Yesterday, the SLOG posted an excellent piece from Jay Jansheski, "Some Things I have Seen While Riding a Bicycle in Seattle." Jansheski's illustrated list does an amazing job capturing some of the less obvious (and less self righteous) reasons bicycling is often so much better than driving or taking the bus. It's that connection to the natural world, the human interactions, and the sensory overload.
Bicycling past the Lake View cemetery Jansheski saw zombies and Tai-chi masters mid-commute. Riding down 10th gives him the Cascades on one side and the Olympics on the other, with the smells of fresh pizza as a bonus.
Some of my personal favorites include pedaling up the Elliot Bay trail seeing the Sound and the Olympics while smelling the salty breeze; feeling like a carefree kid as I fly down 2nd Ave towards SODO in the evening, catching all the green lights; riding on the I-90 trail and seeing pick-up soccer games at the park just east of 23rd Ave; having a conversation with a stranger sparked by the Boston-Montreal-Boston jersey I happened to be wearing as I cruised down the Burke Gilman. (He'd done the 1200km ride in the late '90s and wanted to know when I'd done it. I had to explain, with a little shame, that I'd gotten the jersey from a friend.)
Sure, you might see some of these things through the car window, talk to some of these people on the bus, but riding a bike connects you to your surroundings in a way driving or busing never will.