It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood … and I need to buy toilet paper. To drive, or not to drive? That is the question!
With a great cargo-capable eBike at my beck and call - a Trek Verve+ to be specific - I decided not only would pedaling through my humble hamlet to get my “humble item” be more enjoyable, but I realized that failing to convince myself that firing up a 3,000 lb hunk of metal and plastic to go around the corner for a 12 pack of TP was becoming an easier and easier habit. Mundane errands made into fun, remember that? It’s still possible.
I have been an avid commute biker for most of my life yet I still feel that I work hard to incorporate biking for fun, errands, and commuting. Sometimes I feel lazy, but I still try to remind myself (OK, nudge myself!) to make a habit of grabbing my helmet before grabbing my car keys.
For many folks, biking can be an excellent alternative to driving for daily tasks; all it takes is a few changes of thinking to make it happen - but you can’t do it all at once.
That’s why I’m breaking it down into bite size chunks you can take one at a time:
- Buy a bike! You have so many choices now; cruisers, eBikes, road bikes, cross country. Visit your local bike shop to get expert ideas and information on what bike is right for you. While you’re at it, get bikes for the whole family for excursions as a crew while motivating each other to ride. Definitely check out Sunshine Bicycle Center for all your bike needs.
- If you haven’t been on a bike for a while and feel rusty, don’t worry, it’s just like “riding a bike”, to coin a phrase. Take your time, get used to your bike and follow safety regulations.
- Have a helmet, locks, pump, and other accessories within easy access for “get up and go” moments. Having these always on or near the bike in a pannier or basket or dedicated shelf helps, as you don’t need to search for everything each time (again, think of how you have your car set up - much of the stuff you need is already inside).
- Before leaving, pause to consider if you can make this trip using a bike. I bet you can! Begin to shift your mind with just a few moments of conscious thinking about your actions.
- Support your local bike advocates or city infrastructures that help create bike lanes and cater to bike safety. Contact town and county and regional officials, even if just to voice your support for steering money and efforts toward bike transit amenities. The easier and safer it is to ride, the more accessible biking can be.
- Tell other people about your experiences in biking for transport, and share tips and ideas for better biking. Inspire people on how fun biking can be.
- Keep your bike in shape. A yearly tuneup and occasional cleaning can help keep your bike going for years. Keep tires inflated properly and make sure brakes work well. Ask the bike shop or a handy mechanical bike friend to show you how to do these things, and ask them to point out the little things to keep an eye on as you go about your riding.
- Explore local maps for bike paths, trails, and roads. (Sunshine sells the bike-specific MCBC map!). Ask others who ride a bit more than you for tips and tricks on weaving together routes from point A to point B. Use Google Maps bicycle route view for other ideas. Knowing ahead of time where and how to get places via bike will allow your world open up.
Bicycling is a great way to get around, as the physical exercise and endorphin rush one receives benefits the mind and the body, all while relieving stress. The slower pace of biking allows one to notice more of their surroundings, often seeing things they never noticed while in the speeding tin cans we call automobiles.
Taking on biking as a regular source of transportation can be super easy. All it takes is a shift of thinking; a shifting of gears, if you will, to understand what needs to change and that you do indeed have the power to change it.
I estimate that within a few weeks of using your bike instead of your car, you will begin to notice a decline in your visits to the gas station, and soon you will laugh as you peddle past those pumps. Get ready to feel better, save money and head out into your day in a sustainable and relaxed way.