Use Your Bike More: 50 Ways To Leave Your Car

by Justyna Frank

This season —more than ever, given road construction and gas prices!— it makes sense to use your bike as part of your personal transportation plan. As many of us are looking for ways to fit more exercise into our busy lives, biking is a super convenient way get moving, get rid of stress, get from point A to point B, and at the same time make your corner of the world a little more livable.

Bike commuting is not just for the dedicated few. Maybe you don’t want to commit to that type of lifestyle. Maybe riding a bike doesn’t fit in your daily schedule. Or maybe you’re not sure if you’ll like it. At least not all the time.

That’s OK. Biking doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You can use your bike when convenient and enjoyable, and still use the car when you really need it. When you take that approach, biking becomes a choice, not a duty, and may just turn into your preferred transportation alternative.

I’ve compiled 50 ways you can gradually incorporate biking into your life in small, bite-sized chunks. Try one, try them all:

  1. Ride anywhere within two miles (or one, or three — you set the limit): grocery, post office, library, coffee shop, friend’s house, beach or pool, etc.
  2. Take your child to camp, program or school (with baby seat, trailer, or on their own bike). Or cargo bike!
  3. Ride to work in nice weather.
  4. Try running a short errand by bike in the rain, just to see what’s doable.
  5. Ride to the train if your commute is long.
  6. Ride to work on casual Friday.
  7. Pick one car-free day a week, and do all your getting around by bike.
  8. Teach your kids the rules of the road by bike.
  9. Work at home? Ride your bike to get lunch.
  10. Run all your weekend errands by bike.
  11. Do your recycling by bike.
  12. Ride to your kids’ games by bike.
  13. Take the kids to the park by bike.
  14. Bike to your workout.
  15. Skip your workout and ride your bike instead!
  16. Ride a bike when you go out to eat with your sweetie (enjoy guilt-free dessert!)
  17. Bike to get bagels for your Sunday brunch.
  18. Do your own informal neighborhood garden tour by bike.
  19. Hit thrift shops or garage sales by bike (bring a backpack, baskets, bungee cords, or a trailer!)
  20. Ride a bike to the farmers market (ditto.)
  21. Have a bike picnic.
  22. Combine the above two: bike to a farmers market followed by farm-to-table picnic.
  23. New mom? Get a baby seat and ride off the baby weight (baby has to be able to sit unassisted).
  24. Traffic averse? Figure out places you can ride without going on a major thoroughfare.
  25. Ride to you hair appointment (plan on your new hairstyle getting squished under a helmet).
  26. Use your bike to get home after you’ve dropped your car off for maintenance.
  27. Ride to the lakefront (there are many ways to do this while avoiding major streets).
  28. Out of cream for the morning coffee? Take a quick ride to the store.
  29. Bike to neighborhood and arts festivals.
  30. Explore new to you bike paths and trails in Chicagoland.
  31. Get a group of friends and explore ethnic food offering by bike.
  32. Try a self-guided tour to learn about Chicago history and architecture.
  33. Get a buddy and commit to doing some biking together.
  34. Pick an errand you usually do by car, and switch to biking.
  35. Commit to a number of miles to ride each week or month.
  36. Show your kids it’s possible to get places without a car.
  37. Ride to a natural area, then relax and enjoy your surroundings.
  38. Park your car along the lakefront path, and ride bikes to Navy Pier, museums and other downtown attractions (best to do this before summer crowds take over).
  39. Park your car along the North Branch Trail, and ride to the Botanic Garden.
  40. Ride your bike to a class or workshop.
  41. If you participate in community gardening, ride your bike there.
  42. Never learned to bike? Consider an adult tricycle. Or talk to us at Cosmic Bikes about setting up an adult balance bike.
  43. Looking for a new home? Get a friend, and explore new neighborhoods by bike.
  44. Visiting open houses? Ride a bike.
  45. Ride a bike to get ice cream or other indulgences.
  46. Combine biking and walking: bike to a shopping area or other attractions, lock you bike, and continue on foot (more on that here).
  47. Try consolidating your major errands a shopping trips to a day or two per week, and use your bike for smaller trips on the remaining days.
  48. Keep your bike all your bike gear in one place, so you can get on at a moment’s notice.
  49. Keep a pump handy, in case your tires get a little soft.
  50. Carry a backpack in case you find anything you want to carry home with you, stash a packable windbreaker in case the weather turns cool, and carry a little cash for emergencies.

Got other ideas for incorporating biking into your daily or weekly routine? That’s what the comments are for ;-).

Photo credit: Jay Madden

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