USA: The Amish

The humble bicycle fits perfectly into the Amish way of life

The sound of a one-horse buggy passing by at a canter quietens the atmosphere. There is no engine noise, no horn or blaring radio, just the natural rhythm of an animal working for its keep. It is the sound of simplicity and modesty — it is the sound of the Amish lifestyle.

The Amish are a religious farming sect, started in 1693 in Switzerland by Jacob Ammann. The group now lives mainly in North America, particularly in Indiana and Pennsylvania. They regard all their possessions and property as having religious significance, and have little regard for labour-saving devices. A tool that inspires patience is more highly valued than one which will get the job done faster.

You may see an Amish person in a car, but it won't be his or her car. They choose not to own cars — ownership implies a duty to use for spiritual growth, and they decide that they cannot do that with cars. Instead they use their bicycles and their buggies for the majority of their transport needs.

The humble bicycle fits perfectly into the Amish way of life. Men, women, children and babies are all equally represented aboard the quiet wheel. Their bicycles are not of the fad-driven world of carbon fibre and titanium, of full-suspension or road racing. Instead they are simple, utilitarian machines — locally built and locally maintained — ridden calmly by people going about their daily tasks, with no thought of cycle advocacy. Many roads around Amish communities are built with lanes just for buggies and bicycles, making cycling a pleasure.

Amish traditions make a virtue of being humble and ordinary. Tell an Amish man that his bicycle is the finest around and he'd probably argue with you!

Thanks Brandon for allowing us to use the above image