We've talked about how to make your commute safe and how to choose your route wisely. Now, let's talk about how to make your commute fun. Yes, I said fun. I know, I know- commuting isn't supposed to be fun, it's supposed to be work. On contrare, my friend- common misunderstanding, but commuting is actually just going to work. And, yeah, it's got a bad rap for being a real drag, but it doesn't have to be. Let's address those concerns and talk logistics.
THE SWEAT FACTOR
When you close your eyes and imagine yourself commuting, you're huffing and puffing and the wind is blowing against you and the sun is behind you beating down on your back and you're sweating so hard you might as well be in a Gatorade commercial. And speaking of Gatorade, you're out of water and you're in the middle of the desert with no one in sight and you've run out of food too and...Wait a second, how did you end up in the desert? This is an urban commute. Ok, well, first open your eyes. And second, that's quite an imagination you've got there. Good news- your commute doesn't have to be like that. At all.
Slow down Sounds simple, but with a car, you can leave late, hit the gas and route around some side streets and still get to your destination in the nick of time without breaking a sweat. See the above scenario for what that option looks like by bike. Well, sort of. Plan for your ride and leave yourself plenty of time. This doesn't have to be exercise. Or punishment. All your leisurely weekend bike rides? This can feel exactly like that.
Put a bag on it Your bike, that is. Adding racks, bags and baskets to your bike is the best way to add character and style while also adding a ton of extra function. Maybe we can't take all that weight off your shoulders, but we can at least help get your backpack off of there. The best set-up depends on your needs and your bicycle's capabilities, but we hit some of the general mount options in this blog post.
First mile, Last mile Depending on how far you're going, consider using your bicycle as a link in a larger transportation plan. Ride to and from the nearest metro station and let that nice, air conditioned train get you the rest of the way.
There will be hot days where none of this will matter. So, for those days, wear breathable fabrics and bring a change of clothes. A cold wash cloth will go a long way in freshening up, a nearby gym with a shower will go even farther.
"This doesn't have to be exercise. Or punishment. All your leisurely weekend bike rides? This can feel exactly like that."
You're a multi-tasker. You like to zip out to the post office on your lunch break and you hit the grocery store on the way home and you're thinking there's no way you can do all of that while riding your bike, so maybe this isn't such a good idea. On contrare, again.
Set up You will be shocked and amazed at how much that rack/bag/basket set up will allow you to do and carry on your bicycle. Add a snazzy set of panniers, a great wald basket with a nice roomy shop sack inside and you'll be able to grab your groceries and my groceries with no problem. (We can coordinate that later, ok?)
Schedule Maybe you eat a lot of heavy foods or you're running a booming e-commerce business with towers of packages to mail each week and you're not crazy about doing all your errands by bike. That's ok. Riding your bike sometimes doesn't mean you have to ride your bike all the time. Make it work for you. Schedule your errands for days you drive and knock them all out in one run or save your bike riding days for shorter trips when it makes more sense for you.
Subscribe It's probably worth mentioning that, at the time of this posting, it's 2017 and we have things like Amazon Prime and Instacart available to make our lives a lot easier. Yeah, you pay a membership, but you don't pay for gas or parking and think of all that time you'll save. Just saying. Errands are only fun and glamorous if you're a harried but adorable personal assistant in a romantic comedy. And even she is basically Amazon Prime for her boss.
"Riding your bike sometimes doesn't mean you have to ride your bike all the time. Make it work for you."
THE FUN PART
Now that you have all this time and the flexibility of being on a bicycle, take advantage. Do things you can't do in a car. Pull over spontaneously for a donut. Stop at the park to see the sunset. Swing into that bar that has no car parking on the way home for happy hour. If you see an interesting new street, make a turn and explore it. This is where the magic happens. This is where it gets really fun.
Photos by Heidi Zumbrun