Human sized tools – photo by Tammy Strobel Rowdykittens.com
I started bike commuting in graduate school because parking was complicated, stressful, and expensive. This was about the same time that my partner, Tammy, and I began to seriously consider simplifying our lives. We hadn’t discovered tiny houses yet but the simplicity of cycling appealed to us. By riding my bike I saved money, I grew more relaxed, and I felt healthier. Tammy was envious of my relaxed commute by bike. Her work commute was a stressful two hours by car. Looking back, I think cycling was our “gateway drug” to simpler living. Eventually, to pay off our debt and to pursue happiness, Tammy found a job she could walk to, we adapted to a smaller (400 sq ft) apartment, and we sold our remaining car.
Recently, I realized the reasoning behind our choice to use bicycles as transportation was similar to our choice to live in a tiny house for shelter. After getting into cycling and saving money we read the pivotal book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. This book prompted us to ask ourselves “how much is enough?”
. After answering this question, we started to understand that we didn’t need the all of the space in a big house just as we didn’t need the mechanical-power of an automobile for our lifestyle. We simply wanted to have enough time and money left over to contribute to our family, friends, and community. Working to pay a large mortgage and a car loan made us feel like we didn’t have enough left over for our relationships. With the money we saved by cycling we were able to pay off our debt and save up to buy a tiny house. Our tiny house and our bikes have similarly contributed to our goal of “having enough”. Below I’ve listed a few similarities that I’ve drawn between tiny houses and cycling:
- Inexpensive, fun to use, and environmentally friendly
- Human sized designs that are relatively small and simple to understand
- Opens you up to being more vulnerable and reliant on your community
- Requires spending more time outside and noticing the seasons
- Stimulates mindful awareness
- Requires outsourcing occasional big tasks
Biking in Shasta Valley – Photo by Tammy Strobel Rowdykittens.com
Cycling and tiny houses aren’t for everyone, nor are they a cure-all for affordable transportation and housing problems. Like climbing a ladder into a tiny house loft, one must be physically able to accomplish cycling. However, I believe bicycles are a part of the solution for “smart-sizing”. Most of my transportation needs require less than 10 miles of travel from my home. When I need to go farther to visit family, I rent a car or hop on the train. Cycling and tiny houses have been a wonderful choice for my partner and I. In reflection, adapting to life on a bicycle has gone hand-in-hand with downsizing and living the tiny house life.