Since becoming the Outreach Coordinator at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), I have attended a lot of expos, wellness events and festivals. I love meeting new people and talking with them about what we do at WABA. I also like hearing from people about why they do or don’t bike in the city.
So I decided to create two boards to take with me to my events. One of the boards says, “I bike because…” and the other says, “ I’d like to bike but…”. Although I love reading the responses about why people bike, I am even more intrigued by why people don’t. I read each one as people write them and use those responses as a way to jump-start a conversation about what we do and how we can help them. Here are the top reasons I see and hear about why people don’t bike and how WABA can make you a little less apprehensive to biking.
#1 – “I don’t know how to ride a bike.”
I learned to ride as an adult (as did one of my co-workers), so I completely understand how that hinders someone from riding a bike. And as you get older, you realize that you are further from the ground so falling off a bike becomes pretty scary. If you or someone you know is in this situation, we can help.
WABA offers adult Learn to Ride classes throughout the year. We have certified instructors who will spend time with each student getting them comfortable on a bicycle and learning to ride in under 3 hours. And you are never to old to learn. Last season, we had a 76 year old woman learn to ride so you have no excuse! You can learn more about our Adult Learn to Ride Classes here.
#2 – “I’m scared of being hit by cars.”
I must admit, I always find this answer funny. These are drivers who are afraid to bike because of…drivers? But I also get it because I was in their shoes. After I learned to ride, I always rode on trails. I was terrified of being hit by a car, or more specifically, by a taxi cab.
I overcame that by taking a City Cycling class with WABA! I learned to not ride in the gutter, how to signal for turns and how to confidently take the lane when biking to make sure I’m seen by cars. Amazingly, these and other simple steps really do make you feel so much more confident on the road. You can learn how to ride confidently in the city too by taking our City Cycling class.
#3 – “I live too far away.”
This is a legitimate reason to not bike the entire way to work. However, you may be able to do multi-modal riding. For example, maybe you can take the Metro part of the way and take bikeshare the rest of the way. Or perhaps you bike rather than drive to the store or to run errands near where you live. Thinking of biking in these small ways can help build your confidence and get you biking more often.
#4 – “I’m out of shape.”
Biking is great exercise and helps to get you in shape. I often suggest just biking a mile or around the block. Or join one of our community rides so you can be social and ride with others. Often people don’t even realize they have biked 10 miles when they bike in a social ride. And it’s a great way to build up your endurance!
And #5? – “Hills!”
Hills are no joke. I grew up in Anacostia and it is HILLY. It can definitely prevent people from wanting to ride. But there are a couple of ways to conquer hills. One way is to bike down the hill and take Metro or the bus up the hilly part. The other way is to buy or rent an e-bike. These incredible bikes make hills seem flat by giving you the boost you need to roll up any hill with ease.
Now you know the most common objections I hear about why people aren’t biking. But we all have to start somewhere – consider this a step in the bike direction!