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Diane Freeman gives answers for some of the top excuses people use for not getting on a bike.
Diane Freeman, a Waterloo, ON, city councillor, had a million excuses for why she didn’t want to ride her bike around town. Like many people, bike commuting seemed too hard, too uncomfortable, or too impractical. But since she started riding, she finds it impossible to get her off of her bike.
Here, Diane provides solutions to five of the top excuses people have for not riding their bikes:
Excuse 1 “I need to look professional.”
Wearing a suit and tie? Carefully pack your jacket and tie in a saddlebag and consider a short-sleeved cotton shirt. Wearing a dress or skirt? Try having a skirt guard installed on your rear wheel to keep long skirts clear of the spokes. Short skirt? Wear biking shorts underneath your skirt; or pack your skirt. Long Skirt? Try the Bird Industries Bicycle Skirt Garter. If you’re really worried about your office wear, then wear sports gear and pack that suit into the Two Wheel Gear garment pannier. That’s the brilliant thing about the bike industry – if you have a problem, they come up with a solution.
Excuse 2 “There are no showers at my destination.”
Ride ready for the day. You do not need to ride like you are in the Tour de France so keep your speed around 12 mph (20 km/h) and bring a water bottle along with you. Upon arrival, allow your body to naturally cool down and dry. If you have long hair, braid or bundle it up under your helmet, release it upon arrival, and do not brush it until it dries out or pack a portable hair dryer and give it a quick dry.
Excuse 3 “The forecast says rain.”
You are not the Wicked Witch of the West and will not melt in the rain! Your bike’s okay with the rain too. For urban commuting, you need to invest in a full set of fenders, waterproof panniers, and some good rain gear. Cleverhood has several options for rain capes and at Showers Pass they have a variety of head-to-toe rain-proofing protection. I got my gear in Europe because they figured out the benefits of active transportation decades ago and bike gear is cheap. Remember to look for gear that is fully waterproof and breathable. My gear kept me 100 percent dry and, to be honest, I felt a sense of real accomplishment when I completed the ride. Just go for it!
Excuse 4 “I live too far away from work.”
Use Google Maps for your route by using the bike option to find off-road trails. You might find a new, more direct path with fewer hills to climb! Any commute 6 miles (10 km) or less is a perfect distance for me. It is also easy to ride to the bus depot and board the bus. E-bikes, like the Kettler Twin electric bike, are a great alternative for those with longer commutes. Sometimes it’s perfectly okay to let an engine do a bit of the work when commuting to and from the office.
Excuse 5 “I am out of shape and have bad knees.”
Buy a bike from an actual bike shop. An excellent bike shop owner will help “fit” the bike to you based on your commute and ability. Do not go into commuting with the expectation that you have to be in great shape, it will come over time. Set your own pace based on how much energy you have and how confident you feel on the road. Dismount at crosswalks and walk your bike or take regular breaks along the way to catch your breath if needed. There are many “pedal forward” urban commuting bikes built especially for people with knee complaints, like these:
This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated.