I took my first bike ride through the city in a while last night. I liked it so much, today I biked up to Fishtown to visit a friend’s studio.

There is absolutely nothing like riding a bike through a busy city. I love it.

There’s something about the type of awareness you need to have when you’re on a bicycle. You need to be aware of everything, from potholes to the width of an opening to traffic and people.

The residual awareness from paying this much attention makes everything else shimmer.

Driving is very (frighteningly) easy to do without being aware of much of anything. Just autopilot.

With walking, you have the opportunity to be deeply aware of the world around you in an intimate way, but you don’t have to do it.

The bicycle forces you to pay attention.

Because you’re moving so fast, you get to see so much in such vividness, but always moving on to the next place. Even the smells are plentiful but momentary.

There are many other reasons that bicycles are amazing, but this type of awareness may be the bicycle’s greatest feature.

Philadelphia, just about every part of it, is so flavorful. So much character and soul in every neighborhood, and you really get a sense of it when you bicycle through town.

It helps a lot that most of the town is flat and they’ve done an excellent job adding bike lanes all around town.

There’s always a little bit of danger, of course, but that’s most of what provides this awareness. That’s a big topic for another day.