I just traded in my old peugeot 205 for a bicycle one month ago.
It was somehow sad as I have literally spent thousands of hours inside of that car, about 2 hours in Madrid everyday and also during the holidays. It was my first and only one car for 14 years, a lot of memories!
I also had a bicycle in Madrid, I bought it to exercise but I used it 2 times in 4 years, not so many memories from that.
Then I moved from Madrid to Copenhagen, to start a new life. I did not know what to do with the car and the bicycle. I would not get that much money for any of them, so I decided to drive to Copenhagen and take the bicycle with me inside the car. The taxes for changing the plates are insane and I did not pretend to use the car in the “bicycle city”, so the plan was to get rid of the car once I hit Copenhagen. That would be its last trip.
So I did that, I drove for 3000 km in 12 days with all my stuff in my tiny car, jumping from country to country. I used the bicycle to move in every town I stopped by. It was great, the best way to get into towns from the nearby camp sites I used to sleep.
There is a gradient across Europe and you can feel it when you travel like this. The gradient also affects the way people move in a town, so I was feeling more and more comfortable riding the bicycle as I got into France, Belgium, Germany and finally Denmark.
Now I am in Copenhagen. I ride the “spanish bicycle”everyday to go to work, as I used to drive the car in Madrid. The car is eventually gone. I do not miss it. I feel happy that the bicycle is now alive, and takes me everywhere in a silent, fast and stressless way. I simply could not do that in Madrid. Few people bike to move in the town there, they are lucky persons that live quite close to work and they have a lot of problems with the bicycle anyway. The air is so polluted that you don’t want to breath too deep in the middle of the cars.
Now I have to cross the lakes in Copenhagen with the bicycle everyday. They are beautiful and the feeling is great. I often stop to spend a few minutes on my way back home, breathing the cold air, admiring the sight. I cannot do that with the car when I cross my favorite spot: heading Gran Vía from Cibeles at sunset. I cannot just stop at the side, open the windows to breathe and relax. Someone would honk and jell at me if I stop for more than a second.
The difference is simply this one: your way to work and back home can be a stressful waste of time that makes you be mad during the rest of the day, or can be one of the best moments everyday. It is a huge difference.