The Pledge to Pedal starts May 1! A little planning can set you up for success in replacing one car trip a week with a bike trip.
You’ve signed up for the Pledge to Pedal. Now what?
(If you haven’t signed up, now is a great opportunity to commit to replacing one car trip a week with a bike trip this May for Bike Month!)
Biking for transportation doesn’t have to be complicated. The goal of the pledge is to start with a small change – swapping one car trip for a bike trip each week – and discover how it’s possible to make it a habit after May ends. Building a routine that will last is more important than having all the “right” equipment or clothes.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you get started!
How Do I Decide Which Car Trip to Replace With a Bike Trip?
There are a few ways to incorporate a weekly bike trip into your routine. It helps to start thinking about where you currently drive, how often you take those trips, and how far away they are from home.
Depending on your routine, comfort level, and type of bike, different destinations will work for different people. Many trips require little to no equipment. For example, you could bike to the U. S. Post Office to drop off a letter, or to a park or restaurant to meet friends. If you’re able to carry things with you in a backpack or bike bag, biking to work, the grocery store, or to the gym is a popular choice. You can consider biking with your kids to school or childcare depending on their age or the availability of a child trailer/child bike seat.
Since the Pledge to Pedal is a once-a-week commitment, you could pick out your bike trip based on any trips that you take each week – like a standing work meeting, a weekly class or appointment, or anything else that happens the same day and time each week. Committing to a consistent bike trip makes it easy to remember and stick to each week in May.
Did you know that about 50% of all car trips taken in the U.S. are 3 miles or less? Short trips are a great starting point for taking a bike trip! You don’t have to commit to long bike rides to get where you need to go. Start by thinking of the places you drive that are closest to home and swap your car for your bike next time.
Route Safety and Comfort
As you identify your current car trips, check a map or app to see if there are bike routes available that you are comfortable using. Google Maps, Ride with GPS, and Strava are just a few route planning options that can help determine a route and provide directions as you ride. You can also post to the Cascade Member Facebook page or other local bicycle club pages, where lots of people who bike are happy to help determine the safest route in your community.
If you already enjoy riding for fun, why not tack on an errand before you get back home? Just a little planning ahead before you leave means you can take care of a task while also enjoying the ride. All without having to go home and grab your car keys!
Is My Bike Safe to Ride?
If it’s been awhile since you were last on your bike, check to make sure:
Your bike tires have enough air in them;
The brakes are clean, properly adjusted, and work smoothly and reliably; and
The chain and gears are clean so that you can pedal and shift gears easily and safely
If you’re not sure what to look for or how to make these adjustments, head to your local bike shop before you start riding.
What Do I Wear and Bring?
All you really need to bike for transportation is a bike, a bike lock, and comfortable clothes you can move around in, including shoes you can pedal in. We recommend wearing a helmet, bringing a water bottle, and having front and back bike lights. If you need to carry things while you ride, a backpack or bag you already own is a great place to start.
How Else Can I Make My Pledge to Pedal a Success?
Tell someone you’re taking the pledge so they can help you stay on track to swap car trips for bike trips.
Better yet, enlist a friend, your partner, or your roommate to take the pledge and ride with you!
Make it a family affair and ride together – it’s easier to carry groceries home with more people.
Allow yourself extra time to try out a route, figure out what clothes you like to ride in, and what, if anything, you’ll be carrying with you.
Most of all, take on this activity with curiosity and kindness – trying new things may not always go smoothly, but it’s the act of trying it out that matters!
Cascade’s Education page has links to adult classes including Urban Cycling Techniques, Fix-a-Flat courses, bike maintenance classes, and more.
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