Bicycle commuting

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chonp3
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Bicycle commuting

Post by chonp3 »

Does anybody commute or run errands via bike? I started in January commuting 17mi round trip 5 days a week. I've missed some days here and there, mostly during the unusually warm summer here in southern California. I've done some simple math and concluded I've saved over $500 on gas alone, but that is negated by the cost to fuel the extra 600 cals a day :). I often consider selling my car and relying only on the bike (no more car insurance!), but have a hard time pulling the trigger.
TheGreyingDuke
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

In 2001 my wife and I decided that we would both work part time. I was looking to see where we could cut some expenses and the second auto was an obvious target. We figure we would try it for a while and then decide.

I had about a 6 mile bike, steep down (2 miles), flat (2 miles), steep up (2 miles.) Same drill on the way home. We got going in September so I eased myself into the Vermont winter. I think that first winter I only missed three days (when the plows were clearing the roads on their first pass, blowing snow with no visibility, etc.) Got some good bags for my clothes, showered when I got to work, found myself really looking forward to the ride home at the end of the day. It was about 40 minutes each way, and it was my aerobic for the day. Driving, parking, walking to the entry was at least 15 minutes so did not add much time to my day.

Highly recommended!
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells
Wellfleet
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Wellfleet »

I did fairly avidly in Boston for 4 years. My advice is don't feel like you need to be militant about it. I used bike commuting to get in a great workout and brake up the tedium of public transit. I rarely rode in the rain and never in snow, just not for me. I cut back when first child was born due to exhaustion and just wanting to get to work and then go home. Still trying to find a way to bike to new job in less bike friendly area but haven't yet.

I'd advise getting 2 rear lights, one headlight and a bright yellow jacket from somewhere like Pearl Izumi. You also should try to find as safe a route as possible even if it's a little longer.
BBBob
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by BBBob »

I've been bicycle commuting 6 miles a day for about a year every day in Los Angeles (the silver lining of a drought). Gave up the car; no regrets...we just use my wife's when we go somewhere in the evening. Lots of money saved, including free parking in my office via the freight elevator, and it takes me the same amount of time as my car used to take, as i zip by the gridlocked vehicles. It has turned the worst part of my day into the best part. BTW, I bought a small side mirror that clips onto the left temple of my sunglasses; I find it to be a really important piece of equipment, and the cost was only about $10.
Last edited by BBBob on Thu Oct 15, 2015 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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happyisland
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by happyisland »

Down here in the Caribbean it would be do-able, but two things have put me off:

1) it seems way more dangerous than driving. There aren't designated bike lanes, and drivers are inattentive.

2) it's hot, and when I have biked to work I get there in a sweaty mess (even though the commute is only about 10 minutes). There's no shower, so this is pretty much a deal-breaker for me.

I do like the concept though, and would LOVE to get rid of one of our cars if it were possible.
skylar
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by skylar »

I've been commuting by bike for years. As long as you live reasonably close to work, it's not such a big deal and definitely saves lots of money and time. In fact, it can be the fastest way to commute; there's nothing I love more than cruising by stopped traffic in a wide-open bike lane (just be careful about getting right-hooked). I've never owned a car, and so far haven't really felt the need either.

I don't actually bike for many errands, though. Groceries are heavy enough that I can carry more in a backpack + cloth bags than in panniers. We have three grocery stores in easy walking distance, plus more just a quick bus ride away, so this isn't a big limitation.
autonomy
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by autonomy »

Wellfleet wrote:I did fairly avidly in Boston for 4 years. My advice is don't feel like you need to be militant about it. I used bike commuting to get in a great workout and brake up the tedium of public transit. I rarely rode in the rain and never in snow, just not for me. I cut back when first child was born due to exhaustion and just wanting to get to work and then go home. Still trying to find a way to bike to new job in less bike friendly area but haven't yet.

