Happy Holidays fellow bike lovers! I write this post with love, gratitude, and bikes in my heart and on my mind. I hope this message finds you well -happy, healthy, and with your family and friends as Christmas approaches.
I write this post shortly after tallying my overall bike miles for the year as compared to my overall car miles. They are very close to being the same.
Car mileage this year is 6,578.
Bike mileage is approx 6,455
One of my goals for 2014 was to ride more than I drove. I feel pretty good about where the mileage ended up and I'm confidant that before the year is over, my bike miles will surpass those car miles. In 2015, I hope to make it an even bigger difference. My goal would be 2 bike miles for every 1 car mile. It is possible, it just takes planning and diligence.
I wish to challenge you as you approach your 2015 resolutions. I wish to challenge you to add bike commuting to your list. Here are just a few of the many wonderful things that happen when you leave your car at home and use your two-wheeled friend instead, to get from point A to point B:
We start with the obvious ones:
You'll be happier
You'll be healthier
You'll be more awake and energized
You'll NOT suffer from road rage like you do when driving a car
You'll smell the fresh air
You'll see things you'd never notice in your car
You'll wave, smile and connect with other people instead of just passing them by
You'll reduce air congestion/pollution/road wear and tear and you'll help decrease traffic
How about a few more complex bonuses to bike commuting? Consider these:
1-you can't cram your schedule as full, because it takes more time to get from place to place. Therefore, bike commuting can actually help you slow down, declutter your calendar and slow your frenetic pace. You'll need an hour between appointments instead of 20 minutes? That's a GOOD thing.
1.5 -when you aren't as frenetic in your day-to-day schedule, you are nicer and friendler to people you encounter. You are more likely to feel compassion, empathy and sympathy for others because you'll have quiet time to think while you ride, which can recharge you and equip you to be more caring for others. More plugged in ... more present. Slowing down makes you nice(r).
1.75 - you'll have a chance to be mindful. There is no "auto-pilot" when you're bike commuting (nor should there be in your car, either!)... however you can be engaged in your bike commute while also taking the opportunity to be mindful while you ride. This is not only good for your mental and emotional health, it's important. It may be your only chance to disengage from all the technology and buzz in your life.
2-you can't buy as much stuff. We are consuming consumption consumers. Buy buy buy. Fill our homes, drawers and cupboards with stuff. Are you desirous of a fridge with shelf space, perhaps a less cluttered home, with less "knick knacks" sitting around collecting dust? Does your office have so many picture frames or potted plants, that you're starting to feel claustrophobic? Bike commuting can provide a solution! You can't physically BUY or cart around as much stuff, when you use your bike to go shopping. (My commuter bike basket can hold a decent-sized bag of groceries- but it's far less than I would normally buy if I drove my car to the store).
Do you find that, no matter what, you spend $100 or more each time you step into Target? It's almost a given, isn't it. Well -ride your bike there and just wait and see how truly selective and purposeful you are in your shopping. Additionally, when you don't just pop into your car and run out to the store to grab something, you end up shopping and buying less overall. When each trip means loading up on the bike and pedaling there, you start to really ask yourself, "do I truly need to go get that? Can it wait until another trip - or can I skip it altogether?"
2.5 - Bike commuting leads to conscious consumers. I have found that the more I "work" for an item I'm going to go buy by bike, the more I want to know what's in it -where was it made -was it locally-grown? Was it grown sustainably? Going there by bike reveals curiosity in the items themselves, and you find yourself evolving into this curious consumer who wants to make the right purchasing choices -ones that align with your missions...ones that align with the goals that got you bike commuting in the first place!
3-related to #2 above, bike commuting can help reduce debt or rid your life of debt for good! You can't shop as much = you don't buy as much. You don't cram as much into your daily schedule or routine = you're not spending money on fuel to rush around like a maniac trying to fit it all in. You will improve your health, so you'll be sick less often, you'll need to see your Doctor less, and you may need less prescription or OTC medications or supplements. Let's not forget the savings in fuel, car wear and tear, and maybe even car payments, registration, and insurance (if you opt for the bike exclusively and go car-free!). The less you spend on car expenses, the more you can spend paying down debts and saving for fun trips or for retirement! (#2 above).
4- you'll inspire others. I don't know about you but I try to make each day meaningful in some way -to positively touch someone else's life if I possibly can. If you are out bike commuting and others see you -whether it's your friends, neighbors, spouse, kids, or simply other commuters driving past you in your car -you may be THE REASON they start bike commuting too. And beyond the basic awesomeness of that, imagine how many of the above positives they will begin to experience in their lives as well. YES PLEASE!
In sum... who doesn't want to be happier, healthier, debt free, engaged in their surroundings, connecting with others, inspiring others, and helping the environment?
Consider how you can include a bike commute in your weekly schedule -especially for those trips that are 3 miles or less.
Here are some great links to help you get started.
Remember- you don't need a fancy bike, or special clothes. You just need to have equipment that is in good working condition and a little preparation in your packing and planning, and you're all set! You may even ask Santa to bring you a nice wind/rain jacket (priceless when it's needed) and some good quality bike lights (if you'll be riding at dawn/dusk/night).
Good luck to you and happy new year!