May means spring is here and so is Bike Month. One of the best ways to include cycling in your life is to bike to work (happy Bike to Work Week, by the way) — but there are so many other opportunities to work a ride in. Consider riding to the market, the doctor’s office, a pickup basketball game or even dinner. Riding instead of driving gets your heart pumping to help you stay fit, saves on gas money and reduces pollution.
Consider some of these clever solutions to get you in the saddle more often and get where you need to go.
PARTICIPATE IN BIKE SHARE
Bike-sharing programs have gained popularity over the years, especially in cities like New York. Bike shares offer a great, low-lift way to ride without having to own a bike. If you’re not sure about which city trails and bike lanes to take to run your errands, try mapping your route with MapMyRide. Nothing is better than enjoying a social spin to a local restaurant or market with friends without worrying about traffic, parking or about getting your own bike stolen.
DRIVE ONE WAY, BIKE THE OTHER
Sure, you’ve heard about cutting a commute down by driving part of the way and walking the rest, but consider driving one direction and pedaling the other. Some of my busy commuter clients drive into the office one day and then bike home that night. The next morning they swap the order, riding to work and driving home. Rinse and repeat.
MIX YOUR TRANSIT STRATEGIES
Public transit is also commonly overlooked by bike commuters. Many trains and buses allow walk-on passengers to bring bikes onboard. Some buses are equipped with a rack on the front so you can take mass transit part of the way, and then bike the rest. These services are sometimes limited during rush hour, so do your research before trying it out on a tight schedule.
One of my clients cycles 20 minutes from her home to the subway station, saves the parking fee there and then rides the subway downtown before hopping back on the bike for 10 minutes to get to her destination. Conversely, in the car, it would take more time, be more expensive and she wouldn’t get 30 minutes of pedaling in.
GET A DESIGNATED COMMUTER BIKE
The best tactic for a frequent bike commuter is to have a dedicated commuting bike that is not valuable (and is made to look extra shabby), but that functions well. Your bike shouldn’t be fancy, but it should get you where you need to go. You should be able to lock it up securely enough so a potential crook won’t be tempted to steal such a seemingly low-value prize.
Don’t make Bike to Work Week a special, one-time occasion, consider dusting off your bike or joining a bike share. These tactics can boost your time on the bike and reduce your time sitting in the car — whether you’re running errands or going to work.