Monday, February 05, 2007

How to Get Off Your "Would But"
and Start Doing Something

I Would But . . .

You know you should do it (whatever green thing “it” is) and you would but, well this thing and that thing and the other thing really make it impossible for you to do right now.

Welcome to Stage One Denial.

I’ve been there; every time I stop doing some green thing for awhile, I go through it again to get started. Breaking through Stage One Denial -- the "would-buts" -- is the hardest part of doing the green thing, at least sometimes.

An Example: Bike to Work Day, Just Today.

Take, for example, the green goal of riding a bike to work. Last summer I rode nearly every day to work. It was hot, but bearable. I got to wear summer clothes to work (shorts, polo shirt) so it was a fairly comfortable bike drive.

But the fact that I had to carry a laptop to work every day changed the ride. I was nervous carrying it unpadded in a backpack. (The computer case I had weighed a great deal, so I did not want to carry it on the bike.) And the backpack made me really hot. Although I rode most days in the summer anyway, the laptop-in-the-backpack became my “would-but” for the fall semester.

In the fall semester, without a way to carry my laptop conveniently, I rode a car to work every day. I would have driven my bike, but carrying the laptop was a problem. See how this works?

Over Christmas I received a really cool Jandd pannier bag. Folds up to look like a canvas briefcase, has a padded holder for a laptop, and a built in waterproof cover(!)

This week, my laptop and I drove a bike to work every day.

How about you?

What’s your bike-riding “would-but?”

For most of us it is one of these top ten:

1. “I don’t have a bike.”
2. “I have a bike, but I haven’t ridden it in years.”
3. “I’m scared of the cars.”
4. “I have to work in dress clothes, like a suit or high heels.”
5. “I work too far away.”
6. “I have to carry stuff to work.”
7. “I have kids to pick up.”
8. “The weather is too severe.”
9. “There is nowhere to park a bike when I get there.”
10. “I have bad knees/back/balance and can’t ride.”

I have used at least seven, maybe seven and a half of these personally.

We’ll deal with these Top Ten Would-But excuses in future posts. For the moment it is enough to recognize a "would but" excuse for what it is – a temporary obstacle to be overcome. And once overcome, most of these would-buts seem terribly insubstantial.

In general, though, the top suggestions for more bike driving are to get a good used cruiser bike if you don’t own one (try for a potential free bike!), or clean yours off and get it out of the garage! Drive your bike on weekends from time to time to get back in the groove; find a “Road Cycling” course online to help you understand and deal with the driving a bike instead of a car for transportation -- versus riding a bike for fun only.


COMING SOON: Puncturing the First Five "Would But" Excuses . . . .


Anonymous said...

How about the excuse that my job is on the other side of 4.5 miles of water from my house? Is that a good enough excuse to take public transit instead of a bike? :-)

Seriously, my real excuse is that I'm afraid of bikes. No, I can't ride to work, but I could ride everywhere else. What's the best way to get over the fear of riding in traffic?


Leah said...

I studied abroad in the Netherlands during college. I was there from Jan -> May, so the weather wasn't entirely pleasant. I sat in a car perhaps four times during those five months. I found riding to be fun once I got into it and reached a decent fitness level.

Additionally, I can't tell you the number of women I saw who biked around in mini-skirts and heels. The key is to bike enough to be fit enough that you don't sweat gallons on your trip.