*** Takeover #8 ***
Let's welcome Yancy from Five Seed as she is the first to takeover my blog for the month of November. Are you wondering what's going on? Check out this post where I explain what's happening. A very special thank you to ALL my friends who have so willingly stepped in to TAKEOVER my blog for a couple weeks :)
Just a quick INTRO, Yancy has been a great friend for a while now, but I was secretly admiring her blog LONG before we ever actually started talking (emailing). I admire the heck out of her, she makes the most wonderful all natural herbal goodies for your mind, body and soul, I just LOVE them, and if you want to treat yourself too, please check out FIVE SEED on ETSY. She is a fabulous writer too, and she writes a lot about living a healthier, organic, lifestyle, yoga, how she rides her bike everywhere, and much much more. Basically all the stuff that I wish I could do more of, she does!
Get On Your Bicycle!
Many people who follow me on Facebook
or at my blog, Five Seed , have commented that they wish they could bicycle more often than driving, as I do. They get a kick out of my bicycle and my new trailer and hearing about my adventures on the road.
However, I notice that many people feel intimidated by the process of working bicycling into their daily commute. I suspect many don’t realize how easy it actually is. Here are some tips for those of you toying with the idea of taking your bicycle on your next commute.
-Learn the rules of the road. This is the most important thing to do. Many cyclists and even drivers are not aware of their local laws regarding bicycling, and therefore, make mistakes that can cause tension between cyclists and drivers (at best) or accidents (at worst). The most basic rule is to act as if you are a car – follow the traffic lights (not the pedestrian signals), use hand signals, don’t ride against traffic or on sidewalks, etc. The more you know about your local bicycling laws, the more confident you will feel. If drivers around you honk or yell at you, you won’t let it ruffle you because you will know that you are following the law.
-Decide what your goal is and then take baby steps to achieve it. My goal, when I began this journey in the summer of 2010, was to use my bicycle instead of my car for all trips less than 16 miles (with the exception of picking up large/heavy items at the store). But I started out by bicycling to my sister’s house, two miles away. Then I tried the post office. Then the store. And so on. Take short trips on familiar roads and you will see your confidence grow with each outing.
-Make the choice to ride. It really comes down to a choice. All last summer, every time I got ready to leave the house, I’d head for the car and have to retrain myself to ask: Can I bicycle there, instead? You will have to get used to the process of pausing before you leave the house to think about your options – until one day, you will automatically find yourself reaching for your helmet instead of your car keys.
-Do what it takes to get yourself on your bike. I hear a lot of people argue about helmets – that you should wear them all the time, no matter what or that you should let yourself enjoy the breeze through your hair. Obviously, it is much safer to wear a helmet at all times, and I do advocate wearing one. If you don’t like what you find at your local sportswear store, try Nutcase helmets, which are super cute. But if you find yourself standing in your garage, debating whether or not to take your bike and the only reason you don’t want to bicycle is because you don’t want to wear a helmet – then I say, just get on the bike and go, sans helmet. I admit, I sometimes (though rarely) go without a helmet so I can just feel the wind around me. But I do not ride without a helmet in heavy traffic, or when I’ll be going down steep hills. Make the choice that works for you – it’s your life, after all! Then get on your bike!!
-Give yourself ample time to get where you are going. If you decide to start commuting to work, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there, each and every time you set out. The reason is simply that you don’t want to feel that you have to rush. Also, the faster you have to pedal and the more stressed you are about time, the more you will sweat – and you probably don’t want to arrive at work soaked! Leave early, pedal slowly and enjoy every moment of your journey.
You have to remember that every step you take will move you to the next level. When I first started, I was terrified of bicycling in traffic, worried that my bike would get stolen, worried about how to get places, where to lock my bike, etc. But by breaking my goal into tiny outings, I was able to build my confidence to a level I never dreamed of achieving. I still get anxious driving in heavy traffic, but I’m much more careful, knowledgeable and assertive these days, and willing to be out there with the “big boys” (the cars). I have tried bicycling at night (another topic, altogether), taking longer and longer trips, and even picking up larger and heavier items with my bike instead of my car (now that I have a trailer). And biking in rain, wind and hail? No problem! My next challenge: snow!
As I hope you can see, becoming a bicycling commuter is really not that difficult. It is simply a change of your daily habits. All you need is a willingness to try. You might be surprised how completely addictive bicycling can be. Try it for a year and you’ll be surprised how much it will change your life!