Some people are natural bike-riders. They learned when they were young children and never looked back, riding all the way through high school and/or college and into their adult lives. And there are those of us who are not natural bike-riders. We stopped riding bikes as we hit teenaged years. To be fair, I gave it a good try when I was in university but my overall health wasn’t the greatest and it never stuck. It wasn’t until I made the decision to learn to ride my bike again for health and environmental reasons that I actually fell in love with active transportation.
If you’re not a bike-rider, it’s time to fall in love again! And I promise you will. The endorphins from the physical activity + time you can spend with your kids + no trouble finding parking spaces = a total love affair.
If you’re out of practice, don’t worry. You’re never too old to learn again! Start making small trips, maybe even just up and down your street until you feel comfortable on two wheels. Remember to obey the rules of the road, and you can always ride on the sidewalk if you don’t feel safe – just be respectful of pedestrians. Go slow to get started! It’s not a race and don’t feel like you have to prove yourself. You’re amazing just for making the effort.
Once you’re ready to take some longer trips, check online for good paths and trails. Most cities have a somewhat hidden network of routes for cyclists that will cut down on your travel time immensely. Plus riding on trails is much safer than roads. I can cover a good chunk of Guelph in about an hour!
If you’re ready to take the jump and start using a bike as a primary mode of transportation, there are a few things you’ll need to consider.
Do you need some extra passenger space? Your kids might love a trailer, or maybe prefer a bike seat or tag along.
Trailers are also great if you need to transport groceries or other large items. (We biked home a training toilet last fall!) If you have less to carry, you might consider saddle bags or a milk crate.
What is your budget? I’ve ridden freecycled bikes, and also bartered for a more expensive bike that a friend wasn’t using anymore. The better quality, the easier the ride.
Once you start planning accordingly for travel times, riding your bike can become a wonderful habit and an easy way to get more exercise. You’ll also spend more time outdoors, save on gas and parking, learn about your city… the list goes on!
One last note: I said it before but it’s so important to obey the rules of the road at all times. There are enough people out there that have it in for cyclists, so don’t give them any more reasons to complain! Here is a great resource on the topic: https://bicyclesafe.com/