Motivating co-workers/friends/family to bike to work and join you in your quest for a healthier, wealthier, and happier world is harder than it should be. Here you are, offering what is possibly the best option they have of improving their quality of life, and yet they will look at you with equal parts skepticism and disbelief. They are skeptical that it really will change their lives and/or they do not believe it is something they could do. I am here to tell you that if you live within 10 miles of your work, you can and should bike to work at least a couple of days each week.
I have personally motivated 3 co-workers to attempt biking to work. I wish it was more, but I can honestly say all of them loved it. They are not quite as motivated as I am to bike in freezing temps or rain, but they have not regretted their decision. They simply had to get their bikes rideable and get a few cheap pieces of safety equipment (helmet, lights). I would like to see more people riding in to my work, to the point that we need to add a bike rack and start having bike to work competitions. But for now I’ll take what I can get.
My goal is to convince as many people as possible to try to bike to work. So to make this as simple as possible for them and for you, here are 3 tips to start biking to work:
1) Get a bike! Any bike will do. Most people have a crappy Wal-Mart bike gathering dust in their garage. Have a friend, co-worker, LBS (local bike shop) take a look at it if you aren’t comfortable working on it. They can quickly and cheaply get it in riding condition. All you really need to get started is working brakes (though I have seen people riding without those). The other things like good shifters, clean chain, comfy seat, can and will happen with time. But those things cost more money and you don’t want to spend it until you know exactly what you want. If you can go forward, turn, and stop, you have all you need to get started. I recommend Craigslist once you know you want a new bike. Just be sure to reference bikepedia to verify it is a good deal.
2) Find a route. This may take some time but the best way to find a bike route is trial and error… and google maps. First, type your home address and your work address into Google maps, then click the bike button to get biking directions. These directions are often OK, but not great. Google will automatically switch to its bike route mode where it highlights bike lanes in solid green and bike routes (often signed but few markings on the road) in green dashes. See if you can find an alternative route with less traffic but doesn’t add too many miles on to your trip. Remember, the more miles you add, the more calories you burn! I suggest doing a few practice rides early on Saturday or Sunday morning when traffic is light. You don’t want to be stressed about getting to work on time the first day so make sure you know your route and how long it will take. Then give yourself an extra 15 minutes just to be safe. You can also try ridethecity.
3) Prepare. Since you aren’t yet biking to work I’ll assume you are driving (if you are taking public transit, congrats!). You should prepare for biking by making it as easy as possible and bringing things in ahead of time so you don’t have to carry them on your bike. Bring your work clothes, lunches, snacks, towel, deodorant, and any other products you might need to clean up and look professional. Surely you can find an extra drawer you can clean out and re-purpose.
There are plenty of other things you will eventually learn about biking, but for now this is what you need to know to get started. The rest will take care of itself so I don’t want to overload you with tips and advice.
Here is an actual comment from the wife of a co-worker about him biking to work.
“So YOU’RE the reason my husband bikes to work! I wondered where he got this crazy idea! Sure his blood pressure has gone down and he has lost some weight, but he’s gonna get killed!”
You can let fear keep you unhealthy and financially strapped. Or you can overcome the irrational fear and see for yourself how biking can change your life for the better. Can you find just a little motivation?
See you on the road!