Question: What equipment do you need to bike?
Answer: A Bike.
Maybe you haven’t ridden a bike since you were a kid, maybe you want to try biking to work one day but the thought of purchasing a lot of equipment is daunting. If you are facing these barriers, know that becoming a person who rides a bike is as simple as hopping on a bike and giving it a try!
I should clarify that jumping on a bike during daylight hours is quite different than a night-time commute when it comes to visibility. If you are heading out at night, you must go the distance and ensure you have a front light as well as, at minimum, a rear reflector. I highly recommend a flashing red light. Whether you’re on a path through the park, or on the road, you need to see and be seen.
That said, I am an adamant believer in removing any and all barriers to individuals making a step towards bettering their health and the health of the environment. Therefore, if it has breaks, a steering wheel and you feel comfortable and balanced on it, give that bike a ride! Too often, individuals think that you need to be in lycra with click shoes and a fancy bike to be a true “cyclist.” Cycling is for anyone and everyone!
Over the July long weekend a good friend of mine got married at the Forks, with the wedding reception at the Children’s Museum. Since many of his friends live in the Downtown and Osborne Village areas, a number of us arrived on bike in our fancy clothes. Here’s a photo of me post-reception on my ride. Ever wondered what it feels like to bike in heels? Remarkably comfortable, especially at the end of a long night!
I know what some of you are thinking: where is your bike helmet?!? This is a rather contentious issue these days, especially here in Winnipeg when some Councillors asked the City Administration to study whether or not Winnipeg should impose a mandatory bike helmet law for adults. My personal philosophy is that commuting by bike is part of my life, and in terms of “hazardous activities”, it ranks quite low. If you want to do more research on this, I recommend this Ted Talk by Mikael Colville as well as this article in Momentum. In short, you’re way more likely to get a head injury in your car, and you probably drive more often than you bike, so it’s sort of weird that you don’t wear a helmet in a car if you’re really concerned about head injuries. Actual danger and perception of danger are two unique things. Plus, the number one way to improve safety for people on bikes is MORE people on bikes, so let’s focus our efforts on building infrastructure that makes it safe and equitable for all commuting choices!
As you ride more and more, you may want to upgrade your bike and purchase some gear (I will never again have a bike without a rack, so handy!!) And hey, you’re saving so much money on gas and parking, so get yourself something fancy! But for now, don’t put off jumping on your bike due to lack of gear.
Get out there and enjoy the ride!