So you want to start utility cycling?

Quick blog post to start this week to answer an important question. You've heard good things about the benefits of riding your bike. It's faster than walking, cheaper than transit, it's good for your health, and can even improve your sex life! So how can you reap the benefits of daily riding? How do you start using a bike to get around the city? If you haven't rode a bike since childhood, or only ride for recreation on protected bike paths, great! There's a whole world of utility cycling for you to discover. There are lots of beginner bike guides out there, but most are geared to recreation, so I thought I'd write a little something to get you started on utility cycling. 

Here's our quick guide to starting a bike habit:  

  1. The best bike is the bike you already have. You don't need a special bike to start riding, and you don't need any special equipment to ride a bike. A small backpack will help you get started for carrying your things if your bike doesn't already have a basket. A good lock (U-lock or heavy chain) can be helpful if you're doing something that requires your bike to be left alone, even for a short period of time. 
  2. Start small, by setting small goals. "I will ride to the grocery store once per week for milk and a loaf or bread," or, "I'll ride my bike to meet a friend for coffee once per week."
  3. Tell someone about your goal. Lots of good research shows that telling people about your goals makes you more likely to stick with them.  
  4. Reward yourself. "When I'm at the grocery store, I'll buy ice cream," is a great start. Meeting friends and arriving somewhere by bike together is always a great reward, too. 
  5. Have fun! Riding a bike is the most fun way to get around, enjoy the scenery, watch for wildlife, stop to smell the flowers. 
  6. Tell your friends that you're succeeding at your goal! They'll give you some encouragement to keep going! 
  7. Go back to Step 2, and set a bigger goal. Like cycling to work once per week, or taking your bike on transit once in the next month. Repeat. 

Riding a bike for errands, for commuting, and socializing is easier than you think. It's fast, inexpensive, and convenient -- you always get to travel on your own schedule, no waiting for the bus or an Uber. Start small, set goals, and reward yourself, and you'll be on your way to forming a biking habit in no time!