I get asked frequently how I started running errands by bike. It was a slow process, everyone, including those of us who own a bicycle store, start from somewhere. I will admit, riding alone wasn’t as nerve wracking as transporting precious cargo. I think back to the first car ride home from the hospital, and going 30km an hour afraid of every movement with a tiny newborn. It takes time to get used to it, there is nothing wrong with feeling nervous, but you shouldn’t be afraid.
My main goal with our first bakfiets, was just to take our son to the YMCA, soccer practice and the library. All were about a 1-2km radius from us. I didn’t ride in the winter, I rode 6 months of the year. Biking did not come naturally to me, I hand’t grown up riding a bike everywhere like most kids. So I started with short trips, on the bike path and sidewalk. I was a nervous rider at first, so to calm those nerves, I started to plan trips and pick my route.
After a year, I started to incorporate the grocery store, the mall, and our store. I started to ride on the road. I picked a lot of side roads, if it took me 5 extra minutes, I didn’t care, the roads were clear, the pace was slower and more predictable. I gained a lot of confidence taking the slower routes. The more I rode, the more I wanted to ride, and the more our son wanted to just ride a bike everywhere. In fact, he still tries to convince me to give him bakfiets rides, and the one time I showed up at school by car after getting the dreaded phone call that he had the stomach flu, he was pretty angry. He apparently prefers to throw up in the bakfiets. Which I have to admit, is way easier to clean up than the upholstery in the car.
The more I planned routes, I started incorporating routes which my son could ride alongside me. Me on the road, him on the sidewalk. The more I got him out to ride, he started to learn the rules of the road, and could then take the road on certain routes. Now I have no problem with him riding by himself to school, he is a better bike rider than most adults.
When asked how I started, it is just a simple answer “I planned my routes”. The more I planned the routes and got to know the which roads to take, expanding my radius was easy. Plus, the majority of the time, biking actually takes less time for small errands than getting into the car.
After years of biking, I now ride year round, I still take back roads avoiding some of the major construction and road closures, but I actually choose to take slower routes and feel grateful for them, gives me time to smell the roses in a way.