I'd advise getting 2 rear lights, one headlight and a bright yellow jacket from somewhere like Pearl Izumi. You also should try to find as safe a route as possible even if it's a little longer.
Good advice as I've gone through the same. My commute is only 5 miles one way, but I would get fairly tired by the end of the week (mostly because I pushed it really hard on the way home). Now with a baby, same story, I cut back, and it's a really nice way to break up the day, especially when traffic is very bad.
I compiled a log of what to wear down to 12F (at that point I just say screw it), which helps year over year. Worst days are pouring rain (footwear/socks gets wet) and when the bike path is iced over (then I use my MTB with knobby tires and run them very low at 20psi or so... if I did this often, I'd get studded tires). On the way in I pace myself to keep warm enough without starting to sweat - this way I don't need to take a shower.
BBBob wrote:BTW, I bought a small side mirror that clips onto the right temple of my sunglasses; I find it to be a really important piece of equipment, and the cost was only about $10.
Good advice as well, I got one and it has made a world of difference in knowing whether I'm going to be passed by someone, whether on bike or in a car (some cyclists like to tailgate too :annoyed )
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TimeRunner
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by TimeRunner »

My wife commuted 50 miles a day, 5 days a week, for a year before she burned out. I would take Weds PM off and ride up to her work and then ride home with her as my empathetic contribution. A daily bike commute is doable, but 25 miles each way is kinda hard-core. :)
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protagonist
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by protagonist »

chonp3 wrote:Does anybody commute or run errands via bike? I started in January commuting 17mi round trip 5 days a week. I've missed some days here and there, mostly during the unusually warm summer here in southern California. I've done some simple math and concluded I've saved over $500 on gas alone, but that is negated by the cost to fuel the extra 600 cals a day :). I often consider selling my car and relying only on the bike (no more car insurance!), but have a hard time pulling the trigger.
I only use my car for the following reasons:
- long trips
- if I am in a rush
- inclement weather
- too much to carry.

If you can do it practically, cycling makes sense on so many levels....physical conditioning, self-image, environmental impact, cost. We don't know enough about your situation to advise you regarding selling your car.
Alex Frakt
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Alex Frakt »

I live 2 miles from my office in the Chicago loop. I'll either walk in with my wife and ride a bike share bike (Divvy bike in Chicago) home or ride my bike both ways. Last year my son went to a kindergarten 5 miles from home, but about 3 miles from work. Every day I drove him to school, parked the car for free at a nearby Divvy bike stand and rode to work.

My son also did some bike commuting this summer. I don't let him ride on our streets yet, but he had day camps at the Field Museum and Lincoln Park Zoo which are just off the lakefront bike path. We rode together to camp and then I continued on to work.

It's fun. I look at bad weather as a challenge rather than a misery. If you get the clothes right, you can last through anything for this short of a ride. Regarding safety, I have bike lanes almost the whole way which helps. But you do need to be hyper alert at all times in city traffic. I do always wear something very high visibility. I've got a neon yellow/green rain jacket and a cycling jacket that converts to a vest. You can see people spotting me a long ways off and giving a bit of room or not pulling out of driveways in front of me.
MathWizard
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by MathWizard »

I tried, but the weather would either be rainy
too cold or I'd get sweaty, or work late and end up riding in the dark.

I gave it up because it seemed too dangerous for me.
Cunobelinus
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Cunobelinus »

For a couple of years, I biked about 22 miles round trip to work a few times a week. Definitely agree with the sentiment that any money saved on gas is spent on food. I was ravenously hungry any day I biked to work. I would ride slower on the way home and deliberately take side roads for the scenery and the lack of traffic; but on the way to work each morning, I took the most direct route.

I learned a little too late in the game that taking a longer, but safer, route to work is probably the best option. I used the fear of being crushed by a car as my motivation to sprint from traffic light to traffic light for a 3 mile stretch. Quite a workout. Usually I felt pretty unsafe once per week due to someone driving just a few feet from my rear tire, or cutting me off to hit their brakes, or pulling out in front of me. I made it a point to follow all traffic rules though, and I still (arrogantly) hate on the cyclists who run red lights or cut into the pedestrian cross-walk at red lights, or split the lanes to cut through traffic because I think that just engenders more hostility of the cagers (car drivers). There was only a bike lane for about 1/3 of my commute, and though the speed limit was 35 MPH the entire way, and I sprinted about 25-27MPH, it really bothered some people that there was a bicycle on the road... even if we ended up at the same traffic light each time.

