Many people like the idea of becoming car-free and getting around by bike – all the while saving money and getting fit. Of course, many people like the idea of winning a lottery too! Like winning a lottery, becoming car-free is a pretty ambitious dream. After all, there are many challenges, such as the weight of the groceries, and for many of us, the need to transport children as well. And some of us like to transport our dogs, too!
However, unlike winning a lottery, it is possible to progress to being car-free with small steps. In this post, Maggie reports on her progress towards her dream of becoming car-free. To start with, here’s an inspirational video full of great tips to help you become car-free, step-by-step.
You should know that when I met Maggie eleven years ago, she would not even get on a bike. She said cycling gave her severe back spasms. She claimed that the last time she had ridden a bike, she had been crippled for days with terrible back pain. So she exercised by running past a cemetery in the early morning, dodging the skunks and the occasional coyote – before getting in her car to drive everywhere she actually needed to go. After about three years of constant education (Maggie calls it nagging), I finally persuaded her to get a decent bike and a professional bike fitting – and she discovered that not only could she ride a bike without having back pain, but she LOVED cycling.
Soon Maggie was commuting to work by bike for 2 days a week. Then 3. Then 4. (See her post, Looking back with pride – my first 18 months as a bike commuter). Then all the time, unstoppably – even when her commute included very unpleasant streets. I was starting to feel like I had created a monster – she scared me!
However, that was just me being overly anxious. In fact, Maggie was on a step-by-step path towards her own personal dream of staying active her whole life, and eventually being able to manage without the expense of a car.
By this point, both of us were commuting to work by bike – but we still used the car for all our shopping and social activities.
Over to Maggie to tell you about her next step!
Maggie: I knew that changing to using my bike for errands, instead of a car, could make a big difference. I bought my BH Street 650 to make this change in my lifestyle (see full review of this wonderful bike here). With its electric assist the BH Street 650 is the perfect bike for long or short rides in any terrain. With its cruiser configuration I am able to wear skirts and dresses, and with judicious use of the pedalec assist I don’t have to arrive for an appointment looking like a sweaty mess. I was especially inspired to make this change after reading Mia Birk’s book, Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet.
Although I use my BH Street 650 for my daily commute, I am embarrassed to admit that my bike was gathering dust most evenings and weekends. A month ago I decided it was time for me to walk the talk! (Or is that bike the talk?)
Over the past month, I am proud to say that I have managed to complete a number of trips to local merchants to pick up groceries, wine, vegetables – and get some fresh air and exercise in the process.
Travellng by bike takes me off busy streets, and instead of getting stressed out in traffic snarls and searching for parking, I enjoy the sights at a slower speed. I actually come home feeling energized instead of weary!
And then there’s using a bike for social outings. This week I actually cycled to meet a friend for a glass of wine at the Paddlewheeler Pub on the New West Quay. I have been wanting to do this sort of thing since I bought the bike. And I finally did it! Not only that, but afterwards I ran a few errands on my way home.
Today I cycled to meet a colleague for a business meeting, then picked up some small tools at my local Home Depot, where I had a short conversation with another cyclist (gotta love the cycling community – we are so friendly). Finally, I grabbed a jacket from my drycleaner and slung it over my already full front basket and cycled back home.
The BH Street 650 comes standard with a heavy duty rear pannier rack that can easily accommodate two HUGE, heavy panniers – and they do. I have also added a deep front basket to increase my cargo capacity. And the BH Street 650 is a sturdy bike so I can really load it up. As long as I manage my pedalec use, I have enough battery to assist me up the many hills in our city. What is nice too, is that the bikes comes with integrated lights so I can stay out after dark if I want to!
They say it takes six weeks to create a new good habit (and five minutes to create a new bad habit!). Let’s hope that I have done it.
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