Transportation Rituals, Reevaluated: The Luxury Of Walking And Biking

THE FIVE: Essential Lifestyle Principles For A Life In Sync

  1. Yoga: Asanas (Postures) + Pranayama (Breath)
  2. Meditation + Mindfulness
  3. Psychic Sovereignty (Our Relationship To Technology)
  4. Sleep Hygiene
  5. Outdoor Rituals

Driving is the default mode of transportation for the majority of people (especially those of us who live in rural or suburban areas). The pace of modern life can make any other mode feel untenable—but we’ll make the case that figuring out how to include walking or biking in your transportation rituals is not only less daunting than you might think, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to significantly improve your quality-of-life.

On the surface, the choice seems simple: since we need to get from place to place anyway, why not get some fresh air, sunlight exposure, and exercise in the process? There’s no doubt that these benefits produce a much higher quality of life than driving (not least because your physical health will improve measurably).

Walking and biking will also almost certainly save you money (and possibly even time, depending on the traffic and parking situation in your area). And needless to say, they’re both infinitely more eco-friendly than driving. 

We get that this can be an intimidating switch to make, though, especially when driving is an integrated part of daily life and you have a busy schedule. 

Here are some tips compiled from our years of walk/bike commuting that will get you to the level of enthusiasm we have (at this point, the idea of commuting via car sounds like inhumane drudgery):

Is the Luxury of Walking Available to You?

Even if you enjoy walking as a leisure activity, it can take time to unlearn the assumption that driving is the only mode of transportation fast enough for practical use.

Are you lucky enough to live somewhere that the places you regularly visit are within a 1-2 mile radius? Then take advantage of this!  Being able to walk in the fresh air to work or a store or a friend’s house rather than being trapped in a steel box (and possibly in traffic) is a true luxury not available to everyone. 

As you walk for transportation more frequently, you’ll likely notice that time spent walking rarely feels inefficient—instead, it offers space for presence and contemplation (or maybe an ebook or podcast) amidst your otherwise cramped daily schedule.

Walk The Last 10 Blocks  

If you commute to work or have other daily destinations that aren’t within walking distance, try parking farther away and walking the last 5-10 blocks. In some cities, this simple practice may even save you money (and time) on parking. 

Similarly, if a number of your errands are in the same general area, try parking centrally and taking care of them on foot.

Get a Bike!

Biking is a better option if you’re pressed for time (or just love the feel of gliding along with wind on your skin like we do), but it does require some planning and investment. Here’s how to get started.

We have to admit: e-bikes are getting pretty stylish these days...(this one's from VanMoof)

  1. Get a bike that works well and is a pleasure to ride. Don’t worry about getting a top-of-the-line bike right away—but keep in mind that not all bikes are created equal in terms of comfort and functionality, so it’s worth it to find one that you’re excited to ride. People that work at bike shops are generally bike-nuts and will almost always be stoked to give you advice to get started bike commuting, including finding the best bike in your price range.

    And if you already have a bike, but it hasn’t been tuned up in a whiledefinitely get this done. It’s amazing how much a tune up can improve the experience of riding.

  2. Longer commute?  Consider an E-bike. The e-bike category has come a long way in the last few years. The top-end e-bikes are lighter (and cooler) than ever, and the entry-level e-bikes are more reliable and affordable than ever. And more importantly, they’re making it possible for more people to start bike commuting. 

    E-bikes are not the same as electric scooters. They generally have “pedal assist” power, meaning you do still have to pedal to get movingjust not so much that you’re going to break a sweat if you don’t want to. You get to hum along at up to 20mph with only light efforta pretty cool feeling!  In our estimation, this is 95% as good as riding a normal bikeyou still get fresh air and a workout (albeit, less of one)and longer trips become possible for even the most novice cyclist.

  3. Investigate the best bike routes in your city. Almost any city can be bike friendly with some good route planning, but note that the best bike route to a given destination is almost certainly NOT the best car route.  The bike route option on Google Maps is a pretty good tool in most cities for finding bike paths and streets with bike lanes (or less trafficked streets when the former are not available).

  4. Get a good helmet and lights.  Safety is important both practically and psychologically. If you feel safe and seen on the roads, riding is more likely to be a pleasure. Don’t hesitate to use a flashing tail light in daytime for even better visibility! Again, the bike-nuts working at your local shop will be more than happy to help select a helmet and lights that fit your use-case and budget.

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