Small Steps

It’s spring, and there are many more bikes on the road. Others want to start biking. But changing to any new mode of transportation is a big lifestyle change and takes time. Just like learning to drive:

Baby Steps

When I finally started biking, it was intimidating because I didn’t know “how” to do it…. just like all the other things I found intimidating.

Baby Steps

But biking was one of those things I had to learn by doing.

Baby Steps

Over time I learned how to adapt my lifestyle.

Baby Steps

So if you are considering biking, you can’t change overnight. Break it down into small steps.

Baby Steps

Perhaps one day you’ll wonder how you ever got around without a bicycle.
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  • pedal-fu May 8, 2013   Reply →

    I love #5, my life everyday!

  • Steve May 8, 2013   Reply →

    You know what, that last panel is perfect. Fun, solid and practical advice. Thank as always for inspiration and comic relief.

  • anniebikes May 8, 2013   Reply →

    Thanks. This is very appropriate. I hope it inspires others to start gradually.

  • Megan Ramey May 8, 2013   Reply →

    Fabulous flow chart from beginner to daily commuter!

  • Si Frith May 8, 2013   Reply →

    Simply brilliant !

  • Alan (Uncle Robot) May 8, 2013   Reply →

    Bikeyface – You Bike! I thought of you the other day as I walked my bike home from Forest Hills with a flat tire. Almost every other biker – of the many many bikers that passed me – slowed and asked if I needed help. One guy even told me a trick – fold a dollar bill inside the tire casing if a blown tire was the problem rather than a tube. Bikers coming to each other’s aid might be a great next info-toon?

    • Howard Abts May 8, 2013  

      Uncle Robot-

      No one stopped to mend it for you? Oh, my. What’s up with that? I’m embarassed for my fellow bikers.

      Now that you know the technical term for a biker who rides without a pump and a patch kit (“Pedestrian”), I assume you’ll be making a trip to your LBS, yes no? When you do, save yourself a dollar or five: put a 2″ x 4″ or so piece of a tyvek envelope under the patches.

  • Scott Wagner May 8, 2013   Reply →

    Bikeyface nails it again! Somehow she always seems to be able to capture with images, concise words, and wit what we’re all thinking

  • Jon Webb May 8, 2013   Reply →

    It really is a long process, and it involves a lot of stages that you don’t even think or know about while you’re going through it. I started biking to work several years ago, and had to work out clothing etc. so I could bike through the winter — but that wasn’t the end of it. Last year, I figured out I could bike even when I was tired or didn’t get up early enough, by taking the bus in with my bike and riding home. At that point biking switched from something I do frequently to something I do all the time, to the extent that when I drive a car now (a few times a month) it feels strange to me and I have to be extra careful. But things keep changing even now. The frequent commuting has increased my fitness enough so a 200K randonneur is not really a problem anymore. And I completed a 600K race recently, then suddenly noticed I’m quite a bit faster now on my commute. I wonder where all this is going to end up.

  • 60 mph headwinds and blowing snow during a blizzard. My standard answer to “Did you ride your bike today?” now is, ‘Yeah, that’s how I get around”. Of if to say of course I rode my bike, what a silly questions. It’s like me asking someone who drives everywhere if they drove their car today. Duh!

    Reading this post helped me realized this is how I got to where I am. It took me five years of experimenting with equipment and clothing to ride in our extreme weather in Northern Minnesota. It didn’t happen overnight. I took the bus many rainy and snowy days before I figured it all out. Now I ride everywhere, everyday single day of the year. I’m panel #5 for sure now.

  • cycler May 8, 2013   Reply →

    After all, how will you get away from the Alien Zombies, if you’re not riding your bike?

  • h4x354x0r May 8, 2013   Reply →

    Yes! Absolutely love the last panel – simple, accurate, common-sense advice for cycling. I’ve been riding all my life (150K car miles displaced so far!), went through 1-4 when I was a kid, and have lived at “Love, Habit & Addiction” so long, I’m sometimes stumped when people ask me how to get there.

  • Lee Hollenbeck May 8, 2013   Reply →

    Small steps indeed. Nice work. Mine have gotten to big steps. 2 dedicated winter commuters, with studded tires and 2 fair weather commuters, plus 3 mountain bikes And a beach cruiser style tandem. My commute is 18 miles one way, 2-6 trips per week. I try to convince my suburban neighbors about biking to work. I tell them it is an hour by car, only 15 minutes longer by bike, and from Arlington center, I have bike paths the whole way to Brighton. They start to listen when I tell them about the gas savings of 2,000 miles per year.