I've ridden motorcycles as my primary means of transportation for almost 9 years now, and I definitely felt less safe riding a bicycle to work each day. Where I used to live, the weather was really nice 90% of the year, so that wasn't a concern of mine. Negligent or aggressive drivers were my primary concern on a bicycle, as I felt I didn't have the maneuverability or acceleration/stopping power that I had on a motorcycle. I also didn't have anything besides the mandex and a flimsy helmet protecting me in the event of a collision or an allision, whereas on a motorcycle I'd ride in armored pants, jacket, gloves, and a full-faced helmet. That also gave me some comfort from road rage or someone getting out of a car to come after me -- only happened twice in the past 9 years.

I also have a car (I know -- bicycle, motorcycle, and car -- I live in excess), but I used to drive it once or twice per month, primarily to keep it running and to meet people out in town for dinner. I still feel awkward walking around in riding gear (bicycle or motorcycle). The car is a nice thing to keep around, especially if you live somewhere where it snows.
SwampDonkey
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by SwampDonkey »

Just started a couple months ago and love it.
8 miles rountrip; some bike path, some sidewalk, some street.
Takes me about 20 minutes from door to door which is just as quick as my car on the best of car-commuting days.
My "Tipping Point" was spending 2.5 hrs in traffic to get home one afternoon (I live on Oahu).

I usually do a rotation of car, jog, and bike throughout the week. I drive in Monday morning so I can pack everything I need for the week in the car. I'll job home Monday evening; bike on Tue/Wed/Thu; jog to work on Friday and drive home Friday afternoon. It's not always this structured but you get the general idea.

I recently added a strobe light and iphone holder to the front handlebars, a kids seat behind my seat, and blinking red lights to the back of the kids seat and my helmet. I've found most of the highly rated bicycle accessories on Amazon can be found for >50% less on ebay (direct from overseas).
oragne lovre
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by oragne lovre »

I ride bicycle to run errands but cannot commute by bicycle yet; I wish there were bicyclist-friendly roads between home and workplace.
It's great to combine aerobic exercise with mundane daily chores.
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Kayaker55
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Kayaker55 »

My wife and I are a one car family and I bike 16 miles each way to work. For me, the only way to make it financially worth it was to sell a car and eliminate the fixed costs of car ownership. The bike, tires, clothing, etc (including an extra 1500 calories/day) were not significantly less than the marginal cost of driving a fuel efficient car. Eliminating insurances, registration, depreciation while simultaneously having an extra 10k in investments made the bike commute more financially attractive.
That being said, commuting by bike is difficult and I don't think that the dollars saved per day would be enough motivation for me to get on the bike for an hour in a cold rain. For me, I do it because I enjoy the ride and with a 1 yr old it's my only chance to consistently ride. I view it as a free 2 hr exercise that really only costs 40 extra minutes of commute time per day.
Good luck!
stoptothink
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by stoptothink »

At several different points in the last decade I have commuted almost 100% by bike. While living in Houston I basically parked my car in the garage for 1.5yrs, driving it maybe a handful of times when the rain was out of control. Currently we are renting about 20 miles from our offices, doesn't really work considering I have two kids to drop off at daycare, but we are looking to move (buy) by the end of the year and most places are within biking distance of both our offices. We are both really looking forward to it again.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by adamthesmythe »

> 1) it seems way more dangerous than driving. There aren't designated bike lanes, and drivers are inattentive.

Not seems, IS. At least everywhere I have been. Especially after dark. I am unwilling to take the risk.

Having said that, I now commute on foot.
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chonp3
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by chonp3 »

I feel safest when the days are shorter and I am riding into work in the dark. My lights are very bright, and I feel car drivers express more caution and give wider passes. Also in regards to bike lanes-the lack of bike lanes can be a good thing. The roads I take in are about 50% bike lane, and 50% narrow no shoulder arterials. 75% of the route I will ride center of the lane (the bike lanes are deteriorated and filled with debris). I used to ride towards the right edge, but a lot of drivers will attempt to squeeze by in the lane. Since riding in the center of lane, they must wait until it is safe to change lanes and make a full lane change. If they don't give enough passing space, I still have a 5 foot buffer to my right. This also means though I will not filter up the right side of the vehicles that just passed me at the next light. There's a great group on facebook "Cyclists are drivers" which is made up of a group of traffic engineers and CyclingSavvy instructors who promote lane control.
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warner25
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by warner25 »

