May 19th is Bike to Work Day! At SGA, we believe that bicycling is a great way to demonstrate behavior change. Remember when you were a kid and you first learned how to ride a bike? At first, you were scared: Don’t let me fall! Of course, you fell. But then you got back up because you were motivated: Learn to ride a bike by yourself. This whole process involved removing barriers, while promoting motivators. In essence, the steps needed to change behavior.
So how do you remove barriers to get people to bike more or to get them to change? Here are three wheely good ways to overcome barriers:
1) Remove the perceived danger of riding by making the experience positive. A short bike ride can:
- Break down old perceptions: hard and scary
- Create new perceptions: easy and fun
2) To overcome resistance, start with baby steps. Overcoming one small step of the task is easier than tackling the whole task at one time.
3) Make bicycling a social norm. Get beginners to team up with other bike riders. If they are the only person riding, it feels odd, but if they see more people doing it, the more normal it becomes.
While it’s important to overcome barriers, it’s also crucial to promote the motivators. We asked SGA staff what their motivations were to bike to work. Here’s what they said:
“I love riding my bike to work. I ride to work to help create a friendly biking culture in Long Beach. Our city has this big goal of being named as the most bike-friendly city in America. It’s up to us to make this dream happen.” Joy Contreras
“Biking to work makes me feel good, charges me with positivity, and allows me to enjoy the outside. I also want to show my daughter that cars aren’t the only way of transportation, especially for short distances.” Anya Liddiard
“I ride to get one less car off the road and a little bit less carbon going into the air. I ride 10 miles each way which gives me time to clear my mind and gets in my daily exercise in one fell swoop.” Stephen Groner
Changing behavior isn’t easy, but it can be done. Remember, change is like riding a bicycle. Hard at first, but easier as you practice.