Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sounding out the Bell for Bicycling

Recently A Green Spell posted about her struggles and adventures as a bicyclist. After a year of wishing and dreaming about how "green" I would be *ifIjusthadabike*, I finally have joined the bicyclist club. Am I biking? Nope.

First off, why do I feel that bicycling is an important step in my earth-friendly yogic lifestyle.

At this point in our society we can safely say that oil-gas reliance is going to be increasingly difficult. Peak Oil, the point where we slowly (or quickly) run out of oil-gas resources, if it already hasn't, is arriving. Decreasing our consumption of an energy source that is finite is a necessity- we won't have a choice at one point. Therefore, the more I'm used to using alternative means of transportation (like walking and bicycling) the easier it will be.

After the most recent oil spill disaster, our addiction to oil is damaging our planet and our health. Every time we use our cars, our oil power sources, plastic we are eroding the air we breathe and our most important water source: the ocean. 

Every time I step on my mat to practice yoga, I thank the Goddess for my health, my family and dedicate my practice to enhancing my connection with each link in our cycle. There is no way I could spend all this time recognizing and validating our interconnectedness and turn around in the next moment and damage this very circle.

So why am I not biking ALL the time?

One huge reason: the weather. It's been cold, rainy and chilly most every evening these past few weeks. Instead of hopping on our bikes to go to the coffee shop or get groceries, we're chickening out and taking the car.

Yoga in the Park last night at our new location and you guessed it- we drove
Another reason is the shear amount of time it actually takes to bike around Halifax. We avoid main routes due to traffic. Andrew and I are both unwilling to risk our lives just to get to a coffee shop- Halifax isn't the most bicycle friendly city, cars drive and park in the bike only lanes. So we take quieter roads, which results in a 45 minute bike ride just to get to the park. I'm sure with practice we'll find better routes... but riding our bikes requires time and planning.

Finally, I still don't have a basket for my bicycle. I have a basket rack, which is a step and it was quite flattering to see all the Bikes by Dave people drooling over my vintage beauty... However, I kinda need a basket to carry stuff (like groceries) and I really don't feel like spending a ton of money. Ideas?

Obviously these are excuses, we need an ACTION PLAN for bicycling. I'm also hoping that maybe our awesome bloggy-community can help support each other in our adventure at changing our habits and our lives.

Lisa and Andrew's Bicycling Action Plan 2010:
  • Find a basket. This is essential.
  • Map out regular bicycling routes in advance, print them out and have them ready for perusal at any given date. This way, when we want to go biking, the route will be already planned out.
  • Plan to bike at least once a weekend. This will decrease overwhelming feeling of needing to bike ALL the time, and allow for practice!
  • Attend a Critical Mass in Halifax. Cuz it's cool.
  • Get a really COOL bell:
    • DringDring bells are made in Montreal, hand painted using non-toxic solvents and water based paints and are NOT plastic!! I want one. (image from dringdring site)
Any other ideas for our biking plan? Suggestions for this wimpy, wannabe biker?

**UPDATE: Thanks to Environmental Soul for pointing out this ridiculously awesome Bicycling resource: "An Adventure Called Bicycling". This woman is AWESOME and I ADORE her videos on bicycle safety (especially that she put Daft Punk in there!) Her tips on Commuter Biking are also great. Seriously, go check it out!


article and photograph (unless otherwise noted) copyright EcoYogini at


  1. I love cycling and I try to get out as much as I can. I love the reasons you have for cycling. Just go every chance that you have!
    If I could bike to work and yoga that would make me so happy, but unfortunately I need to drive. Thanks for giving me a little bit more motivation to get on my bike!

  2. sadly i have not been biking either. my reasons include boyfriend who is lazy lately and not wanting to bike on the weekends...the daunting prospect of an hour+ commute by bike to work...and we are moving to a new office in a week that won't allow bikes wtf!!

    until you get a basket you can use a backpack...that's what i always did. i think this is my basket no idea how much it cost, it was a gift from the bf for my birthday. maybe you can look on craigslist or freecycle for a basket?