I've settled into a pattern of driving between home and work, but leaving a (very cheap) bicycle at my office to get around during the day between offices/buildings in our sprawling complex. I saw this at Google's Mountain View campus a few years ago (the company seems to leave bicycles all over the place for folks to grab and go) and thought it was great. It probably doesn't save me much money (less wear and tear on my car, anyway, from such short trips), but running an errand by bicycle in the middle of the day is very refreshing.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by JupiterJones »

warner25 wrote:but leaving a (very cheap) bicycle at my office to get around during the day between offices/buildings in our sprawling complex.
I do something similar. I bike commute a few times a week, but only when the weather isn't too hot (which basically rules out half the year around here).

However, I keep a folding bike in my office for when I have to travel to meetings in other buildings that can be about a half-mile away. There isn't good parking there anyway, so it's actually more convenient and faster to bike than drive, even on the days I do have my car at work.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by JupiterJones »

chonp3 wrote:I feel safest when the days are shorter and I am riding into work in the dark. My lights are very bright, and I feel car drivers express more caution and give wider passes. Also in regards to bike lanes-the lack of bike lanes can be a good thing.

I was about to make the same two points. With the right gear, bicyclists are far easier to notice in the dark than in the daytime. I have a leg band and a vest that I wear that are highly reflective and feature bright, blinking LED lights. I'm really hard to miss at night--I look like somebody put the Las Vegas Strip on a bike...

And I do think that bike lanes are not always a safe as most people think. They put you squarely in the "door zone" for one. Plus, drivers tend to turn onto and from bike-lane streets without thinking about the fact that there is a bike lane to watch out for--they're just looking at the regular lanes for traffic.

Lastly, most drivers around here have the annoying habit of driving in the bike lane(!) to get around cars that are waiting to turn left. Seldom do they think to check to see if there's a bike in the lane first. :annoyed
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TheGreyingDuke
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

The idea that biking to work burns extra calories, leading to more food and then to higher expense...

If your fitness goal is to exercise one hour a day then whether you get it on your bike or in a sweaty "fitness" club with blaring music makes no difference in terms of calories, but a big savings in time and sanity. It also bypasses motivation, you have no choice but to pedal home after a long day at work. In my experience even on those days I was done in by work, after 5 minutes on the bike the tension of the day had disappeared and I was alert and refreshed.

This discussion has prompted me to edit my signature :happy
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells
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warner25
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by warner25 »

JupiterJones wrote:...when I have to travel to meetings in other buildings that can be about a half-mile away.
My distances are about the same; a mile at the most. All my coworkers just drive their cars (or, often times, large pick-up trucks) but that feels awkward to me. Like you said, the time difference is minimal if anything. I can usually leave my bicycle right outside the entrance too. Theft is not a concern.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by JupiterJones »

tbradnc wrote: But whether I'm a pedestrian or driver I hate cyclists... :)
The safety rule-of-thumb I always go by is that if you're on a motorcycle, you should drive as if the cars can't see you. If you're on a bicycle, you should drive as if the cars can see you... and are actively trying to kill you. :P
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Fallible
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Fallible »

chonp3 wrote:Does anybody commute or run errands via bike? ...
I'm retired but bike on as many errands as I can and most of the destinations are ten away miles or less. I doubt the gas savings is all that great, but it eliminates all those stops and starts that would be hard on my 12-year-old car. Plus, it's just plain fun to be out biking. :-)
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Guest9876
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Guest9876 »

The initial capital investment in a bike outweighs any transit savings, but once you dig out of that hole it does save a lot, even accounting for increased caloric intake. The IRS mileage rate is 57.5 cents per mile, and you burn let's say 50 calories per mile (I'm using moderate speed, flat, average American weight). So it's more than a penny a calorie, and even accounting for bike maintenance and the like, that's big savings. Depending on what you eat, people spend many times less than a penny per calorie. The average American spends (apparently) around $3.50 per 1000 calories each day, but could spend more or less depending on choice of foods and whether eating out or not.

