If you google Free Rider you’ll find some stuff about economics. It’s a term that’s used to explain why humans get together and pool their money to pay for things like roads, hospitals and schools. Free riders are supposed to be bad.
But we should all be free riders? Free to do whatever we like provided it doesn’t hurt anyone else and we all chip in to help.
There’s lots of laws that stop us doing things that would hurt others. That’s a good thing.
But there’s lots of things we don’t do because we’re scared what others might think of us. That’s a bad thing.
We should be free of the burden of social judgement. It holds so many people back from joy and achievement.
So what’s all this got to do with bike riding. Well for years bike riders were seen as outliers. Judged as weirdos for pedalling away while others sat comfortably in their cars listening to fingers down the chaulk board radio ads for cheap wall and floor tiles.
But bike riding is the ultimate expression of freedom. It’s saying to the world, ‘I can get around anyway I want, without a timetable, without fossil fuel and while I’m doing this I’m going to get healthier. I don’t care what you think of me or what you say about me.’
Imagine if bike riders lead the way. If we bucked the trend and stopped judging others. Like the rest of the world bike riders judge others quickly and harshly. Then when others don’t join us on two wheels we wonder why.
These days there’s lots of effort put into helping people become resilient so they can cope with the pain of being judged. Nothing wrong with that. Except that if we weren’t judged in the first place it wouldn’t be necessary.
So The Free Rider is about saying: let’s leave the judging to the courts when we’ve done something really bad.
The rest of the time, ride free.