  3. Any chance you can just ditch the car? Going carless was the best thing we ever did. I cycle between 6 and 10 miles a day with a yoga mat on my back and blocks in my basket because I have too. Even if it snows... I know it's a huge step and isn't for everyone, but it does work!

  4. You should check out the blog An Adventure Called Bicycling. Her blog makes me want to bike more than I do.

    I also live in a not so bike friendly city. I usually stick to the sidewalks. After a few months you start to get more comfotable and more daring.

  5. from a former car girl who's now a bike grrl...

    * baskets can be found super cheap but you can make your own 'bike bucket' - check out:

    * planet bike makes SO many inexpensive bike items - every bike shop and even places like target and the like sell baskets that easily attached to the rack on the back (easier than attaching to the front, trust me)

    * aosom makes inexpensive bike trailers for bigger loads - i got mine for $100 (the burleys that people haul their kids around in are $200-400) and mine has a cover and is more 'cargo' compatible

    * start riding the regular streets - not highways or fast speed boulevards, but get with a group and start riding regularly so people are used to seeing bikes and therefore start making accommodations

    * get involved in the community with other like minded citizens and press for more bike friendly roads. seriously, that's the only way to make a difference is to do this, rather than just wish your city was different. the only way to affect change is to be the change. that's how portland is the way it is now :)

    * get rain gear - not fancy expensive bike stuff but a warm waterproof jacket and wear shoes you're not afraid of getting splattered. remember, you will be SO warm once you start riding that you don't realize it's cold.

    you can DOOOO it ;)

  6. I've been taking my bike to work a lot the last few weeks, but I'm lucky that it actually shaves 20 minutes off my commute. I don't actually use it much otherwise. I really like testing out routes when it's quiet and deserted before doing it for real. My boyfriend, on the other hand, will just jump in and take it to the store with no warning!

    As for advice: My friends recommended that I get a front basket, because you can actually keep an eye on your stuff. Google Maps showed me a great shortcut that cut out a lot of traffic. And I just got a bike pump and realized that my tires had deflated a lot over the last couple weeks. I coast so much better now.

  7. Really, the best thing in terms of finding routes and safer places to bike is to get out and explore. Go with no agenda - just go and take every road that appears and see where it goes.

    I learned more about our sister city of Minneapolis on my bike during the course of two summers than I had during my entire life previous being on buses or in cars.

  8. Coming from Holland, I have cycled all my life.(needless to say, I don't have a driver license) In NYC where I live, the local government is doing more and more for us, bike riders, it is just very hard to get (car)drivers to adjust to sharing the streets, I have seen some horrific accidents, just be always aware on the road. Good luck, nothing better than riding your bike, knowing you are being aware of the environment and your health.

  9. First of all I LOOOOOVE your blog.
    I too am Haligonian and enjoy your posts so much!Thanks for having a blog-you rock :)

    I don't make much money and am not that fit but always thought I should get a bike for work, groceries etc.

    I have a bunch of fears though
    1) getting in an accident!(Halifax!!)
    2)bike etc being stolen(hear it happens all the does one truly secure it to go into stores, yoga etc etc?)
    3) cost....'nuff said!
    4) lack of knowledge/repairs/rules of road
    5) embarassed to have my pudgy self on a bike with my big butt in drivers faces-ugh!
    6)not wanting to be sweaty/stinky upon arrival at work in summer, lack of place to store bike at work
    7)general FEAR!

    Hoping your continued posts about this will encourage and educate me!

    Thanks again for being you !!

