There is a tendency in bike advocacy circles to ascribe all sorts of good deeds and good outcomes to bicycling. I worry about that sometimes. That rationale starts to make the bicycle sound like something that has to be experienced as penance or preventative: an aspirin, purgative, visit to the confessional, or "even more green than a Prius". Here is my response to National Bike Month.
A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students,
"Why are you riding your bicycles?"
The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!"
The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do."
The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path."
The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world."
The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo."
The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel."
The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings."
The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming."
The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle."
The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."
Some other good koans and stories here: