50 Ways to leave your car

Photo by Jay Madden

Photo by Jay Madden

In the weeks of summer that we have left, we'd like to make another push to encourage everyone to get out there, get moving, get rid of some stress, and make your corner of the world a little more livable.

Ride a bike.

Many people think bike commuting is for the dedicated few. Maybe you don't want to commit to that type of lifestyle. Maybe riding a bike doesn't fit in your daily schedule. Or maybe you're not sure if you'll like it. At least not all the time.

That's OK. Biking doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You can use your bike when convenient and enjoyable, and still use the car when you really need it. You may find that when you take that approach, biking will become your preferred transportation alternative.

I've compiled 50 ways you can incorporate biking into your life, even if it is car centered. Try one, try them all:

  1. Ride anywhere within two miles (or one, or three -- you set the limit): grocery, post office, library, coffee shop, friend's house, beach or pool, etc.

  2. Take you child to camp, program or school.

  3. Ride to work in nice weather.

  4. Ride to the train if your commute is long.

  5. Ride to work on casual Friday.

  6. Pick one car-free day a week, and do all your getting around by bike.

  7. Teach your kids the rules of the road by bike.

  8. Work at home? Ride your bike out to lunch.

  9. Run all your weekend errands by bike.

  10. Do your recycling by bike.

  11. Ride to your kids' games by bike.

  12. Take the kids to the park by bike.

  13. Bike to your workout.

  14. Skip your workout and ride your bike instead.

  15. Ride a bike when you go out to eat with your spouse or significant other (enjoy guilt-free dessert!)

  16. Bike to the movies.

  17. Bike to get bagels for your Sunday brunch.

  18. Visiting open houses? Ride a bike.

  19. Ride a bike to garage sales (bring baskets or a trailer!)

  20. Ride a bike to the farmers market (ditto.)

  21. New mom? Get a baby seat and ride off the baby weight (baby has to be able to sit unassisted).

  22. Traffic averse? Figure out places you can ride without going on a major thoroughfare.

  23. Ride to you hair appointment (plan on your new hairstyle getting squished under a helmet).

  24. Use your bike to get home after you've dropped your car off for maintenance.

  25. Ride to the Lake (there are many ways to do this while avoiding major streets).

  26. Out of cream for the morning coffee? Take a quick ride to the store.

  27. Bike to neighborhood and arts festivals.

  28. Explore some of Chicagoland's bike paths and trails.

  29. Get a group of friends and explore ethnic food by bike. Or neighborhood architecture.

  30. Try a social ride to meet new people.

  31. Get a buddy and commit to doing some biking together.

  32. Pick an errand you usually do by car, and switch to biking.

  33. Commit to a number of miles to ride each week or month.

  34. Show your kids it's possible to get places without a car.

  35. Ride to a natural area, then relax and enjoy your surroundings.

  36. Park your car along the bike path, and ride bikes to Navy Pier, museums and other downtown attractions.

  37. Park your car along the bike path, and ride to the Botanic Garden.

  38. Ride your bike to an evening class or workshop.

  39. If you participate in community gardening, ride your bike there.

  40. Never learned to bike? Consider an adult tricycle. Or talk to Cosmic Bikes about setting up and adult balance bike.

  41. Looking for a new home? Get a friend, and explore new neighborhoods by bike.

  42. Ride a bike to get ice cream or other indulgences.

  43. Combine biking and walking: bike to a shopping area or other attractions, lock you bike, and continue on foot (more on that here).

  44. Keep your bike accessible, so you can get on at a moment's notice.

  45. Keep a pump handy, in case your tires get a little soft.

  46. Keep all your bike gear in one place to avoid running around at the last minute.

  47. Carry a backpack in case you find anything you want to carry home with you.

  48. Stash a packable windbreaker in case the weather turns cool.

  49. Carry a little cash for emergencies.

  50. Learn some basic things about your bike, so you don't have to depend on others: how to lock up, how to fill the tires, how to remove front wheel.