24/52: Get on ya bike, NOW!
Updated: Jun 10, 2020
As many of you know, I'm a big fan of cycling and I've blogged about my passion for the activity more than once. A lot of people tell me they'd like to cycle to work, or to the shops, but have never managed to do it. With COVID-19 restrictions lifting, but our premier still emploring us to work from home and stay off public transport, I think NOW is the time to start cycling.
If you are vehemently against cycling this blog post is not for you. This article is for the person who has been thinking about doing this for a while, but they've held back. In my experience, the two biggest reasons people avoid riding a bike are safety and hygiene. Luckily, there are solutions to both of these concerns.
Let's get down to it, cycling can be unsafe. It can get you killed. I'm not shying away from that because every single time I put on my helmet and leave the house, I intend to come back again. There's too much at stake to be complacent on a bike, so here's my advice for a safe ride:
Get a bike (or get it serviced)
Get safety gear (lights, bell, high-vis, helmet & gloves)
Plan a ride
Getting a bike doesn't mean you have to spend thousands of dollars. I bought a Malvern Star bike in 2003 for $300 from the Melbourne Bicycle Centre on High St in Prahran, and I still ride to work on it every day 17 years later! Here's some great commuter bikes that cost less than $600 and will last you for years if you keep them well-maintained.
Likewise, safety gear is just common sense. If I had a dollar for every time I've seen a cyclist dressed in black, riding with no lights...grrr. Again, for a modest amount of money, you can get rechargeable front and rear lights, a helmet and gloves. Any bright or reflective clothing is a bonus and I'd also recommend clear safety glasses (they're dirt cheap at Bunnings!).
Next, you need to plan a ride. If your ultimate aim is riding to work, then plan your first ride for the weekend. Google maps have a great tool within their directions function that let you plan cycling routes. Work out if you can make it all the way to the office using bike paths. Which roads have wide, safe bike lanes? Consider also which roads have great lighting for the ride home. You might not be able to do this properly until you get on the bike so make a plan, take your time and enjoy exploring the best route for you. Need a safety net? Take your MYKI pass because if run out of confidence or steam, you can simply take your bike on the train and head home.
If hygiene is an issue, check with your building managers about showers. Whilst not every office has great end-of-trip facilities, many have amazing facilities! Personal lockers, showers with soap, lit up mirrors - lah de dah!
I didn't plan to be a cyclist. In 2003 I didn't have enough money to buy a car and it was the cheapest way I could reliably get to work for a year. What came from that has been fantastic: health and fitness, friendships, greener travel and now a reliable way to help avoid the spread of a global pandemic!
Go on, get on your bike - who knows where it'll take you.