  10. Have fun biking! That picture from yoga in the park is stunning. Don't be too hard on yourself - it's okay to take baby steps. : )

  11. ironically my hub just this week on tuesday told me "uh babe i bought a bike'll be here on friday." amazingly he already took it out on friday for a ride even by himself (this is amazing cause he bought one since his buddies are all getting into biking for exercise). idk that he'll be using it for actual transport here since those 100 degree summer days don't really leave one wanting to commute to work in a bike in a hot army uniform. but maybe he'll use it to commute and for fun back in oregon. don't beat yourself up too much about driving---you're doing what you can and more than most!

  12. Here's a tip re: the weather - get cold weather gear.

    I found that some of my ski gear could be re-used for cycling, like my merino wool balaclava for when it's REALLY cold, and/or a neck warmer. Warm winter cycling gloves are a must for colder days, and so is a waterproof jacket and layers of clothing.

    Here in Melbourne where I live, winters get pretty cold (but probably not as cold as Canada!) and I've found it's still possible to ride places on my bike as long as I'm prepared with stuff that's going to keep me warm and dry.

    Good luck!

  13. Hey Everyone, thank you very much for your suggestions and tips so far!!

    @Chris- yep Sunrise studio is TOO far for me, biking on the bridge?? No thank yoU! lol :)

    @Julia: seriously, no bikes allowed at work? wow. well- an hour bike ride is also quite a long stretch. Thanks for the basket link!

    @Rachel: ohhh... well we did get rid of Andrew's car before we moved back to Halifax from BC. So that's half the cars lol. unfortunately a car is almost necessary in Halifax- although there IS carshare

    @Environmental Soul- wow thanks for the An Adventure in Bicycling blog, very cool!!

    @EcoGrrl: love you suggestions- you're right of course. Critical Mass here we come!

    @Brenda: yes, we need a tire pump. I'm not sure about the front basket, since I already installed a back basket rack deal.... i guess i could just unscrew it?

    @Nathan: you're very right about seeing the city. We went for a short ride to Local Source today and it was beautiful.
    I am, however, too type A to enjoy a "sans direction" ride.... lol

    @Anonymous: I read about all these bike friendly cities and am envious- so cool!

    @Anonymous Haligonian: YAY! So glad you like my blog :) Welcome!!
    I totally feel like a complete dork every time I ride my bike... so no worries you are not alone!
    You can get a really cheap bike on Kijiji for sure- like 20-30$, it'll be previously loved. :)

    I haven't quite figured out what to do while in a store- today while at Local Source, they had no space to lock up our bikes, (LAME) so Andrew had to stand outside and wait with them.

    If you have a really cheap bike, no one will want to steal it (hopefully).

    You should come to Yoga in the Park with us on Saturdays- we're all normal folk- it's UBER casual and laid back. Non-strong and non-stretchy people are very welcome :) check out for details!

    @Jamie: Thank yoU! it was beautiful yesterday...

    @Simply Authentic: fantastic! yes, i would figure that bicycling in hot weather in a uniform wouldn't be fun. Will you post pictures of the new purchase? :)

    @svasti: thank you for the tips! Today Andrew complained of cold hands, so yes gloves are a must! I probably won't bike in the winter- trying to bike in snow and slush would be a bit scary (although I did see people do that this winter!).

  14. I really enjoy cycling but Diego doesn't have a bike...and he is not as enthusiastic as I. One of the major issues for him is that it takes time to get have a big bulky bike to lock up and what if it rains and you don't have your rain gear...a definite possibility in Halifax. Also, being all sweaty for work or dinner...not fun. So instead we got our kick scooters! They are super easy, quick to fold up, yes they are some work BUT I don't get as sweaty as a we could easily jump on the bus if it rains! Disadvantages...not the best for going to the market or larger grocery events. Although, I have been using ti to go to yoga and run a number of errands already. I do love it! :) Who knows, maybe the bike will make an appearance this rummer for the larger errands!

    PS. I love the dringdring! You should totally get one! :)

  15. Hey Lisa,

    I got my bike basket at Canadian Tire. It's not a reused item, and it comes wrapped in plastic, but it's made out of wire and should last. It's pretty big too. On the website it's named "Super Cycle Front Wire Basket" and it's black. It's $25.

