One of my favorite things about living where I do is that I live so close to so much. I’m right across the street from Trader Joe’s, right down the street from Safeway, 2 miles from campus, and within a mile of my church. Yet I have the tendency to want to drive everywhere. My husband bought me a fun bicycle when we were engaged and I try to use it often but there really is no reason not to use it more frequently.
Exercise works wonders on the brain and body. And it doesn’t have to be intense stuff either (though, if you’re up for it that’s wonderful). Simply using your bicycle to get you around to the library, grocery store, neighbors house, church, or out and about is not only fun and active but it saves you gas and helps the environment. It’s a totally economical way of travel.
I realize bicycle riding to every destination isn’t a possibility for many. I get that not everyone can commute on a bicycle to work or school, but if you can: do.
Here’s a few simple suggestions to get yourself on a bicycle:
1) buy a bike. Craigslist is usually an awesome resource for bicycles. I bought my first bike, Byrdie (a trek mountain bike that we upgraded with hybrid tires) on Craigslist and she served me for more than 5 years. Plus she was only $65. You don’t have to get anything fancy, but get something reliable. And if you don’t know what reliable bikes looks like, do some research. There are tons of awesome bike fans out there who are more than happy to show you around the world of bicycles (my husband is one of them). Your local bike shop is also a great resource to ask for advice. They usually know their stuff and if you get the right place they will try to help you find the best option, not just the most expensive bike they sell.
2) Buy a helmet and wear it. I think people believe that helmets look dorky, but who cares? They are there for safety. I see cyclists all over my town not wearing helmets and you know what else I see lots of? crashes. It’s not smart and it’s not safe.
3) Buy some other helpful essentials. I know it seems like you have to spend a lot of money on this, but it is an investment. There are some things you definitely need if you want to actually use your bike to go places (like a bike lock- I like the u-lock. Also a good bike light is essential if you travel in the dark). Other things might help you out more too (like a bike basket or panniers if you want to carry stuff. Or a mirror if you have trouble turning to look behind you. Or fenders if it’s rainy where you live and you don’t want a streak of mud up your bum.) but they aren’t necessary (a backpack works great to carry stuff, and training yourself to look correctly is pretty important. And fenders are only important if you ride in the rain.). Figure out what you personally need and make it work for you.
4) Learn the rules of the road. Each area is different in their acceptance of cyclists. Some towns are built for bikes (like where I live) and other towns are freaked out by them (like most of America). Be a good cyclist and learn what is and is not acceptable. And learn your hand signals.They are super easy and many people use them, so I promise you’re not alone when you correctly inform those behind you what you are doing. Plus the safer you are on your bicycle and the more you use it, the more the rest of America won’t be freaked out by cyclists. so much.
5) Go explore. There’s a whole world out there waiting for you! Go see how far you can go. Go check out some local neighborhoods. Encourage your friends to get bicycles and go riding together. It’s a great form of exercise and a great way to explore and get to know people. Plus it’s easy on your joints, if that’s a concern for you.