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Carfree commuting advice from a local expert

May 20th, 2022

Not only is May recognized at National Bike Month, but the third Friday each May marks National Bike to Work Day! If you are interested in learning more about carfree commuting, we partnered with local cycling influencer Mary McGowan — known as "rebelwithoutacar" on Instagram and Youtube — to answer several frequently asked questions.

How do you prepare for inclement weather? 

This is probably my most frequently asked question! The first thing I want to say is get a good weather app. My favorite is "Dark Sky" and it is hugely helpful for being prepared.

And then no matter what the weather report says, you want to be prepared for instances of bad weather because there's not really bad weather, there's just bad gear. I keep my extra stuff in my bike commuting bag, which has rain gear itself. 

When it's not summertime, I'll keep things like gloves or an extra layer in my bag. Now that it's summer, I want to make sure I have a poncho in my bag.

What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started bike commuting?

I wish I had known how to use public transit!

I sold my car before I finished grad school and got a real "grown up" job. That job was in Mauldin so I had to out of necessity use the GreenLink bus to get myself part of the way there and bike the rest of the way. That experience was actually very empowering and made me feel even more confident in my decision. I wish I had done it sooner!

What advice do you have for parents who are interested in riding to daycare, school, and/or work?

First, I will defer to Maddy (@cargobikemomma on Instagram) and Melissa (@deliberate.less on Instagram) because they are living this life and they definitely know best!

If I was trying this myself, I would be looking at cargo e-bikes (electric bicycles). I would say to start small with trips to the park or the library. And I would also experiment with my route and probably do that alone first.

How can Upstate residents advocate for alternative transportation options in their communities?

Follow these organizations:

What’s one unexpected piece of cycling gear you couldn’t live without?

I'm going to go ahead and admit that it's not really cycling gear, but it's my battery pack for charging on the go. My e-bike is awesome but it does not charge my phone!

Mary moved to Greenville, SC in 2014 and has been a full time bike commuter since 2015. She works as a speech-language pathologist for Greenville County Schools and volunteers as board chair of Bike Walk Greenville and a board member of Palmetto Cycling Coalition. During her summers off, she enjoys bikepacking to new places and sharing about her carfree lifestyle on Instagram and Youtube as '@rebelwithoutacar'. 

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