active wisconsin / 1000 friends of wisconsin
Gas pump prices are high, but traveling by bike for short trips could be a relief for many Wisconsin residents, statewide advocates say.
“As gas prices reach historic highs, now is a good time to rethink our travel habits and behaviors,” said Gregg May, director of transportation policy at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, about 35% of all trips in America are two miles or less.
“Commutes of this distance can often be done on foot or by bicycle,” explains May. “We encourage Wisconsin residents to reconsider using their car for a short trip or two. Not only will replacing one or more trips per week help your wallet and your health, but it will also help the climate.
Michelle Bachaus, community engagement manager at the Wisconsin Bike Federation, offers tips for replacing a few short car trips with bike trips. “Start with one trip per week by bicycle rather than by car. Think about how you can get there by bike, not the route you typically take by car.
People also read…
“If you’re commuting or taking the kids to school, practice your route on a weekend, so you know how long it will take you,” Bachaus suggests. Since the talk pace on a bicycle is 8-12 miles per hour, it takes about 10-15 minutes to pedal 2 miles. Many city destinations are within a 15 minute ride.
Tim Staton of the Cargo Bike Shop in Madison agrees, suggesting ways to start slow. “Bike commutes don’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing,” says Staton. “Find the trips you take by car that are easy to do on a bike and tackle them first. Something is better than nothing and as you gain more confidence and comfort you can spend more trips from car to bike.
There’s also no need to buy a lot of expensive equipment or clothing, especially if you’re just starting out. Staton says, “If you have clothes you can wear while being active outdoors in the same amount of time you’ll be riding, you most likely have the clothes you need.”
However, if bike rides or long trips become a regular part of your routine, you may eventually want to invest in a good rear rack and panniers (also known as panniers). Says Staton, “Your back will thank you!”
Mathew Christen, owner of Wrench & Roll Collective in La Crosse, offers several mechanical tips for new cyclists. First, ask a bike shop to help you adjust the saddle and handlebars of any new or used bike to make sure it fits. Staton of The Cargo Bike Shop agrees, noting, “Consider your position on the bike as well as how the contact points (grips, seat, and pedals) interface with your body. Ideally, you should be able to hop on your bike in “normal” clothes and cycle many of your trips without pain. »
Second, Christen recommends checking air pressure often and refueling regularly. Proper pressure is written on the side of bike tires, he says, but most new riders treat bikes like they would cars, inflating very rarely, if at all. “It’s the most common cause of flats we see,” says Christen, explaining that under-inflation leads to problems when the tire gets stuck between the rim and the road. “We see more pinch flats than anything else,” he said. To avoid punctures, new cyclists should “inflate their tires once a week or every two weeks if necessary”.
The third most important mechanical bit is the chain, which can wear out over time. Christen suggests, “wipe it or lube it once a month; anyway, don’t ignore your channel. Even if you don’t clean it, put some lubricant on it.
Finally, Christen notes that most people learned to ride a bike as kids, but they didn’t learn everything they needed to know, especially learning to ride in traffic. As adults, they should “seek out information and lessons because even adults can learn to ride a bike better.”
This can include any kind of advice, says Christen: “online courses, videos, websites or talking to someone at a bike shop.”
Christen offers a page called “The New Bike Experience” on her store’s website, which includes another important tip: the most important accessory to go with any bike is a good lock.
James Longhurst, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and author of the book “Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road,” notes that several emergencies in the past have also put Americans back on bikes. “During World War II, rationing of gasoline and rubber tires meant that bicycles temporarily replaced many car journeys, and after the oil crises of the 1970s adult cycling increased.”
Longhurst suggests that, like in World War II, the bike people already own is their best option. “A lot of families already have an old bike gathering dust in a garage somewhere.” Tim Staton of The Cargo Bike Shop points out that “any bike can be an everyday bike. You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money on a new bike. That bike in your garage may actually be just what you need to get started.
After all, if it’s about avoiding paying more at the pump, don’t rush out to buy a new bike before using what you already have.