Here’s my best attempt to persuade you that biking is your purpose in life. Or at least the best way to get around a bunch of places.
Biking saves money!
Biking is pretty much free after you fork over the initial outlay of money. My commute to work in Chicago using the L cost me $80/month for an unlimited pass. This expense was begging to be cut back, just pleading to be eliminated because Chicago, for the most part, is a beautifully flat city with bike lanes up the wazoo. At least, it had bike lanes from my apartment to my office building downtown, which is what matters.
Over the course of a few months, I claimed an old pink Huffy bike in my parent’s garage (free), found a mechanic who fixed it up (bartered with him, so $0), nabbed a couple of locks from my parent’s basement (free), and purchased a helmet ($20).
I’m not entirely convinced that you need a helmet, but I’m too much of a wimp to act as a first-mover in this problem. Shortly after my first successful commute to work, I canceled my monthly unlimited Chicago Transit Card pass and made back the money I spent in a week. There were a gazillion weeks after that where my commute cost me nothing. Nothing!
My commuting costs weren’t that much to begin with because I didn’t have a car. If you bike instead of using your car, the savings must be like huge. Cars are one giant money suck and every trip you take using your car costs you money.
Here is what I think you need to start biking.
- Bike (duh)
- Helmet (maybe)
- Snake lock thingy (for the front tire)
- Heavy lock thingy (for the frame and back tire)
- Water bottle
- Tissues (I’m allergic to the world)
- Lights (if you’re biking at night)
- Front light
- Back light
- In the winter:
- gloves (I used two pairs if it was cold)
- In the summer:
- a change of clothes
- Backpack (for the stuff)
It’s not that much prep and it gets easier the more you do it. Like everything in life.
A lot of cities have bike sharing programs, so maybe try that if you don’t want to spend money on an actual bike straight off. Many cities also offer free courses on bike maintenance, repair and routes. Seriously, look into it. We’re all here to help you. If you are relatively close to where you want to go, you can bike there at least some of the time, huh?
This is how to live.
Biking gives you control
My favorite mode of transportation is walking. I love walking more than I love anything and will gladly walk anywhere for as long as you want. Leisurely stroll to the library? Cool, which one? Date in Logan Square? Okay, I’ll take the train to you and you can walk me back home. Meeting with Leif in Bridgeport? Argh, I just missed my bus, so will be about 20 minutes late. Sorry.
Unfortunately, walking allows you only so big of a radius of wandering before you concede to time difficulties. After a couple of weeks of successful biking to work without dying, I realized that I could ride my bike all over the city.
Like everywhere. To do everything. My world opened up with my patented explosion noise. Biking easily triples the distance I can cover over walking. Quick trip to the library to drop off books? That is like a three-minute detour on my way home from work. Date in Logan Square? Yes, there’s a bike lane all the way there and all the way back! Meeting with Leif in Bridgeport? What better way to demonstrate the power of thrift than spending $0 to get there — and on time to boot!
I had a mode of transportation that I could control that was fast and convenient and so fast. And you know I’m a big fan of the illusion of control.
This is how to live.
Biking feels empowering
I don’t know why, but biking seems daunting. There are moving cars and people and I’m a wimp. Biking makes me feel like a badass. Still on the wimpy side of badassity, but badass nonetheless. It’s a super easy way to feel good about yourself.
If I can do it, you most certainly can do it.
Biking is good for the environment
Better than cars anyway. You know all this.
And good for your body
You know this too.
Biking is fun
Remember as a kid when you went biking for fun? That’s because biking is fun! It’s so much more pleasant than taking the train or cursing in traffic. Riding my bike to and from work was the highlight of my day in Chicago. It can be the highlight of your day too!
A good bike is worth the expense, I think
I’m embarrassed to admit that my old pink Huffy bike was kind of crappy. I had no idea what to do with the gears and I can count the number of times I passed another cyclist on two hands. I’m used to being terrible at physical activities, so I never minded.
In Chicago anyway. I rode to work sporadically in Sydney, but ultimately abandoned that endeavor. Here’s the list of reasons I made to justify my bad decision.
Why I’m Going to Stop Biking To Work in Sydney
- Biking takes seven minutes. That’s not enough time to enjoy my time outside.
- That hill on Forbes Street is a major jerk. I’m putting it on my archenemy list.
- Hauling my bike up and down three flights of stairs daily is surprisingly stressful.
- It’s been a year and I still feel like the traffic is on the wrong side.
- I suck at life.
Here’s where I failed. My bikes were too cheap.
I know that’s not what you expected me to say. But I’m all about spending money on things that are important to you. I suspect the large quality of life improvement would have been worth the expense. If the bike were lighter, I wouldn’t struggle so much with the stairs. If the bike were electric, I may have been friends with that hill on Forbes Street. Although, I imagine I’d still encounter the initial problem of taking it up stairs.
I am glad I brought up electric bikes though. I recently hung out with Mr. Money Mustache (I don’t think that’s his real name) and he let me try his electric bike. This is how to live indeed. I find myself wanting to stay in one place so I can justify the purchase and spend my days zipping up steep hills and laughing maniacally.
What an invention! The bike Mr. ‘Stache let me try was basically a minivan version so you could haul groceries or medium-sized children or children-sized adults on it quite easily. Now there’s nothing you can’t do on a bike.
My only pause is that they’re rather pricey. I’m not sure what the appropriate amount to spend on a bike is. I’d have to do the math, but I suspect it’s more than the $30 I spent in Sydney, but probably less than the fancy electric minivan one which can run into the thousands.
Anyway, I added “go on a long bike road trip” to my life bucket list. Suggestions on routes?