N + 1

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Have you heard the phrase “N + 1”? Many of us who are obsessed with bicycling tend to live by it.

If you haven’t heard it, this is the formula to determine how many bicycles you need to own. “N” is the number of bikes you currently own. “+ 1” basically means that you always need one more bike.

I have tried my best to live by this formula over the years, but at a certain point I decided this formula needed to evolve for the greater good.

For all of us who are already riding, “N + 1” would be better applied to how many people we need riding bicycles.

Here’s how this recalculation might improve things for everyone:

For those of us who currently ride bicycles, one more rider would mean broader support for creation and maintenance of bike lanes, paths, and trails. Also, more people riding bicycles means less cars and a greater likelihood that those people who are driving also ride a bicycle on occasion, making road conditions safer for everyone.

For the racers out there, you would see greater demand for racing. More races, bigger and better sponsors, improved permitting, higher attendance by racers and spectators, and greater economic impact (which most communities love).

For bike shops, more people on bicycle means more people buying bicycles, clothing, gear, and everything else that comes along with riding. Rather than marketing for a piece of the pie, make the pie bigger.

For people who breathe air, the bicycle is the ultimate single occupancy vehicle. A large percentage of air pollution is comprised of emissions from motor vehicles. One more bicycle is one less car.

For people who only drive, more people on bicycle means less traffic. And if people on bicycle have their own lane, there is less likelihood they will slow you down.

For those who just want to get healthy, integrating bicycling into your daily life can help people manage weight, improve chronic health conditions, and reduce the overall cost of healthcare.

My interest is both philanthropic and self-serving. By investing a small amount of effort in helping another person to ride, I hope their life will be better. At the same time, I want more and better maintained trails, lanes, and paths. I want the roads to be safer and the air to be cleaner. By getting more people riding, the odds are better that I can improve conditions for my own riding

For me, getting more people riding is reason to celebrate (probably with a new bike).

Bike Utah