Sometimes once you’ve been riding for a while, you forget the little steps you took along the way. A recent comment on our “About Us” page reminded me of that recently. Amy in Chicago said:
Hi Ladies: I just discovered your blog and it’s so inspiring! Seeing what you have both been able to do has made me want to give up the el and start biking more often. . . . my boyfriend has been an avid biker for years. I just bought the Gary Fisher Simple City 3 which I absolutely love, but I’ve only been riding on smaller side streets around our neighborhood. I was hoping you could offer some advice on how you started riding on bigger streets around the city. I have to admit, I’m a bit scared of all the horror stories and oblivious drivers. We live in Wicker Park so I would have to find some major street just to get to the lakefront. How did you both start riding on bigger streets? Can you recommend any resources to learn how to ride more safely? Again, I’m really enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work!
How did I get started riding on bigger streets? Like the origins of my sudden desire to bicycle commute, it seemed murky.
- Take small steps. Start in your neighborhood or a less busy area. When you feel comfortable there, branch out. But don’t stagnate — always push your comfort zone (within reason).
- Don’t be afraid to be afraid. It is normal to be nervous when you’re a beginner. It will probably take you longer to feel comfortable than you might think is normal. That’s OK.
- Ride with a more experienced friend. On my first trip to Chicago, it helped a lot to have Dottie riding in front of me and Greg behind — that way, I didn’t have to worry as much about where I was going or who or what was coming up behind me. If you don’t travel with a posse, one friend behind you will do. ;-)
- Know the rules of the road. This should have been #1! Read blogs, your local traffic laws, and sites like How Not to Get Hit By Cars. If you know what you’re doing on the road, you will feel much more confident.
- Make sure your bike is equipped with lights–and wear a helmet. You’ll feel (and be) safer. Once you’re more comfortable on a bike you can decide whether or not a helmet is necessary in your area.
How did you build your biking confidence?