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Lessons from a Year of Biking More and Driving Less

Written By: Dirk de Marelle and Linda Devisch,dilistuff.com

This is Part Three in a series by Dirk and Linda on their journey to bike more and drive less.
Read Part Oneand Part Two

We started our challenge sometime in March 2021, when Covid and the resulting regulations were disrupting most of normal live. This in fact made our start a lot easier as non-essential travel or shopping was very much restricted, restaurants and entertainment spots were all closed, even visiting friends was difficult as there were restrictions on how many different people you could meet, etc. In other words, there were not many reasons to get in your car.

From the start, we were able to limit driving our car to an average of once a week and this mainly when we needed to do long distances or when we went somewhere with our mothers. We are living in an urban area and most of our daily shopping can be done by bicycle. With the Burley Flatbed, we were also able to do the more bulky shopping and transporting by bicycle. With our e-bikes, we were able to increase the distance that we now cycle instead of drive to an average of 50 km per trip.

During the first months, we kept a log of our car use but we stopped this a few months ago as “not using the car” became part of our life. We have no reason not to continue this healthier and more economical way of living.

There are many pitfalls that can keep you from biking more. The biggest one being that you probably have a car, readily available that makes it a lot easier and often faster for you to get you where you want to go. You need to realize that using your bicycle instead of your car probably requires more planning and most of all the conviction that it’s good for your health. While it’s also more economical, better for the climate, the environment, etc., this really will not make a difference if you have a car anyhow. Key is that you need to believe that using your bicycle as often as possible is much better than going to the gym or tennis court by car.

Having said the above, here are three of our most important things for cycling more often:

- A good bicycle, preferably one that does not require lots of maintenance. These days, you can buy bicycles with internal gearboxes, carbon belts, etc. This means that you just need to cycle and don’t have to worry about lubricating your chain or cleaning away the dirt.

- Good clothing, otherwise you will not cycle when it’s cold or when it’s raining. We did not really have to buy anything special for this as we already had sufficient outdoor stuff that is also perfect for cycling. If you do longer distances, it’s a good idea to also have cycle pants which you wear under your normal trousers.

- A trailer, in our case the Burley Flatbed. There are too many things which do not fit in panniers. Just think of taking garbage to the container park, getting a load of pizzas when you have unannounced visitors, stocking up on toilet paper, drink, laundry soap, etc. - The list of items that would otherwise give you reason to pull your car out of the garage is endless.

P.S. A note on e-bikes

Most e-bikes have different support levels and the lowest level usually only compensates for the fact that the e-bike is heavier than a normal bike. With an e-bike, you can still have a decent workout, but you can also use it to commute without sweating, help you to get over a big hill, or keep your speed when there’s a strong headwind.

Linda Devisch & Dirk De Marelle

Linda & Dirk started holidaying by bicycle about 15 years ago. They love the moderate adventure; they do not mind some effort but also like some luxury from time to time. Linda likes photography, cycling, knitting and healthy food. Dirk likes music, cycling and has no other option but to eat healthy food. They do not really plan their trips in detail, they know what direction they want to go, and the rest comes by itself.

@lindadevisch @dirkdemarelle

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