For two years, we lived in a neighborhood where we promised ourselves we'd bike everywhere. But did we cycle to the store? Rarely. To the movies? Once. To grab dinner or rent a flick? Maybe thrice. It was a fail. Sound familiar? Well, we moved last weekend—and we've saddled up about fifteen times already. Here's what we changed.
We think our biggest obstacle in our previous neighborhood was the huge hill we had to climb leaving the front door. When hopping on the bike means pumping the pedals like crazy for the first ten minutes of any ride, it can seem daunting. Our new neighborhood is at a much more coastable altitude, which surely helps any bike commute; but here are a few tips that have us hopping on the bike instead of reaching for the keys.
Make a commitment to cut the carbon. The first step was recognizing that riding our bikes meant we weren't using any petroleum-based fuel. (We'll admit, the oil spill has encouraged us to cut the car out of the picture as much as we can.) If you're able to turn to car, bus, or train, it sometimes seems like the easiest route. But making a concerted effort to give up fuel consumption is helping us pedal forward, quite literally.
Set yourself up for success. Keep your tires aired up, the bicycle clean, and your bike lock handy. If you keep your bikes inside, try to store them near the door or make them more accessible. If you keep them outside, protect them from the elements so that they stay in good working condition. We've found that we're more likely to ride on two wheels out the door if everything is waiting at the ready. That means helmets, lights, locks, and even bike-friendly bags.
Have fun while riding. Make each trip an adventure. Find new routes, explore parts of your neighborhood you haven't seen before, try new things (like learning to ride without using your hands), and—at the risk of sounding cheesy—set out to have a good time. Everything is easier when you have a good attitude about it!
For more inspiration, check out these links:
• Roundup: Cycloc Bike Racks on Apartment Therapy
• Bicycle Storage Soluions
• Best City Bikes & Easy Rides 2010
• Inspiration: Beautiful Bikes for Living Car-Free
• Biking Directions iPhone App: Ride the City
(Image: Small Cool 2008: East #12: Wes' Family Farm Inspiration)