Most of us use our car so much that going without it seems overwhelming. Because of this, we think it's a great idea to start small with a car-free day! Even if that is too much, try running an errand or two throughout the day on your bike instead of your car. Plus, if your commute to work and back isn't too far, you can ride your bike to work, or use a combination of bike and bus to make your daily commute less costly, and better for you and your environment. Today, we are challenging you to spend a day car-free, and ride your bike!
While it's easier to say things than to actually do them, riding your bike for a day is one of the easiest and funnest things you'll ever decide to do. However, making the switch from driving a car everywhere to riding a bike comes with some big responsibilities. We'll go over some of those responsibilities, and encourage you do do your own research to make bicycling a part of you're every-day life!
While every locality is different, there is always a way to get around. Whether it be a sidewalk, road, bike path, dirt road, dirt trail, or a separated bike path, you can usually find your way around by bike. Questions to ask yourself before you begin your bicycle commute are:
- Are you prepared with the proper safety equipment and knowledge of bicycle riding etiquette?
- What public transit systems are available to expand your scope or back you up incase of a flat tire?
- Is your schedule consistent, or are you sometimes required to be at new places on a short notice?
- How predictable is the weather in your area?
Making the decision to travel entirely by bicycle, even for a short period of time, is a big one. You must think about these variables and more because you'll be exposed to some things that are out of your control. Safety is a very important topic to discuss. Whenever you commute by bicycle, you are surrounded by risks like cars driving by you, people opening their doors in your lane, people on the sidewalk, people making a right turn and only looking left when you're riding down the left side of the street, and others that could result in potentially bad accidents if you aren't careful. You must wear the proper safety equipment, like a helmet, and if you're riding at night you need front and rear flashing lights.
Public transit systems can be a life-saver if you get a flat tire, or you are just flat tired. Be sure to research the bus systems that are available along your route ahead of time. Know the times they serve, how much money it costs to ride, and where they go. The best separated bike paths are close to a bus way, and are the safest routes to take for a ride. The closer you can follow a bike-specific path when you commute, the safer your ride will be and the better your experience. You can't always follow a path, but using one is like using a freeway when you drive, its faster and easier to use. It may not be as direct as your local streets, but it will be easier to use and much safer. They also give quick and easy access to a bus line if the unexpected happens.
Depending on your schedule, you may have certain times during the day that you can or must ride your bicycle to get around. This time is the best time to make use of a bicycle to commute because you have the time to. Other times you may have conflicting interests and decide to use your car because it's easier. Using your bike to get around during your usual commute will often lead to using it to get around to do errands, and exploring your neighborhood more simply because its fun to ride a bike! Make use of your down time in the morning and evenings and find a well lit bike path to ride. Finding a fun loop to do that has either a bike path, bike lanes or some mix of the two is best and safest. If you live in a city and must ride down a dense street with lots of cars, it may be safer to ride on the sidewalk. When it comes to riding a bicycle, its always better safe than sorry.
One more variable that is of concern is the weather. When you ride a bicycle you'll be subjected to whatever mother nature decides to throw your way. This can mean riding on a beautiful sunny day, or it can mean riding in the wind or rain, both of which is very unpleasant. I always suggest staying indoors on rainy or windy days, and if you have a car just use that. I say that, regretfully, because of my experiences with riding in bad weather conditions. Its rough, and can be a damper to your motivation. Keep your spirits high by getting outside on a sunny day and training your brain to absolutely love riding a bicycle, and you'll keep wanting to ride a bicycle every day.
Eventually, once you get your day of bicycle riding done, you'll probably want to ride your bicycle even more! Get out there and have some fun. Make it a part of your daily life and you'll benefit in numerous ways. Your body will benefit from the exercise, your brain will benefit from increased blood flow, and your spirit will grow with love of the world around you. Start slow, remember to always wear your helmet and drink ample amounts of water while you go on the ride of your life!