I've never done this calculation, because I enjoy bike commuting, but I'll do it now. I would spend anywhere from $4 to $7 on public transit every day (average probably around $5.50). I burn around 1000 calories a day biking ($3.50). Bike maintenance is probably $10 per month. I choose not to bike maybe one or two days a month, for various reasons.

So for me, (5.5-3.5)*18-10 is a savings of probably $26 per month.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by JupiterJones »

Oh, and I'll add that the "Mister Money Mustache" blog (which I know some folks here are already readers of) has a lot of practical information and motivation on living a more bike-centric life.

For example, he's a fan of using a bike trailer for errands:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/06/ ... your-bike/

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/ ... e-trailer/

And an interesting post on bicycling safety:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/ ... portation/
Last edited by JupiterJones on Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Guest9876
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Guest9876 »

JupiterJones wrote:
tbradnc wrote: But whether I'm a pedestrian or driver I hate cyclists... :)
The safety rule-of-thumb I always go by is that if you're on a motorcycle, you should drive as if the cars can't see you. If you're on a bicycle, you should drive as if the cars can see you... and are actively trying to kill you. :P
This is actually true. I can't tell you the number of times cars will try to play "chicken" with me. Sometimes it is bleeding over into the bike lane. Sometimes it is pulling way over the line at a stop light. Sometimes it is pulling to the side to block me from passing them at a turn. Sometimes it is honking randomly just to scare me. Drivers really *do* feel entitled to lanes and get weird enjoyment out of trying to slow you down or scare you.

Be safe!
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Toons
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Toons »

Bicycle commuting.
Kudos to you .
Health benefits are extraordinar :happy y
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hexagon
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by hexagon »

Kayaker55 wrote:My wife and I are a one car family and I bike 16 miles each way to work. For me, the only way to make it financially worth it was to sell a car and eliminate the fixed costs of car ownership. .... For me, I do it because I enjoy the ride and with a 1 yr old it's my only chance to consistently ride. I view it as a free 2 hr exercise that really only costs 40 extra minutes of commute time per day.
Good luck!
+1: I've been on and off commuting 15 miles (one-way) for the last 15 years and for some years commuting seemed to be the only way I could fit exercise into my day. Since this has usually been a one-way commute this meant an hour of exercise for only cost me an extra 30 minutes or less with parking and walking to office. My best year commuting was when my middle (of 3 daughters) daughter was a senior in high school and my youngest was in middle school (both urban magnet schools near my work). We would drive in together and middle daughter would drive herself and youngest home and I would ride home most days. Youngest daughter is now 15 with learners permit so I am looking forward to getting back to every day commutes next year. Currently, I ride home on days my wife works (she works about 2 shifts a week as an RN).
chonp3 wrote:I feel safest when the days are shorter and I am riding into work in the dark. My lights are very bright, and I feel car drivers express more caution and give wider passes. Also in regards to bike lanes-the lack of bike lanes can be a good thing. The roads I take in are about 50% bike lane, and 50% narrow no shoulder arterials.
+1: I also feel safer when it is dark. The newer LED lights are an order of magnitude better (brighter and better light distribution) than what used to be available. They light up the road like a car headlight and show potholes etc even on dark rural roads (about 40% of my commute). For anyone regularly commuting at night, I recommend investing in a dynohub front wheel with a hub like the Shimano 3N-80 (or one of SON hubs if you want to spend alot).
PowDay
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by PowDay »

I'm a fair weather, when it's convenient bike commuter, 10 miles into Boston.

Luckily my office has indoor bike racks and showers, so getting ready at work is easy. I find the primary benefit is converting my commute into exercise time. You have to treat it as a hobby not a cost savings measure. I still keep my monthly train pass, and have spent plenty on bike accessories.

The ride can be a little intimating at first, but once you have done the ride 10 or so times, you really learn the traffic patterns of every intersection.

High viz yellow, and lots of lights even in the daytime, and don't be afraid to take the lane.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Epsilon Delta »

adamthesmythe wrote:> 1) it seems way more dangerous than driving. There aren't designated bike lanes, and drivers are inattentive.

