How to Promote Bicycling

Let’s face it; most people need motivation to ride their bike more often. Their excuses for not riding range from inconvenience to kids to safety issues. Yet, once you get a person on a bicycle, they remember how much they enjoy the activity and begin to work around solutions to their excuses. So what can one person do (me or you) to encourage and promote bicycling knowing the road blocks people have concocted in their minds?

Excuse #1: It takes too long to ride my bike to point B; driving is quicker.

Solution: Help the person work out a short-cut path via bike. The nice thing about biking is that you can take short cuts, unlike driving a car. A person can cut through a park, college campus, or parking lot and shave off a mile or two. Remind them that it may take a few minutes longer, but they’re getting their exercise at the same time which in turn means not having to visit the gym later in the day. Heck, Lebron James even realizes that sometimes it’s easier and faster to ride a bike than deal with traffic!

Excuse #2: It’s not safe where I live; there’s way too much traffic.

Solution: Encourage them to ride with a friend and plot out a safer, less trafficked route. You might even be that “friend” who rides with them. Offer to meet them at their home or a mid-point. Riding together makes the trip more sociable and less scary for a beginning rider. Also choosing a safer path will help encourage a hesitant person.

Excuse #3: I have to pick up and drop off the kids.

Solution: This is often the case for many parents and there’s not an easy solution for this excuse. One solution is that someone watches them, or picks them up/drops them off in a carpool type of scenario. Another solution for older children is they ride with you, and a third solution is to purchase a cargo-style bike that allows you carry them on your bike. However, cargo bikes aren’t cheap and convincing someone who doesn’t ride frequently to plop down $1,500 on a bike is like asking them to walk across burning coals; you get a look of disbelief.

If my solutions seem a bit extreme, Planet Bike has a few tips for promoting cycling:

  • Replace one car trip a week with a bicycle trip. Just one.
  • Put air in your tires and lube your chain. Easy to ride bikes make all the difference.
  • Join a local bike advocacy group. Get involved and help promote biking.
  • Ask your company to support biking. (Companies like Clifbar and Discovery Communications give money to their employees to help them purchase a bike.)
  • Get involved in local planning issues by voting. Want more bike lanes? Ask for them.

Lastly, I’ll add in make biking look appealing and stylish – not difficult and sweaty. When you say, “Let’s go biking!” instead of visualizing sweaty, grunting Tour de France cyclists, show them it can look more like easy, breezy, wear-what-you-want cycling by doing this yourself.

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