It’s Bike to Work Week in many places this week, and Friday is Bike to Work Day in the US. Hopefully you can get the will together to bike to work at least one day this week. However, I think the real goal of the week is to get more people biking to work regularly. I can still pretty vividly remember the period of time (13 years ago!) when I switched from driving to work to biking to work. It wasn’t a clean switch. I could tell right away that I enjoyed biking to work more, but I kept slipping back into the lazy convenience of driving from time to time.
From that experience, I learned a few tips for getting more consistent and doing what I actually preferred. I also have a few other tips now that I think would have been useful. Hopefully some of these can help you to keep your butt on your bike beyond Bike to Work Week.
1) Mark the calendar
On days that you bike to work, make a note on the calendar. Seeing all the days you’ve biked will give you encouragement, and seeing the days you skipped will push you to do better… I think.
2) Remind yourself which you prefer
Even when we genuinely prefer one thing over another, it’s easy to be lazy. A little bit of reflection can make the difference between biking and driving on some days.
3) Biking doesn’t have to be a sport
It’s common in the US to treat biking as a sport, but in countries like the Netherlands it’s treated more like an easy stroll. If you genuinely prefer treating it like a sport, good for you, but if you’re like me and prefer treating it like a Sunday stroll, take your time while biking and just give yourself more time to get to work. Just do what you like and don’t feel like there’s only one good way to bike. If smelling the roses helps you to enjoy biking and do it more consistently, then smell the roses. The ability to stop and do such things is one of the great benefits of bicycling, imho.
4) Get a buddy on board
As with many things, a little friendly support can help us stick to our guns. I actually started biking to work (realized it was a genuine possibility, actually) thanks to a girlfriend. Her encouragement was instrumental in my switch to bike commuting. Whether it’s a partner, a friend, a family member, or a co-worker, see if you can get someone else to commit to bike commuting. You will surely push each other along from time to time.
5) Drop the car
The best way to really never drive to work again is to drop the car altogether. After a few years of biking, then driving, then biking, then driving, I finally just decided that I didn’t need the car and dropped it. That was the big move that never allowed me to get lazy again… which I thoroughly appreciated in so many ways. I’ve never regretted it for a moment, seriously.
For more on how to live without a car, see: The #1 factor that has allowed me to live car-free easily and pleasurably for 10 years.