It’s a well-known fact that riding your bicycle is one of the most efficient forms of transportation. While bike riding isn’t as commonplace in the U.S. as it is throughout Europe, the bicycle is become a more common form of transportation, as gas prices rise and commuters see the economic, environmental and health benefits that bicycle transportation affords. Many people may be interested in commuting to and from work and around town by bicycle but the idea seems too daunting. Here are a few tips on how to overcome the anxiety and get started using your bike as a regular means of transportation.
Take it easy, just get started!
No one says you need to start off riding your bike to and from work every day of the week or that you have to use your bicycle to transport the week’s grocery shopping for a family of 4 from the other side of town. First, just get accustomed to riding your bicycle in your neighborhood. Take it on short, leisurely trips for fun and exercise. Ride to the park or a friend’s house. If you feel rushed for time, don’t take your bicycle until you feel comfortable. Once you feel confident riding your bike on city streets, try riding your bike to work just one day a week. Give yourself plenty of extra time to get there in the morning, and bring a change of clothes and some deodorant in a backpack. If you live very far from where you work, consider driving half way to work and bringing your bicycle along. Then you can leave your car in a parking lot and bike the rest of the way. Many public transit systems will allow you to bring your bike along as well.
Make sure that your bike has proper reflectors and if you plan on riding at dusk or at night, you’ll want to make sure you have lights as well. My friend Maria of YaBettaSupaDont makes some really cool handmade bike reflectors. You can find all sorts of bicycle lights at your local bike shop or at various online retailers. There are many long lasting, battery powered LED bike lights available. (Remember to use rechargeable batteries!)
Haul your stuff
Whether you plan to ride your bike to and from work or in place of the car for quick trips to the supermarket or other errands, it’s likely that you’ll need to bring some stuff along with you. Bringing a change of clothes and some extra deodorant can make all the difference in riding your bike to work, but if you don’t want to carry a backpack each time, you’ll need the storage space on your bike to haul your goodies. There are a wide variety of bike boxes, racks and panniers available for all shapes and styles of bikes. The team at your local bike store should be able to suggest what will fit best on your particular bicycle, but there are also many unique handmade options available, and many are made with eco-friendly materials. Arborecycle makes stylish handmade bicycle boxes out of 100% reclaimed redwood. Queen Bee Creations designs handmade bike panniers using vegan friendly PVC-free faux leather. You can also attach an old milk crate to your bike rack for some DIY bicycle storage.
Guest Blogger Bio: Mallory Whitfield is a New Orleans based blogger and crafter. Mallory designs recycled clothing and accessories, including everything from reconstructed denim skirts and cozy neckwarmers to outfits made from recycled FEMA blue tarp. She began documenting her love of all things handmade in 2006 with her blog. She recently opened a new online shop, Miss Malaprop, specializing in unique handmade and eco-friendly goods.