When I first found Mr. Money Mustache a few years ago, one of the most mind-blowing ideas I read was the idea that a bicycle could replace a car.
Forgive me since I’m from suburbia, but I never really contemplated the idea that people used bicycles after elementary/high school/college age. Or if they did, I assumed it was because their driver's license was suspended or they couldn’t afford a car. Does that make me a horribly judgmental person? Just telling you the truth.
But one of MMM’s most important teachings is that every adult should have a bike and USE IT! All the time! He thinks cars are only good for long distance travel, like between cities. If you’re doing something within your own city, you should bike. It’s good for the environment, good for your health, and saves you gas money. Win-win-win.
So I gradually accepted the idea that adults could bike... but not the idea that I could bike. I am NOT a comfortable biker. The idea of riding on real roads next to real cars scared the crap out of me! Especially in the suburbs. Those crazy soccer moms in SUVs are gonna squash me like a pancake!
But when we moved up to NY and into a smaller city (with fancy bike lanes in some places), I finally gave in and attempted to bike a few places with Mike. We did a few test rides on our neighborhood side streets, one trip to Tim Hortons for a breakfast sandwich (mmmmm), and then the biggest trip of all: a 1.5 mile jaunt to Wegman’s.
I’ll skip the gory details (we attempted this first trip IN THE SNOW when it was like 20 degrees and neither of us were very well prepared [he wasn’t even wearing gloves and I had ONLY ONE pair of socks on- travesty!]) but just know that we survived, and I only cursed Mike out in my head for like 75% of the trip.
At that point, he had installed a rear bike rack on his bike and jerry-rigged a (maybe-possibly-stolen-10-years-ago-from-Walgreens? I have no idea how he had it) shopping basket to the rack, so we didn’t have too much carrying capacity. Thankfully we only needed to get a few things that trip, so just having the basket worked fine.
But we knew we needed more space if we were going to do an entire grocery shopping trip by bike. So for Christmas, Mike got me a rear rack just like his and bike panniers (practical gifts for the win!). For those, like me, who have no idea what panniers are: they’re two bags that go over the bike rack and hang down next to the rear wheel to carry stuff. Mike got me this package from LL Bean that included a bike rack and fancy waterproof panniers.
So we (okay, he) installed the rack and panniers and then we tried the grocery trip again! (And this time I wore two pairs of socks.) COMPLETE SUCCESS! We were able to get our entire week’s worth of groceries to fit into the panniers and Mike’s basket.
I have never felt so hipster in my whole entire life.
I’m still not that incredibly comfortable on a bike, especially now with snow covering the ground everywhere. But hopefully I’ll slowly ease into it and get more comfortable riding around as time goes on.
So... if you’re trying to cut transportation costs (and become a 100% certified hipster), maybe think about biking! If I can do it, you can, too :)
Note: We also purchased a set of bike lights for our bikes... if you’re going to be riding around and it’s any sort of dark/dawn/dusk, be sure you are lit up like a Christmas tree so drivers can see you!