For some reason, city biking gets a bad reputation . Most people believe that it is dangerous, time consuming, and only for a certain type of person. In this post, I will try to speak to these issues while using Memphis as the example.
The first issue people have with riding a bike is how dangerous it is. I think a lot people are hesitant to ride on busy streets like Poplar Ave, Union Ave, or even Cooper St. I completely understand this and I do my best to avoid them too. In my experience, the solution to this is to find alternative streets that don’t have a lot of cars going by at high speeds.
For instances, I wanted to make a trip to Kroger on Union Ave. Although I used Union Ave as a guide, I traveled on streets that ran parallel to the busy one. I live in the Binghampton area so I took Hollywood and made a left on Avery. From Avery, I crossed South Parkway to Harbert Ave. From there, I took Lemaster St. to the Kroger. I think low traffic routes like this are the way to go if you feel uncomfortable riding on busy high traffic streets.
Which always brings people to their next concern, that it take less time to drive than to bike. At face value, I can’t argue with that but try looking at it a different way. You would save about 15 minutes in my Kroger example if you drove to the store. However, I think of those 20 minutes biking as your daily exercise. (You’ll feel a little less guilty about last night’s encounter with the box of Cheez-Its.) If you started commuting by bike, you may be able to even skip the cardio at the gym or avoid going there all together.
Lastly, a lot people think biking is only for highly active people that ride Trek road bikes and wear cycling tights. I’m not sure that I even identify with the “model citizen” title that we were given for this challenge. That’s not me at all. Let me be honest. The only exercise I got this past weekend was walking from the fridge back to couch so I could feed my face.
I am as lazy and unmotivated as the next person. At first, I only would bike a mile here maybe a mile there. After getting used to longer distances, last summer I commuted 20 miles every day by bike. At first, I was exhausted at the day’s end. By the end of the week, I felt pretty good afterwards. By the end of the month, I was looking forward to it every day. It’s a process that takes time.
I think this car-free challenge gives people a good chance to see the benefits of biking and taking the bus. I found it best to take baby steps toward the goal. Start small. This week hop on the bike or bus and go to the grocery store to pick up few things. In a couple months, you will be upset that you can’t ride your bike to work because of the thunderstorm outside. (In this case, maybe you grab an umbrella and head out to the bus stop?) I found it amazing how quickly being car-free becomes an enjoyable habit.
FYI: It will be useful to have a backpack and/or a bike rack/milk crate combo to put things in. I can fit about $25-$40 worth of groceries in my backpack. Also, I have seen people use their kid’s bike trailer to haul major Costco loads.