Now that you have all your belongings in order, all you have to do is figure out how to get there.
Plan your route. Before you bike for the first time, do a test run on a weekend. This will give you a chance to see how long it will take, find the best route, and get comfortable with the ride when there is less traffic. Check Google Maps or a local biking Web site (here in the Washington, DC area, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association has a good one) to find side streets or trails that you could take.
Stick with your route. Maybe it’s just me, but when riding with traffic I want to be prepared for every pothole, the length of every stoplight, and hidden driveways — and the only way to do that is to become familiar with your route. Safety first! And keep your head on a swivel — don’t assume anything.
Make it work! There are a lot of superficially “good” reasons not to try biking, but most of them can be overcome with a little creativity. And it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing activity. If your commute is really long, try driving or taking mass transit part of the way. Or bike just one way every day (carry your bike on your car Monday morning, ride home Monday afternoon, ride in Tuesday morning, drive your bike home Tuesday afternoon, etc.).
Focus on why you are doing it. I’m sure you know all the great reasons to give it a try, but I’ll say them again anyway: You’ll save money, you’ll get more exercise and you’ll arrive at work refreshed and invigorated. But of course the biggest reason of all is that you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint. Transportation is a huge contributor to U.S. carbon emissions, and every car trip we can avoid will help. Even if you can’t bike to work, consider investing in a bike for short weekend trips to the store or casual dinners out. It all adds up.
Bonus Tip: Just do it. Like most things in life, the first time is always the hardest. Once you work it into your routine, you’ll miss it if you don’t do it for a day or two.
(Image courtesy Margaret Southern/TNC.)
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