I’m super excited to share with you a new part of my life that is unfolding. For the first time, I have begun embracing biking as part of my transportation method. I’d like to share with you my experiences as I begin this new chapter and discover what it’s like to embrace bike commuting.
First I wanted to share with you why I started biking. I admit that for years, I had wanted to abandon my car to begin biking. One of the roadblocks that prevented me from doing so was time and cleanliness. I like the convenience of getting to and from work without being terribly sweaty from a bike ride. And I like that driving a car results in a more timely commute.
This past Spring, I was finally forced to give up my car. After two car wrecks, it was finally time to trade the car in for a different lifestyle. I felt like memorializing the car, as it had gotten me through these past ten years of trying to meet my transportation needs. I imagined painting it vibrant colors and adding little objects to it before sending it off to the junkyard. After letting it sit untouched for nearly two months, I was finally ready to give her away.
The loss of my car was overshadowed by new opportunities at hand. This blessing came at time when I was short on cash and could use the insurance money to get by while I searched for an extra job. I started buying monthly bus passes and when I had a temp job close to home I simply enjoyed the walk to and from work. In the back of my mind, I always wondered about biking. When would I be ready to take the extra plunge and try it out? After months of hiking miles between bus stops and transit destinations, I felt I was finally in shape. My body felt ready to go to the next level.
One day I received news that a special sale was going on. A friend was back in town for the weekend and selling her old bikes. I knew Christi would set me up with a good bike because they are her specialty — her life. I tested a bike and ended up going home with quite the deal.
Along with my new bike, I got a set of instruction from Christi on what I needed to start biking.
- Always lock your bike! Purchase a chain from a local hardware store and wear it around your waste if you need the reminder to lock your bike up.
- Get a helmet and get a tire pump, immediately
- Check the tire pressure daily. Otherwise, there is risk in damaging the frame.
- Learn how to repair a tire. Go to a bike store and to purchase a repair pack and ask them to show you how to change your innertube.
- Check your tires for glass after rides.
- Ride with other people and you’ll learn more about bikes! Be social!
I think I’ve done a pretty good job incorporating these tips into my transit approach. Although I haven’t purchased a helmet yet due to financial issues, I finally found a friend that was willing to lend me her dusty helmet until I am able to purchase one of my own. When you need something critical such as a safety helmet, it doesn’t hurt to ask around to see if someone has an extra one that can be borrowed!
I plan to continue sharing more updates with you as I move along in my process of biking in Kansas City. I’m still working on the social aspect; being introverted makes it hard to reach out for invitations to social rides and large crowds like critical mass seem daunting without knowing I’ll find friendly and familiar faces. Part of that anxiety is probably related to my “newbie” insecurity. More recently I was invited to ride with a group of women bikers. I feel as if I am slowly being connected with the culture.
Stay tuned for more updates about my first bike commute, learning the ropes, and photos documenting these experiences. I’m also really into hand-created zines and hope to share some biking zines with you in the future.
I am a participatory learner, so feel free to leave comments and tips as we go through this process together.