Fifteen days ago, I came home from a bike ride and hopped on Facebook to post it. It was then that I came across a challenge on Council Member Lilligren’s Facebook page called 30 Days of Biking. Here’s how it works: When you sign up, you agree to ride your bike at least once a day, every day, for the thirty days of April. It’s a pretty low-key commitment, as the once-per-day biking could just be 30 seconds around the block. In fact, that’s precisely what a few of my daily bike trips consisted of because I had to squeeze them in during NHL playoff game commercial breaks.
The aggregate map above shows only my first four days of biking. During this challenge, I have tried to use my bicycle as often as possible. It’s not too hard when I live, work, worship, and do most of my shopping all within the Near North community. But until this challenge, I did most of those trips by car. And then I’d drive to the gym and get on some cardio machine for half an hour or more in the evenings. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense NOW, but we’re creatures of habit, and it didn’t take long for 30 Days of Biking to help me kick the habit of the automobile.
That’s not to say each and every trip has been done by bike. Grocery shopping, inclement weather, and very specific deadlines all contributed to me taking more than a few half-mile car rides. But the vast majority of my travels have been on two wheels so far. For instance in sixteen days I have biked just under eighty miles. My longest trip was a 16-mile ride on April 1st. Twenty-two of my forty-four trips have been under one mile, and the median trip length has been 0.97 miles. I’ve been losing weight even though during hockey playoffs my diet consists of beer, bratwurst, burgers, Cheez-Its, beer, and pizza.
In the first week alone, I biked more miles than in any seven-day period since I started using a smartphone app to track my biking activities. And when you stop to think about the minimal difference in biking a mile versus driving a mile, then the car seems less and less of a necessity. Since I’ve got an older vehicle with pretty poor gas mileage, I’ll probably save close to $50 in gas in one month alone.
Contrary to the title of this post, I’m not considering ditching the car entirely. But even before I was halfway through the challenge, I had already seriously re-evaluated how I get around.
(Image by Jeff Skrenes)