You’ve gotten your bike ready, picked a destination and route, and gone for a ride. Now it’s time to talk about how to make this initial foray into a habit.
1: Make the decision easy: Too often, step 1 to getting something done is to pick up the car keys. We keep our various sets of keys in dish. Even after I started trying to bike some of my errands, it took me a few weeks to realize I’d have an easier time choosing to bike if I kept my bike-lock key in the same place. That way, when I reach for keys, I can make a snap decision & reach for the bike-lock key instead of the car key.
2. Make it quick: Once you grab the bike-lock key, it would be a deal-breaker if finding the rest of the gear turned into a major ordeal. That’s what it was for me: helmet on a back shelf in a deep closet, gloves in the glove bin, lock wherever I last left it, ankle straps in one bag or another… . We have one of those space-saving shoe racks on the back of our hall-closet door. I requisitioned the top three for my gear. Left to right: helmet, locks & cables, and ankle clips and straps (and for winter biking, gloves and a skullcap, which is all the extra gear it takes to take me down to 20 degrees). Not pictured: my cheap old backpack hanging on a hook inside the closet, just a few feet away, and my bright yellow bike-bag that clips onto my rear rack, sitting on the closet floor.
3. Give your wheels some room: When you use a bike for recreation once in a while, it’s OK to store it hanging upside-down like a bat in a corner of the basement or garage.
But if you plan on using it regularly, give it some room. Liberate the bikes! Banish your car to the driveway or the street for the season, and give the garage to the bikes.
4. Make a mental list: Expand your list of destinations. Once you’ve tried them out, keep them all in mind as biking possibilities. Slowly but surely, the list will grow. I started with two: Whole Foods and the Post Office. I’m up to over a dozen now, and I keep adding more. Pretty soon, I might start expanding the distance to 2 miles, which puts me in range of Shaw’s and Trader Joe’s. But then I’ll start looking into an Xtracycle or other kind of cargo-bike, and that’s a subject for another day. (But I dream! Russo’s: 4 miles, Moody Street in Waltham: 5 miles…)