Although it stands to reason that a commuter should be mindful of the Way of the Commuter, it would seem that we are all negligent. Consequently, if someone were to ask, "What is the true meaning of the Way of the Commuter?" the person who would be able to answer promptly is rare. This is because it has not been established in one's mind beforehand. From this, one's unmindfulness of the Way can be known. Negligence is an extreme thing.
The Way of the Commuter is found in riding. When the question is whether to ride or not, the answer is always to ride. The Way of the Commuter places emphasis on many qualities, including loyalty, self-sacrifice, justice, sense of shame, refined manners, purity, modesty, frugality, commuting spirit, honor and affection.
Loyalty is a forgotten asset in this day and age, and society has come to regard sacred institutions as little more than folklore. Remaining loyal to the Way trains the mind and body. The commuter rides with a steely resolve, hardened by countless miles, and avoids the temptation of the combustion engine.
Self-sacrifice is an often-misunderstood character trait. Not intended to be a basis for self-righteousness or self-pity, self-sacrifice keeps the commuter humble and grateful. The commuter takes solace in knowing their sacrifice of temporary comfort and efficiency will be rewarded with strength, knowledge and a clean conscience.
Justice often appears to elude the commuter, as ignorant automobile operators cause havok on the world's roadways without repercussion. While it is tempting, and in rare cases necessary, to take charge of such matters, the Way teaches patience and resolve. When harassed, deny the offender the satisfaction of acknowledging their affront. When the situation merits confrontation, the wise commuter chooses thought and reason before U-lock.
A well-developed sense of shame is a useful tool for the commuter. While cycling to work affords the commuter a deserving sense of pride, a commuter who has succumbed to automotive temptation knows no pride that day.
Refined manners influence society's view of commuters as a whole. While the commuter cares not for the whims of the popular tastemakers, consideration for other users on the roadways inspires reciprocation. In simple terms, yield the right of way to faster moving vehicles whenever possible. While the Way allows for a certain degree of traffic law evasion, the sight of a commuter flagrantly ignoring the law of the road only serves to infuriate motorists.
Purity is an almost unattainable goal for commuters, as the inevitable weakness of the human body eventually hinders one's ability to ride-even if only temporarily. Still, the commuter must aspire to ride every day, only then can the commuter be prepared to ride as often as the body is able.
Modesty is a virtue, as no matter how many miles the commuter rides, there is always someone riding farther, longer, faster, higher, with more weight and in worse conditions than oneself. The commuter only needs to consider the saddle time of a stalwart bicycle messenger, who cannot rest during the day, to be once again humbled.
Frugality is an indispensable quality for the commuter, as all cycling equipment eventually fails and must be repaired or replaced. Thus, the question is often whether to buy new or upgrade the old. When it comes to expenditure, there is but one justification-if the purchase will cause one to ride more then the cost is justified.
The commuting spirit is kept alive by those who are faithful to the Way. While boasting is contrary to the commuter's ethos, an honest exaltation of the days ride among peers keeps the spirit alive.
There is no honor among thieves, but there is honor among bicycle commuters. Regardless of distance traveled, the commuter acknowledges their peer's perseverance and sacrifice.
Affection for fellow commuters is an important tactic in the battle for bicycle proliferation. A friendly nod or casual wave encourages a sense of community among cyclists, and could potentially initiate companionship, camaraderie or even friendly competition.
Ultimately, it is up to each and every commuter to follow in the Way, and to enlighten their fellow man. So go forth, brothers and sisters, and carry on in the Way of the Commuter.
This article originally appeared in Dirt Rag magazine