I wrote a long entry about Bicycling and Parkour on the WAPK forums. It can be found at: http://www.washingtonparkour.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1654
I've been struggling with alot of questions recently, trying to analyze my life and understand fully everything around me in the context of the human species, of evolution and the human race. Inevitably, Parkour came under my microscope.
Parkour is an art defined by its utility. We have had long discussion on this site and others about that. Our very own History Thread says: "This emphasis on the utility of Parkour is a common theme amongst the French traceurs."
Parkour roots are found in the Natural Method of George Hebert, whose motto was "Be strong to be useful." (Etre fort pour être utile). Raymond Belle, David's father, was himself a firefighter, as was David for a time. They found meaning from their training by helping others. Keep this in mind.
Without a doubt, the techniques and strength learned in Parkour are very useful, in any number of emergency situations. They can save your life, and the lives of others. However, I think it is fair to say that Parkour has little usefulness in the everyday activities of your average person. It may appear to some outsiders to be a selfish activity. We know that this is not true. But we can do better.
I believe every experienced traceur has a responsibility to others. We spend huge amounts of time and money training our bodies, and most of the time we do nothing with them for the good of other people. We develop out minds, breaking down traditional ways of thinking with our movement., but we don't apply ourselves to improve the quality of life. We have alot of power. The community of traceurs is growing exponentially right now, but there is little real good being done by the larger Parkour community.
Many people don't have the time and motivation to volunteer, organize, and otherwise change society. However, one thing we all do have, and in abundance, is physical fitness. This is a resource.
We should use it. Specifically, bicycles. By riding bicycles instead of hopping in the car, you:
1. Foster the traceur mentality. A big hill is a daunting obstacle, and topping out on it is one of the best feelings.
2. Get stronger.
3. Reduce dependance on fossil fuels. This is huge.
4. Fatten your wallet. 3/4 of car trips are less than 5 miles. Operating a car for one year costs, on average, $5000 (AAA). One year of bike maintenance costs an average of $120!
5. Reduce your environmental impact. This is fundamentally aligned with the Parkour mentality of helping others! Cars account for nearly 80 percent of carbon monoxide and 50 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in the U.S. Air pollution contributes to the deaths of 60,000 people nationwide. In urban areas with poor air quality, asthma is becoming a more significant health concern. (Harvard University School of Public Health).
6. Reduce traffic jams and parking troubles! No more scrounging for quarters or sitting on I-5!
7. Get some fresh air! Cyclists breathe in less gross, sooty, carcinogenic exhaust then the people in the cars! (source: Rank J, Folke J, Jespersen PH. Differences in cyclists and car drivers exposure to air pollution from traffic in the city of Copenhagen. Sci Total Environ 2001; 279: 131-6.)
8. Reduce noise pollution. Cycles are quiet and pedestrian friendly.
9. Change your mentality, foster a positive attitude. Bicycling allows you much more freedom that cars. In urban environments, short trips are probably faster by bike than they are by car! Being on a bike puts you in touch with your environment and makes you use all your senses. You have to be completely aware of your surrounding on a bike. Sound familiar?
10. Cycling is fun!
Bicycling is a method of transportation that is, in my opinion, perfectly suited to the traceur. Try it!