Ease Into Biking More Often With These 5 Tips
Getting out on your bike is one of life’s most enjoyable activities. It can be a fun way to run errands, get some exercise, or explore your community. Even with all the joy biking brings, committing to riding your bike more often can seem intimidating or impossible to new riders or those who have had negative experiences that have kept them from getting on a bike. If you’re ready to make the impossible #bikePossible but unsure where to begin, we’ve got you covered! Here are five tips to help you ease into riding a bike more often.
Study Up On Bike Skills
Being prepared for what you’ll encounter out on the road or the trails makes all the difference in riding with safety and confidence — you don’t have to be a bike expert, but the more confident you feel while riding, the more you’ll want to take your bike out for a spin.
Watch our Ride Smart videos, which cover everything from avoiding common crashes between bicyclists and drivers to securely parking your bike when you reach your destination, to boost your bike skills.
Also, check out our State Bike Laws page, where we break down state biking policies so that no matter where your pedaling takes you this Bike Month – or any other time of year – you’re prepared to ride responsibly.
Just as it takes time to build confidence in your bike skills, it may take time for you to feel comfortable or able to ride long distances or as fast as others. Remember: it’s not about how far you ride or how fast you go, but how much you enjoy your time on your bike. Try using minutes as a goal for how long you ride instead of miles, and gradually make each ride longer or faster in pace than the last if that’s your goal. It’s best to build up endurance over time lest you risk burning out or injuring yourself.
Ride With Others
Riding with others, especially those who have experience biking in your community, is a great way to stay motivated to ride and learn more about existing bike infrastructure, like bike lanes and trails, as well as what areas to avoid. Ask a coworker to join you for a ride during lunchtime or a neighbor to bike a few blocks around the neighborhood with you.
Introducing yourself to local bike clubs and bike advocacy organizations and joining one of their organized rides is also a great way to find your next riding partner. Many offer beginner-friendly group bike rides with a “no-drop” rule – meaning no rider gets left behind – which is ideal for those who aren’t as familiar with the area or their bike skills yet.
Bike Buddy Programs, often offered by bike clubs, bike organizations, and Bicycle Friendly Businesses and Universities, are designed to pair experienced riders with newer riders to help them become more confident bicyclists.
Combine Biking With Other Transportation Modes
Combining bike trips with other modes of transportation will help you ease into biking there while still maintaining some of your independence and flexibility in terms of how often or when you choose to ride your bike. Taking a train? Bike to the station. Riding the bus? Bike to the bus stop and park your bike nearby or bring it with you if you’re riding a bike with a bike rack. Bikeshare is also an option if, for example, you want to take public transit into the city and then rent a bike to use to get around throughout the day.
Find A Place to Ride That Works Best For You
The presence of contextually appropriate bicycle infrastructure (like separated bike lanes on high-traffic and/or high-speed roads!) and connected bike networks are big motivators for choosing to bike more often. In our Reconnecting to the New Majority Report, we found “more bike lanes and trails” to be the top indicator for what would make people ride their bikes more often. That’s why finding places to ride where you feel most comfortable is essential.
If a fear of riding in traffic keeps you from riding your bike more, try to find a route that takes advantage of whatever protected bike lanes your community offers or go through quiet neighborhoods or parks as much as possible until you’re more comfortable riding in traffic. If you know that street traffic is lighter in the early morning or late evening, ride at those times. Taking small bike trips, like to the grocery store or local library, is an efficient way to assess local infrastructure and find a route suitable for you.
Trails and local parks are also great places to ride, not only because there are fewer cars but because you can also explore nature!
Now go forth and bike! With each moment of bike joy riding your bike more often will become second nature. We hope these tips put you in a power pedal position!