Not seems, IS. At least everywhere I have been. Especially after dark. I am unwilling to take the risk.

Having said that, I now commute on foot.
Since you state this as a fact and not an opinion:

citation needed.
Naismith
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Naismith »

I use a yellow vest from Ikea ($5). Since I usually have a trunk bag, the vest is fully visible. If I was wearing a backpack, would want one with bright colors or a flashing light clipped on.

Yes, front and rear lights and a rearview mirror--we like the Mirrycle which fits into left handgrip.

I generally ride on the sidewalk. Having hybrid tires such as Kenda Kross gives enough grip to go on and off the sidewalk to avoid pedestrians and construction, etc.

My ride is 4.3 miles each way, with shopping or library stops a lot of days. Fortunately it is downhill TO the office and if I leave home by 7 a.m. I am not too sweaty (although a shower is available).

As far as the cost of investment, I would not dismiss that out of hand. It depends. In Europe, people ride the same bicycle their entire lives. I recently bought a U-frame bicycle, which is better for my back and I think will be popular with retirees. It was $400. Since our household has three employed adults sharing two cars, it certainly beats the cost of a third car. Over the 17 years that I have been a bike commuter, that definitely adds up.
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greg24
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by greg24 »

I bike commute haphazardly. There are really only two days a week that I can, and then weather plays a factor. There is negligible cost savings, but I enjoy it and it gives me 40 minutes on my bike instead of 40 minutes in a car. :sharebeer

When the kids are older, maybe my opportunities will increase, or maybe they'll decrease. Depends on after-school activities.
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Alex Frakt »

Re- equipment cost.

I bought a very good quality new (but previous year's discontinued model) Klein Pulse Comp no-suspension mountain bike 18 years ago for $600. I've spent about $100 since then on consumables: tires, chain and new brake pads. I've also spent around $250 on upgrades*. None of which were strictly necessary, except $40 for lights, but I enjoy tinkering. Every round trip I commute with it, it saves me either 40 minutes of walking, $4 bus fare, $16 taxi fare or $24 parking fee.

*New stem, grips, saddle, pedals and pedal extenders for greater comfort or control. I also converted it from a 3x7 speed to a 1x8, which meant a new cassette, BB, crankset and shifter. All the parts were closeout or heavily discounted. The most expensive part was a $90 Race Face Ride XC Single Speed Crankset.
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Greentree »

I've been biking to work for maybe 8 years. I went a few years without a car and it was nice, but also nice to have a car for those trips to the grocery store or going out to see family.

A few thoughts: driving less means you don't need as nice of a car, or you can get a higher mileage used car. A toyota with 100k miles and collision insurance for instance is pretty cheap. Other options: zipcar for a few hours, relayrides for a day or two, and rental cars. For grocery store, there are options like instacart. And I've cut down on a lot of car trips looking on amazon to see if they have it first.
jasc15
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by jasc15 »

I've commuted by bike for a bit longer than 3 years, but its only 1.4 miles each way. I miss a few days each year due to snow (northern New Jersey), and I'm close enough to walk then. I don't know if I would do it even as short as 5 miles, but the pain of buying a second car might still be greater.

I figure a car costs about $5000 a year to own and operate (though much less if I am only replacing the 1.4 mile commute) so I've saved about $15,000 since I've been riding.
NoVa Lurker
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by NoVa Lurker »

Guest9876 wrote:
JupiterJones wrote:
tbradnc wrote: But whether I'm a pedestrian or driver I hate cyclists... :)
The safety rule-of-thumb I always go by is that if you're on a motorcycle, you should drive as if the cars can't see you. If you're on a bicycle, you should drive as if the cars can see you... and are actively trying to kill you. :P
This is actually true. I can't tell you the number of times cars will try to play "chicken" with me. Sometimes it is bleeding over into the bike lane. Sometimes it is pulling way over the line at a stop light. Sometimes it is pulling to the side to block me from passing them at a turn. Sometimes it is honking randomly just to scare me. Drivers really *do* feel entitled to lanes and get weird enjoyment out of trying to slow you down or scare you.

