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Biking in Tandem Saves a Marriage

by Joshua Liberles on August 10, 2008

Tandem Biking in Tandem Saves a Marriage
The simple machine known as the bicycle remains the most efficient form of transportation on the planet. Although people may congregate into groups and ride together in makeshift pelotons, there is something inherently individual about biking. Riders rely on their own power for propulsion and are rewarded with independence, freedom, and all the sights, sounds, and smells of their surroundings that they miss when encased in their cars.

Sometimes you want to share your cycling experience with a friend or loved one – not always an easy task. Different levels of fitness or comfort with speed can quickly turn a for-fun excursion into a bickering hell – especially when married partners are involved.

Jennifer Schwartz recently wrote about her parents’ experience for the Boston Globe magazine. After failed attempts at riding together, they found a solution to this age-old problem: The tandem bicycle. The bicycle-built-for-two ensures that the two riders remain together, for better or worse.

From the Globe:

I joined them on my bike for one of their first tandem rides. At stoplights, they were horrendous: He’d lean to one side, she to the other. He’d stand up to stretch without warning; she’d buckle her knees. They’d clip out opposite feet and knock themselves off balance. Yelling and frustration (and eye rolling on my part) ensued. But soon, sharing a cadence, communicating the next move, and working as a single entity turned them into a machine that could beat me in any sprint. They assigned tasks (she’d signal, he’d steer), learned bike jargon ("Car back!"), and developed a method, however boilerplate, to take off when a light turned green ("One, two, three, go!").

It is no exaggeration that in the four years since the purchase of that bike, my parents’ life has changed. They finally share an equally enjoyed hobby. My mom is in better shape, and my dad is less competitive. They have a whole new set of "tandem friends" with whom they ride and go out to dinner. In September, they’ll take the tandem to Italy. I rarely see my parents happier than when they’re on that bike. The jabs and jokes are still around, but now the effect is far more endearing.

Photo via flick by sfbike

Related posts:

  1. Calfee’s Bamboo Tandem Bikes: Green and Social
  2. Boston Mayor Boosts Biking
  3. Green Streets’ Monthly Transportation Party
  4. Biking Through Winter
  5. For Car-Free Family, Biking Replaces Bad Habits
  6. Recent Posts

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Allison D January 18, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Does anyone know how to get a copy of this poster? I’d LOVE to hang it in my office. And perhaps we can mail a copy to the police Chief here in Tucson. ;D


2 Ben January 19, 2008 at 2:25 pm

More people need to be aware of this reality! Think of how cities would change if personal vehicles weren’t allowed in. This poster is great, it doesn’t even need a caption to convey its message.


3 T January 20, 2008 at 8:07 am

Wow. This really puts things in perspective. I’m glad one of my resolutions was to take more public transit.


4 Peter January 20, 2008 at 5:20 pm

I would like to order a poster to :-)
Or can someone find a better quality of the picture above ?



5 nicster January 20, 2008 at 5:47 pm

The Portland Bicycle Transportation Alliance did a similar poster several years ago. It’s available at: http://www.bta4bikes.org/gear/poster.php .


6 Mark R. January 21, 2008 at 11:02 pm

I’ll make the same comment here I made on Ecogeek.org.

While that is a neat picture re the cars/bus triptych. It is CRAP, and I’ll start my rant now. I love how they cropped the image with the cars to make it look like there wasn’t enough room on the street to hold all the cars. BOGUS! LOOK CLOSE. It makes the “green” minded people look bad with this type of bogus trickery. Same kind of thing the “green” would hammer Bush on. So let me hammer away. BOGUS BOGUS BOGUS. There is at least 50 yards x 25 yards of street missing at the top of the picture with the cars you could probably fit another 20-30 cars on the street behind where the image is cut off. The image is bogus, then if you look again you can count the arches on the first floor and you will see there are 5 arches missing to the bottom left of the car photo. Which means if you overlaid the 2 images the back bumper of the bus is about even with the front bumper of the first row of cars. so your looking at about another 8 cars that will fit on that stretch of road. Bogus misleading crap advertising!!!!!

Just calling it like it is, I’ve ranted now I feel better smilies/grin.gif

PS I agree with getting the cars off the road and walking or riding a bike, and buses. but lets all vote for TRUTH IN ADVERTISING. Not misleading people with feel good LIES.


7 Gloria January 26, 2008 at 2:07 am

These pics are not meant to show how many cars can fit on the street but how much space is saved not using cars. I looked at the cropping you pointed it out but it doesn’t make a difference how or if they cropped it. To prove my point…park your car inside your living room and stand beside it. Now get rid of your car and stand in your living room. Notice the difference in space? Common sense would tell you a lot of space is saved without cars, picture or no picture. Could they have messed with it and cropped it to make the scenerio look worse….Sure! Some people will go to the extreme to prove a point. Or maybe they just had a bad photographer that couldn’t take the picture at the same spot….but neither of these possibilities changes the fact that a car takes up space. Now add all the cars up together….see what I mean?


8 Tim June 16, 2008 at 8:51 pm

I have to agree with Mark. They have deceptively cropped the car image to make it look like they take up more space than they do. The cars *do* take up more space than the bus/bikes and it would be amazing if cars were banned in city centres, but it’s pretty sad that they cheated to emphasize this.


9 Smither June 27, 2009 at 10:27 pm

“The simple machine known as the bicycle remains the most efficient form of transportation on the planet.”

Really? Are we talking about fuel consumption per mile? Because if we are then that is simply false. I believe the most efficient form of transportation would be some spacecraft such as the shuttle or one of the saturn rockets, which travel hundreds of thousands of miles a day. Also more fuel efficient than cycling would be planes, trains and buses. Even cars may qualify. They all use less fuel to take you further and faster. Their fuel also doesn’t take nearly so much processing as ours does, or require so many different chemicals in correct proportions.

I say this despite being a big fan of cycling. A couple of years ago I went on a cycling trip from the north of scotland to the south of england, so I’m reasonably knowledgeable about using a bike as a mode of transport. It’s just a shame for the first line to be untrue.


10 Admin June 28, 2009 at 4:44 am

I am curious as to where you are getting this idea from, as you have cited no sources. A while a good my friend crunched the numbers out to cyclists getting above 1000mpge: http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/equivalent-mpg-cycling-garage-feature-293.html

If you consider the cyclist as burning X many calories per mile or hour, you will find that cyclists use much less raw energy than do internal combustion engines. Gasoline has 36.6 kWh per US gallon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline#Energy_content). With the average commuter putting out something like 200 watts/hour (just guessing based on myself), you can see there is quite discrepancy there that cannot be made up for by inefficient food sources etc.


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