My unexpected lesson in getting a non-cyclist to ride
Today we welcome back guest Blogger Kelly Morphy, a Florida-based advocate for healthy communities and an “aging athlete” who serves as Community Engagement Manager for the Love to Ride Florida Challenge.
I set out this week to learn how best to encourage a non-rider or infrequent cyclist to get on a bike.
“Hey, Mom, do you have a minute to chat?” I asked by phone. “I want to know what I can do to get you to go for a bike ride this afternoon.”
Mom: Somehow cancel all the work. QuickBooks, yard work, housework.
Completely human, normal reasons to balk at bicycling, totally understandable.
“How about tomorrow morning?”
Mom: An aching hip, a flat tire, a busy intersection to cross.
Completely human, again, especially at 72-years old.
Gear shift: “Mom, I want to know about your childhood. Did you ride a bike?”
When she was about 10, my mom shared (and now with a little more enthusiasm), she lived in a very rural area. There weren’t sidewalks and her ‘neighborhood’ friends were more than a mile away. “We could walk,” she said, “but biking was faster.”
She was given an adult-sized bike, “And there was no practicing. We just started riding bikes to get to our friends’ houses. It was hilly – no flat stretch – just up or down. There wasn’t much traffic, so we biked in the road. My brothers had paper routes and delivered their papers by bike, too.”
(#TBT. I hadn’t heard the phrase “paper route” in years.)
My mom went on to say that she didn’t worry about her bike being stolen back then, but if she was to ride now, she feels she’d have more concerns. Nonetheless, she said bicycling is better for the environment and better for physical health than driving everywhere. She talked about how she might be able to ride to the store that’s a few blocks away if she gave it a shot.
“Actually, now you’ve got me thinking: do you want to schedule a bike ride together? I’d like to see how my hip feels, whether biking will aggravate it or make it better.”
WELL, HOT DARN!
“I wanted to learn what I could say to entice a non-cyclist to hop on a bike. What I found is that sometimes, you need to just LISTEN.“
I’m going to load my bikes and helmets Saturday morning, pick her up and head to the West Orange Trail. The ride will be short: I’m rehabbing a bad ankle, and it will be her first ride on two wheels in years … no, decades. We will sign her in at www.lovetoride.net/florida to log her ride.
Nice and easy, we will go, with her perhaps reminiscing about biking as a kid and me most certainly cherishing biking with my mom as an adult.
I’ll also take the time to reflect on what happened during that phone call with her: I’d set out to learn what I could say to entice a non-cyclist to hop on a bike. What I learned is that sometimes, you need to just LISTEN.
· Recommendations for new riders: https://www.lovetoride.net/florida/pages/info?locale=en-US&page=3_new
· Tips for all riders: https://www.lovetoride.net/florida/pages/info?locale=en-US&page=3_tips
· Bike rentals are available at commercial locations throughout Florida, with costs as low as $8 for an hour or $30 for a day.
What’s your cycling story? Is it in the Messenger? Our quarterly Messenger newsletter is available online for your internet reading pleasure, just visit the FBA website Home page . Want a hard copy of our Messenger? FBA members have the Messenger delivered to their door every quarter. Join Florida Bicycle Association or visit one of our bicycle shop members to pick up a copy and use the membership form inside to join!