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C limate change fitness and the price of gas are good reasons to transition from car to bike but the best reason is that using a bike for commuting or errands is infinitely more pleasant. When you ride you have the breeze in your face and you notice all kinds of thingsfrom lawn art to sprouting crocusesyou miss from behind a windshield. You feel connected to pedestrians and playing children and you arrive at your destination with no parking hassles your blood full of oxygen. Studies by the British New Economic Foundation reveal that cyclists find their mode of transport at least as flexible and convenient as those who use cars with lower stress and greater feelings of freedom relaxation and excitement. The trick is training yourself to reach first for the bike helmet instead of the car keys. Doing so is largely a matter of challenging your assumptions about how life has to be organized. Think you dont have time to get around by bike For trips of three miles or less riding is about as quick as driving because side streets and paths through parks make it easier to avoid stoplights and you can zip right past traffic. The workout youll get around town on a bike might even save you a trip to the gym. You may not be able to buy a weeks worth of changing habitsTraining yourself to travel via two wheels instead of four By Dan Baum groceries and pick up the dry cleaning all in one bike trip but that can be a good thing. When life slows to the speed of a bike you dont try to do too many things at once. To make the leap from car to bike dont demand too much of yourself. Your job may be too far to bike to but what about your local supermarket the hardware store the movie theater or the post office Instead of hitting these places while driving home from work try going home first and getting the bike its a great way to unwind and move your body after sitting all day. Put your helmet where you usually leave your keys so as you reach you can ask yourself Could I do this on a bike Its a matter of developing the habit and studies show that its never too late to break old ones and develop new ones. The Society for Personality and Social Psychology has found that it takes from 15 to 254 days to develop a new habit and that its easier if you use a natural disruption in your lifemoving a new job a vacationto change one habit to another because the cues on which your habitual behavior relied disappear. Even a small change presents an opportunity. Youll need of course a bike that youll be comfortable riding. It doesnt have to be brand new or cost a lot but it should fit you and be in good shape. Your local bike shop can help. Your local shop can also help you with the extras a rack to hold either baskets or panniers to carry things a good lock a helmet lights for front and back and for wet streets fenders. I got creative and zip-tied a seven-dollar lockable tackle box to my rack so I have a secure place to keep lights tools a spare tube a reflective windbreaker and a credit card. Once equipped start exploring alternatives to the big fast roads. Side streets parks schoolyards and alleys are a parallel universe that you may never have seen before and they can get you across town with surprising speed. Start slow. Choose nice days. Do one errand at a time. Its a head shift as much as anything to switch from car to bike. But its worth it. Dan Baum is the author of four books and was a staff writer for The New Yorker. He and his wife Meg enjoy biking and use bike share to explore a city whenever they can. ask yourself Could I do this on a bike IllustrationbyMikeReisel 46 BIKELIFE BOULDER COUNTY THE FINAL MILE