Maya is the Physical Activity Coordinator for DPH.
I used to ride my bike ALL the time as a kid. My bike was pretty much attached to my body. My next door neighbor, Jason, and I would ride every day after school, exploring different neighborhoods, racing each other, having a blast. We weren’t even allowed to come back inside until it was dark out. I felt such freedom and independence – I could just hop on and go wherever I felt like at that moment. I was hooked.
I’m sure everyone has a story that starts out like this – along the lines of, “When I was a kid, I used to walk 10 miles each way to and from school in the snow, freezing rain and hail, barefoot and blindfolded…” But stick with me – I have a point.
I think we tell stories like this in an attempt to remember the “good ole days.” The days where we felt young, carefree, when life was simpler. But something happens as we get older – I’m not sure why or what – but we’ve managed to lose that sense of happy-go-lucky lightheartedness as we’ve become adults.
I’m also willing to bet that somewhere along the road, we also stopped riding our bikes. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Have you tried getting back on your bike as an adult? Were you nervous at all? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably yes.
One of the main reasons for the nerves could be that riding your bike alongside cars and traffic seems a lot more dangerous now than it did when we were kids. There’s an easy fix: education! MassBike is a statewide bicycle advocacy organization that is working to make it safer and more enjoyable for everyone to bicycle for life, work and play.
David Watson, the Executive Director of MassBike, would like to share a few tips to make riding safer and more fun:
- Be predictable. This is safer because others on the road will know what to expect when they see you. Always ride in the same direction as traffic, and go straight – don’t weave in and out. Follow the rules of the road – traffic laws that cars must obey, must also be obeyed by bicyclists.
- Be comfortable. This means wearing clothes that you feel comfortable in (remember the helmet) and starting with distances and speeds that are easy for you. There’s no need to channel Lance and pretend you’re doing your own Tour de France. Try starting out by shifting some shorter trips from your car to your bike. It also helps to know where you’re going. If you’re trying a new route, try it on a day where you have time to explore and you don’t feel like you’re in a rush. Remember, you can also take your bike on public transportation – this can help you expand your range of options on where you can ride.
- Be educated. MassBike offers both on- and off-bike classes that will help you get your confidence back. Check out MassBike for more safety tips, class schedules and group rides.
Are you new (again) to biking? Do you have any other tips we can share here? I’d love to hear your experience with revisiting the joys of biking.
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