Commuting by bike doesn’t have to mean going to work. Sure, most people live within 5 miles of their place of business and a bike makes that trip easy, but there are probably a lot of shorter trips you make every week and those can be a great way to get comfortable using your bike for transportation!
The trip to the grocery store, coffee shop, brunch spot, all offer a more diverting destination than the office and they have a more casual dress code to boot! Plus, it’s amazing the caloric consumption you can justify after getting out under your own power as opposed to “sitting your way to the store” in the SUV.
But how do you start? I love Cicle’s advice for the beginner. Take a map of your area and draw two circles centered on your house, one a mile wide and one two miles wide. Now, just color in the spots on the map that you visit regularly (let’s say once a month).
Surprised? When I first did this, I was shocked to see how many of my regular trips were within the circles! Now that the hard part’s over (yep, that was the hard part), it’s time to pick your first destination. Choose one of the spots inside your 1-mile circle, plot out the route you’ll take on your bike, and the next time you’re headed over there, jump on the bike instead of into the car!
Remember that your bike route doesn’t have to be the same route you’d take by car. Quiet side streets, bike lanes, scenic views, build your route around the features you’ll appreciate and that will make you comfortable. If you enjoy it, you’re more likely to repeat it, and trust me when I say a scenic route is worth it. You’ll probably be surprised by how different these “short regular trips" feel on a bicycle. The wind in your face, 360-degrees of visibility, and a chance to see all the little nooks and crannies that your city keeps invisible from those behind a windshield. In fact, you’ll likely find yourself taking different routes to the same places, just to “check out somewhere new”. When’s the last time that happened in your car?
Once you’ve tackled the trips to that first spot, add another destination in that 1-mile circle to your repertoire and start riding there too! As you develop, keep adding trips and, if you’re up for it, work in some of those 2-mile destinations.
Guess what? You’re commuting!