  • Ryan May 8, 2013   Reply →

    Love it great set of panels

  • Or, as I put it (in my less helpful way): Bicycling and driving are both pains in the ass, it’s just that driving is the pain in the ass most people are used to. Once you are used to cycling, then driving as your main form of transportation starts to look like a huge pain in the ass you would never want again.

  • Tim May 8, 2013   Reply →

    wow…yet more brilliance…outstanding

    and I’m going to steal this 😉

  • Berlin commuter May 8, 2013   Reply →

    I’ve been commuting by bike since pre-school (in Germany), now I do it in Berlin every day. It is such a normal thing here… and always really funny to read US blogs like this or Share the Road Apparel. You make such a big fuzz out of the whole thing, with special gear, helmets and this adventurous air around it… 😉
    I really appreciate the effort to convince people of biking, but in my opinion you should try it in a way that doesn’t convey the impression of biking as extreme sports, but just what it is: a quick, cheap, independent (cool and sexy!) way of getting around ;)!

    • Tim May 8, 2013  

      Ah yes, was wondering when we would get a dose of finger wagging Euro lecturing. Unfortunately, in many parts of the US using a bicycle is an adventure. It’s our own fault and we didn’t screw up our transportation system overnight. And it won’t be fixed overnight. During the recent Dutch Bicycle Embassy visit to Austin, TX, one of the dutch engineers exclaimed “Austin cyclists are very brave.”

      And so what if we use bicycles not only as cheap and simple transportation, but a great way to have fun and explore?

      But your prescription is exactly the response I use when my non-bicycle friends and family gasp “you bike where!?!?” I often deflect their astonishment with some of my own…”you drive where?!?!”

  • Holly Ann May 8, 2013   Reply →


    So a friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and it really made me re-think biking and I wanted to say thank you. You see, I am TERRIFIED of bicycles (also power tools & sports). The funny part is, I know how to ride a bike. I can’t do fancy tricks, but I can hop on and ride down the street without falling over. I might even be able to turn (I don’t know, it’s been a long while).

    This post made me realize something else… I was also terrified by driving. Absolutely mind-shatteringly horrified. I got panic attacks far worse than I do while biking (and that is SAYING something). Blinding fear, pulling over to hyperventilate, crying, the whole nine yards. I experience a milder form of this when biking.

    Here’s the kicker: I got over it with cars. I mean, more or less. I still tense a little in the car when someone almost crashes into me, but I feel like that’s normal. I was an hour-each-way commuter over a dangerous mountain road for two years (Hwy 17 out of Santa Cruz, for anyone who’s familiar… it’s awful). I got used to it. Why? I had to. I lived at Point A and my work was at Point B.

    So this incredible wall of text is a thank you, for making me realize that maybe, just maybe, I could get over my fear of bikes too. ‘Cause I long to have emission-free transportation, at least around town. And I SO cannot afford an electric car (and the solar panels to power it without coal, and the carbon offsets to deal with the energy expended by producing solar panels…. you get my drift).

    I don’t currently own a bike (for obvious reasons), and I’m still nervous, but you’ve opened up the possibility for me again. Thank you.

    • ridonrides May 12, 2013  

      I hope to do the reverse. Driving is terrifying for me. Even being a passenger in a car, my heart races when someone cuts in front without signalling. Don’t get me wrong, it’s terrifying on bike, too, but happens less often. I hope I can overcome my fear of driving.

  • Ethan Fleming May 9, 2013   Reply →

    I’m already wondering how I ever lived without a bicycle.

  • Claire May 9, 2013   Reply →

    Another way to make a small step: multimodal transportation. A neighbor wanted to not drive to work and asked for advice. I suggested that she just ride as far as out to the arterial from our neighborhood – about a half mile. She could stick her bike on the express bus from there. She then could unload it at a freeway stop, and ride two more miles to the hospital where she worked.

    After she conquered that, she asked for more advice. I suggested that she ride from our neighborhood out to the transit center – a couple of miles away. Then she wouldn’t be dependent on a bus that came every half hour – she could take whatever came next. It turns out that this was faster, because it was more flexible.

    To ride all the way from our neighborhood to the hospital would be 20 miles – that’s probably more than anyone but the most dedicated bike commuter wants to take on. But bike/bus, adding a few more miles each time? Not daunting at all.

  • Elise May 9, 2013   Reply →

    I love this post. I just rode my bike to work for the first time today. I got to work fine and surprisingly faster than I expected. I heard that it is supposed to rain tonight, which I was not expecting :/ – it may be a wet ride home or I may be taking the bus. I NEED FENDERS!

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