[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by PeopleForBikes’ Green Lane Project, a program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets. It appears here with permission.]
On January 1st you enthusiastically make your New Year’s resolution. For the first couple of weeks you stick to it—you eat healthy, you exercise regularly and you call your grandma on Sunday. By mid-February you’re barely holding on to your commitment, and by the end of the month it’s a wash. If this sounds familiar, my suggestion is to skip this process entirely and wait until the beginning of spring, March 20th, when warmer weather and longer days mean better bicycling conditions. Think of the first day of spring as the real start to your new year and celebrate it by making a bicycle-based resolution that you can stick to. Here are a few options.
Go the distance
Biking farther than you’ve ever biked before is the perfect resolution for bicyclists of all levels. If you generally ride shorter distances, one way to achieve the mileage of your dreams is to plan a destination ride. Is there a neighboring town you’ve wanted to visit, a restaurant you’re looking to try or a friend who deserves a visit? Adding a meaningful destination to your distance goal can increase your motivation, and it gives you something to pedal toward if the going gets tough. If you’re used to long rides but still want to make this your resolution, try signing up for the National Bike Challenge. Set a personal goal for the number of miles you want to ride in a week or month and track your progress, all while contributing to a national campaign to inspire more Americans to ride bikes more often.
Commute once a week
If commuting by bicycle is your goal and you don’t know where to begin, try having a once-a-week goal. This is a reasonable and reachable resolution and it allows for flexibility. You can always work up to more days a week, but starting with one should prevent resolution burnout. It’s also important to remember that even the most committed bike commuters make exceptions, so don’t throw in the towel if you have to take a week off because of weather or other commitments. If you’re a dedicated bicycle commuter, try encouraging a co-worker to join you, or planning lunch rides with your colleagues.
Learn how to fix a flat
Start at the beginning by learning how to repair a flat tire. It is simple to do and you don’t need to invest in expensive tools. All you need is a spare tube or patch kit, a couple tire levers and a pump. In the long run, knowing how to do this yourself will save you money since bike shops charge for both parts and labor to replace your tubes. You can learn online through tutorials or videos or try calling your local bike shop to see if they teach classes. Already know how to fix a flat? Teach someone else or learn another entry-level mechanical skill such as brake adjustment or cleaning your chain. These simple tasks can be very empowering and will keep your bike rolling.
Attend a local bike event
Community bike rides, open streets days and fundraising rides are some of the events that will likely take place near you this spring and summer. These are great ways to meet people, explore new surroundings and get involved with your local bicycle community. Bike shops should have flyers advertising local events, and your city’s bicycle coalition is an ideal resource for information. If you currently make these events part of your bike season maybe this year you can volunteer during one instead.
Donate a bike
If you’ve got a basement or a garage there’s a chance you’ve got an old bicycle lying around that you no longer use. Maybe it’s something your kids have outgrown, or an old bike you no longer need because you’ve upgraded. Incorporate that bike into your spring cleaning by donating it to a shop or organization that can give it new life. Search for bicycle coops and recyclers in your area, or call your favorite bike shop and see if they have any suggestions. If you don’t have a bicycle yourself check to see if your friends and neighbors do and tell them you’ll take care of all the heavy lifting. What was once your trash could become someone else’s treasure.
From riding, to mechanics, to community there are so many ways to increase the role that bicycles play in your life. Sure, you can continue making resolutions in January, but why leave yourself feeling guilty when March rolls around. Start a new tradition and celebrate the first day of spring by making a bike resolution that is fun and achievable. What will your bike season resolution be?
[Top image: Ed Yourdon / Flickr]