The Best Excuse for Not Bike Commuting

We spend a lot of time overcoming the excuses people come up with not to bike commute, or to not even give it a try.

Some people–adults–don’t know how to ride a bike. Never learned.

Adult Bike Class
Adult Bike Class | Photo: Bike New York

Who hasn’t heard the statistics on adult literacy. Something like 21 percent of American adults could look at this majestic prose that I write and have no appreciation of its sublime beauty. And because of the social stigma associated with illiteracy, people who can’t read find all kinds of ways to hide and mask this fact from their family and peers.

But there are able-bodied people out there who never learned to ride a bike.

Could this be the hidden shame behind all of the other excuses that we hear?

Bike Chalkboard
Art: Spencer Starr of Chalk Chalk | Photo: Sharon Montrose

I couldn’t find any statistics on this, but the nonprofit Bike New York is holding classes for adults who never learned, or have forgotten how to ride a bike.

I honestly never even considered that there might be enough un-biked adults out there to justify a bike class. Okay, maybe if you scoured the country you might be able to find a dozen and fly them to a bike reeducation camp just once and be done with it. But Bike New York has more than 20 classes scheduled throughout the summer. Each class can accommodate up to 30 students, and most of the classes are already booked full.

I know New York City is a big place with almost 19 million people. But I would not have guessed that there were enough adults in the city who never learned to ride a bike that 600 of them would take up the opportunity.

Think of what a small percentage those 600 must be of the total number of people in New York City who don’t know how to ride.

Smack me in the head. I’m wearing a helmet.

If you know someone who wants to learn to ride a bike, here’s a pep talk:

Sign up for our Adventure-Packed Newsletter

Get our latest touring, commuting and family cycling posts and sales delivered to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

6 thoughts on “The Best Excuse for Not Bike Commuting”

  1. Joe DeLory says:

    My Mom was one of those who never learned she was 89 when she passed in 2004. Neither her nor older sisters were allowed to learn to drive or ride a bike when they were growing up. One of my aunts did learn to ride as an adult (in her 50s) but she didn’t learn to drive until she beame a widow in hermid to late 70s she died at 94.
    My Mom was always an active vivacious woman when I was growing up (so was my dad). I wonder what other shared adventures we might have had had she been able to ride with us kids.

  2. Chuck says:

    My wife is such an adult. Her father is a retired medical doctor who spent most of his working life in neurosurgery and would not allow his children to ride bikes because of the ‘dangers’.

    I am a keen cyclist and our three children are all bike-enabled, so there is a growing groundswell of familial ‘peer-pressure’ to get the matriach on a bike…

  3. Reynor Padilla says:

    I bike commute to work almost every day yet my 11-year-old son has yet to learn to ride a bike.

    I’m a horrible father.

  4. Chrehn says:

    The exhilaration of the young person learning to ride a bicycle in that video really made my day. Thank you.

  5. Joe DeLory says:

    My kids were doing century rides at 10-11 years old. My son chose not to learn to drive until he was 29 years old. My daughter asked for a new racing bike as a high school graduation present. That is exactly what she got.

  6. Steve K. says:

    I recently started commuting to work by bike. I picked up some useful bike care tips from
    It’s already been 3 months. No more monthly metrocard expenses. I save the subway commute for a rainy day.

Leave a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


40% Off Croozer Trailers while supplies last Buy Now

Scroll to Top