of arriving because your mind has chosen the path and steered you over it; your eyes have seen it; your muscles have felt it; your breathing, circulatory and digestive systems have all done their natural functions better than ever, and every part of your being knows you have traveled and arrived.” John Forester, 'Effective Cycling'

“Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.” Lord Charles Beresford

“[Cycling] is easily the quickest way around central London, faster than bus, Tube or taxi. You can predict precisely how long every journey will take, regardless of traffic jams, Tube strikes or leaves on the line. It provides excellent exercise. It does not pollute the atmosphere. It does not clog up the streets.” Newscaster Jeremy Paxman

“My whole day is built around meetings that can be achieved around bike rides. My contract actually offers me a free car from my home to my office and back, but I suppose I am addicted to cycling.” Newscaster Jon Snow

“In the context of the great debates about identity politics – are you gay or straight, nationalist or republican, British or English and so on – I would ask, “Do you ride a bike?” I love everything about the machine – the sensation of the tyres on the road, the mobility – and I love the fact that you have this intimate relationship with the elements, and the landscape.” Beatrix Campbell

“Cyclists…are the gods of the road.” Actor, Nigel Havers, The Daily Mail, 13th June 2006

Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.” H.G. Wells

Zen proverb:

“A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”

The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!” The teacher praised the first student. “You are a smart boy! When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over like I do.”

The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path!” The teacher commended the second student, “Your eyes are open, and you see the world.”

The third student replied, “When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant nam myoho renge kyo.” The teacher gave his praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”

The fourth student replied, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all sentient beings.” The teacher was pleased and said to the fourth student, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”

The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.” The teacher sat at the feet of the fifth student and said, “I am your student.”

Ivan Illich, 'Toward a History of Needs', 1978:

“Man on a bicycle can go three or four times faster than the pedestrian, but uses five times less energy in the process. He carries one gram of his weight over a kilometer of flat road at an expense of only 0.15 calories. The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well.

“Bicycles are not only thermodynamically efficient, they are also cheap. The cost of public utilities needed to facilitate bicycle traffic versus the price of an infrastructure tailored to high speeds is proportionately even less than the price differential of the vehicles used in the two systems. In the bicycle system, engineered roads are necessary only at certain points of dense traffic, and people who live far from the surfaced path are not thereby automatically isolated as they would be if they depended on cars or trains. The bicycle has extended man's radius without shunting him onto roads he cannot walk. Where he cannot ride his bike, he can usually push it.

“The bicycle also uses little space. Eighteen bikes can be parked in the place of one car, thirty of them can move along in the space devoured by a single automobile. It takes three lanes of a given size to move 40,000 people across a bridge in one hour by using automated trains, four to move them on buses, twelve to move them in their cars, and only two lanes for them to pedal across on bicycles. Of all these vehicles, only the bicycle really allows people to go from door to door without walking. The cyclist can reach new destinations of his choice without his tool creating new locations from which he is barred.

“Bicycles let people move with greater speed without taking up significant amounts of scarce space, energy, or time. They can spend fewer hours on each mile and still travel more miles in a year. They can get the benefit of technological breakthroughs without putting undue claims on the schedules, energy, or space of others. They become masters of their own movements without blocking those of their fellows. Their new tool creates only those demands which it can also satisfy. Every increase in motorized speed creates new demands on space and time. The use of the bicycle is self-limiting. It allows people to create a new relationship between their life-space and their life-time, between their territory and the pulse of their being, without destroying their inherited balance. The advantages of modern self-powered traffic are obvious, and ignored.”