Since May is National Bike Month, and many cities celebrate it with a Bike-to-Work Day, you're likley greasing your cogs and cleaning your gears to make sure you're ready. What's that you say? You won't be biking to work this year because [insert lousy excuse here]?
We know, we know. If you're not a regular bike rider, it's intimidating to consider riding your bike to work or school or wherever else you need to go. But we know you can do it. In fact, we've come up with solutions to all of the excuses that might be holding you back.
1. You don't have a bike.
No bike? No problem. If picking up an inexpensive bike on Craigslist is not an option, you can borrow a bike from a friend, neighbor, family member or coworker. Just be sure to borrow the helmet, too. Another great alternative is to utilize a bike-sharing program. Almost every major city — and many smaller towns — now have programs in place that allow you to rent or borrow a bike for your commute. If you can't find any info on Google, try calling your town office to find information about bike-sharing in your community.
2. You work from home.
With telecommuting and virtual employment on the rise, many people don't really have a workplace to ride to anymore. But the spirit of the theme is about using pedal power instead of fossil fuels to get where you need to go. So even if you don't have a traditional office to bike to, you could ride to get groceries, drop off a package, attend a conference or even just meet a friend for coffee.
3. You have to dress up for work.
This is probably the most popular excuse people give for not participating in Bike-to-Work Day. After all, it can be hard to imagine making your daily sales presentation with helmet hair. But with a little pre-planning, you should be able to ride your bike and still get to work looking your best. The most obvious solution is to utilize any showering facilities you have at work. If your workplace doesn't have a shower, is there a shower at a local branch of your gym? No such luck? You can probably get by with the one-two combination of body wipes and a dry shampoo. And if you haven't read it, Chris Baskind offers a more detailed rundown of how to make biking to work a part of your routine.
4. You're too scared.
If you aren't super comfortable on a bike, it can be intimidating to hop on two wheels and try to navigate through cars and traffic. But don't let fear keep you from the fun. There is safety in numbers, so, if possible, try to hook up with a group that is headed in the same direction — preferably a group of coworkers. If that doesn't work, contact your local bike shop to find out about any bike groups that might be meeting nearby. And no matter what level of bike rider you are, it's always a good idea to pile on the safety equipment — helmet, reflective clothing, bike and wearable lights — to make sure you can be seen by passing motorists.
5. You just don't have the time.
The morning rush is tough, we know. But if you plan ahead, you can likely trim down the time you need to get where you're going on a bike — even if it's just for one day. Get your gear organized the night before, grab a portable breakfast like a Clif bar or yogurt, skip the Starbucks run, save your errands for another day and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the ride.
6. You're out of shape.
Still fighting the battle of the winter bulge? Cut your commute in half by driving part of the way and biking the rest. Or work your way up to the full commute with a drive/bike combo that makes the biking leg getting slightly longer each day. Take it in baby steps (or baby pedals?) and, before you know it, you'll be biking to work and home like a pro.
7. You have too much to carry.
Wondering where you'll stash your briefcase or purse during your ride? Swap your handheld work tote for a backpack, messenger bag or bike basket. All of the cool kids are doing it, and you'll be amazed how much you can carry while keeping your hands free for riding.