Making the switch from driver to bike commuter can feel daunting. It requires a little more planning and a lot more physical exertion than just hopping into the car and driving to your destination. Of course, you don’t have to worry about finding and paying for parking once you arrive, there’s no such thing as an empty tank of gas, and the journey to and from your obligation often ends up being the best part of the experience.
Santa Cruz is a bike-friendly community (the League of American Cyclists awarded our city a gold medal, one of only 24 in the entire country!) making it a good place to try out urban cycling. We’ve put together 5 ways to add biking to your Santa Cruz lifestyle, including ideas for fun, easy outings that solo bikers and whole families can enjoy.
1) Set a weekly bike to work day
Ecology Action hosts a biannual Bike To Work Day, but what about the other 363 days a year? Naming one day a week as your bike to work day is an easily attainable goal for shorter commutes, especially here in Santa Cruz where the weather forecast’s default is cool and comfortable. Once you’ve chosen your day, remove all excuses for falling back on the car with a little extra preparation. Lay your clothes out the night before (you can even leave an extra change of clothes at the office if your ride gets you sweaty), know your route, plan how you’re going to transport lunch and other pertinent items, and wake up a little early to fit in your aerobic commute. (Also, remind yourself, biking is fun!)
If you have little ones that you drive to school every morning, consider biking with them on your way to work. Getting in some movement first thing in the morning can make a huge difference in your child’s mood and their performance in school.
2) Run one errand a week by bike
How far is your drive to the grocery store or pharmacy? Is there a safe route to get you there? Challenge yourself to find one weekly errand that’s doable by bike. Choose a task that has a safe, fun bike route and that doesn’t require you to haul more than you can manage. (That trip to the San Lorenzo Garden Center for potting soil? You can use the car for that.) Try grocery shopping at New Leaf Market by bike, ride to the library, or bike to your volunteer commitments.
3) Bike ride with a friend
Every week you meet your best friend for a drink to unwind and catch up over cocktails. Or maybe you always convene at The Ugly Mug in Soquel to vent over almond milk lattes. Whatever your social beverage of choice, what if you went for a bike ride together instead? Biking with friends is one of the best ways to get more comfortable riding around town. It’s fun, provides accountability if you need motivation to get on the saddle, and it’s a great way to break the ice with newer friendships.
4) Bike to the gym or the surf
Biking to the gym or yoga studio is a great way to warm up and burn some extra calories pre-workout. The best part is you don’t have to worry about working up a sweat because that’s the goal, right? For the swell chasers, consider attaching a board rack like Santa Cruz based company, Move By Bikes so you can safely pedal to your favorite surf spot.
5) Make Saturday or Sunday cycle day
Try making your Saturday or Sunday a local day that doesn’t require any driving–challenge yourself to walk or bike to all your destinations. We love a long bike ride along West Cliff with stops along the way to watch the surfers and, if we’re lucky, watch a pod of dolphins or even a breaching whale. No way you’d catch that while behind the wheel!
End your ride at the Saturday Westside Farmers Market and then pedal down the street to Natural Bridges to eat your market bounty on the sand. For a longer ride, continue along the bike path that parallels Highway 1 all the way to Wilder Ranch State Park. In the evening, take a romantic bike ride downtown with your sweetie for dinner and a movie or live music at Abbott Square. (#BikeToDateNight, anyone?)
Which weekly (or daily!) obligation will you turn into a biking adventure? Or will you make one day a week a car-free day? Share how you plan to make biking part of your Santa Cruz lifestyle or share what you’re doing already in the comments!