    I saw someone's bike in the parking garage a week or two ago with a rear rack with a milk crate on it! Thought of you. :) Hopefully it warms up so we can start biking!!


  16. I'm really excited about this! Yay for the biking club, ha ha!

    I have noticed just in the past week that I am automatically thinking of walking and biking BEFORE I assume I'll be driving anywhere. My mindset is already changing, and I'm thrilled about that.

    The weather has been fabulous, too, which is really nice - makes it so easy to bike!

    I'm starting to Google Map everything to help me find routes and see how far it is (will I walk or bicycle?).

    I'm lucky that in my little town, I'm okay biking anywhere, and walking when I get to the really busy areas. Though I'm still considering getting a scooter for my downtown errands.

    Our local grocery stores have metal and wood baskets for $15. I need to get one, too. I almost want to get a wagon for shopping trips when I buy big items. I'll end up being the Wagon Lady! ;)

    Just biked my errands yesterday and all went well. I'm learning to leave earlier so I can relax on my rides and always get to where I need to be a little early.

    I'm loving it!

  17. Denver is probably considered a fairly bike-friendly city (with bike routes and such), but there are too many accidents between bicycles and cars. I bought a bike two years ago, and I love it, but riding on busy streets scares me. I end up going way out of my way (which often is okay) and riding on sidewalks, which I know is not especially appreciated by others. But it's so great to see the city from a bike (or walking) perspective - I feel like I know Denver much better now.

    Good luck with your action plan - I know you will be successful!! You have inspired me to try to ramp up my bicycle use as well.

  18. I'm trying to bike more too, especially since the wonderful husband got me a cruiser bike! It is super easy from house to office. But, not as easy from office/house to yoga studio or gym. Plus, I'm terrified of traffic and I'm not really that handy! But, it was nice to read about some one else's struggles with biking. Not nice that you're struggling :D but nice to know it isn't just me!

  19. I've been biking all the time and goddam do my legs thing about biking and the yogic lifestyle, is that yoga is really good for fact, I don't think I'd be able to bike like I do were it not for yoga...but the other way around? I'd probably have much looser hamstrings without the biking...then, I'd also be a lot fatter...and, yeah, it takes the whole destroying the planet aspect out of getting to and from yoga it's all good...even if it doesn't feel that way just at the moment...yeaouch...

  20. I don't have a basket and I don't plan to get one, as I ride a mountain bike... but I use it for groceries, etc. I just take a backpack! And really, you just have to get out and ride. I started riding to even really close destinations to get used to riding and it's getting better. You have to start somewhere! Kudos for getting on a bike :)

  21. I'm late commenting on this post but I just had to add a few things:) We are car free in Halifax. We do have access to a couple of vehicles but they are not ours and not always available. We do use one regularly once a week to go to the farmers' market but that is our only regular car use. I find Halifax an easy city to get around by bicycle, it's so small, everything is close. As for getting over to Dartmouth (I don't know where sunrise yoga is) you can take your bike on the ferry instead of crossing the bridge.
    I have biked to local source, you just have to lock your bike up a little farther away, there are poles etc. on agricola st. There aren't that many days in Halifax that are very slushy or icy/snowy etc. I walk or take the bus on those days, my dh bikes almost every day all year around. I consider my bike to be transportation, biking is not a recreational sport for me.
    Each time you do ride your bike, it makes it easier to do it more. Good luck.

  22. I wanted to give one more piece of "advice" from a complete newbie at commuting... I got a rearview mirror for my left handlebar and it has made SUCH a difference! It makes changing lanes for left hand turns much less scary, and I can also keep an eye on traffic coming up behind me. I've also noticed that when I use my back red light cars slow down A LOT which is great!

  23. Used milk crates will make a great basket- all you need is some zip ties!


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