Be safe!
Yep. I think 99% of drivers are nice and sufficiently safe, but it only takes one bad apple to destroy your day / month / life.

I bike 20 miles roundtrip a day, 3-4 days a week from Northern Virginia into DC (I use the metro the other days). It only happens about once a month, but I do sometimes encounter the drivers who get imbued with what seems to be an evolutionary sense of hatred of me as a bicyclist.

Yesterday, I was intentionally hit as I waited to make a left-hand turn in a left-hand turn lane, by a driver who was going straight. He only brushed my arm, but I know it was intentionally because he yelled, after he passed, "That's what you get for stopping in the middle of the road!" Again, I was in the left-hand turn lane, and he was going straight, so he swerved over just to brush me. It was about 7:30 am and already fairly bright outside; I was wearing a neon yellow jacket and had my rear red light on (blinking fast).

This was actually the worst incident I've had in 6 years of regular bike commuting, but it shook me up. Usually, it's cars honking for no reason, or passing much closer than they need to, or yelling something derogatory. Pedestrians in DC yell at me every so often, as well, although I ride very conservatively, particularly in the city.
hexagon
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by hexagon »

NoVa Lurker wrote:
Guest9876 wrote:
JupiterJones wrote:
tbradnc wrote: But whether I'm a pedestrian or driver I hate cyclists... :)
The safety rule-of-thumb I always go by is that if you're on a motorcycle, you should drive as if the cars can't see you. If you're on a bicycle, you should drive as if the cars can see you... and are actively trying to kill you. :P
This is actually true. I can't tell you the number of times cars will try to play "chicken" with me. Sometimes it is bleeding over into the bike lane. Sometimes it is pulling way over the line at a stop light. Sometimes it is pulling to the side to block me from passing them at a turn. Sometimes it is honking randomly just to scare me. Drivers really *do* feel entitled to lanes and get weird enjoyment out of trying to slow you down or scare you.

Be safe!
Yep. I think 99% of drivers are nice and sufficiently safe, but it only takes one bad apple to destroy your day / month / life.

I bike 20 miles roundtrip a day, 3-4 days a week from Northern Virginia into DC (I use the metro the other days). It only happens about once a month, but I do sometimes encounter the drivers who get imbued with what seems to be an evolutionary sense of hatred of me as a bicyclist.

Yesterday, I was intentionally hit as I waited to make a left-hand turn in a left-hand turn lane, by a driver who was going straight. He only brushed my arm, but I know it was intentionally because he yelled, after he passed, "That's what you get for stopping in the middle of the road!" Again, I was in the left-hand turn lane, and he was going straight, so he swerved over just to brush me. It was about 7:30 am and already fairly bright outside; I was wearing a neon yellow jacket and had my rear red light on (blinking fast).

This was actually the worst incident I've had in 6 years of regular bike commuting, but it shook me up. Usually, it's cars honking for no reason, or passing much closer than they need to, or yelling something derogatory. Pedestrians in DC yell at me every so often, as well, although I ride very conservatively, particularly in the city.
Sorry to hear about your encounter. In Nashville I encounter the milder forms of abuse (yelling, honking, etc.) much more frequently than once a month. This is probably because a significant part of my commute is through parts of town where drivers are not used to seeing cyclists and just are ignorant of laws concerning bicycles on the road. These encounters do seem to be grouped, but that may just be my perception. I should keep a record and see if I can reject the null hypothesis that the events occur independently at a constant rate (i.e., they are a Poisson process).
kommisarrex
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by kommisarrex »

DC Area bike commuter, although only when the weather is OK, and usually only the way home--we have a BikeShare thing here that I use. I find it pretty boring, but it's really fast door-to-door.

I mostly commute on a bike/walking trail, but I feel less safe on it than the roads! There are many hard-core bicyclists in DC and I've come closer to being hit by someone aggressively passing (or swerving into my lane passing on the other side) than I ever have from a car. I have developed a deep mistrust of people in spandex on carbon fiber road bikes.
Rudy63
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Rudy63 »

Hi OP,

DC area (Northern Virginia Suburbs) biker and it is one (or 2) of the highlights of the day. Part bike path (nature trail), part sidewalk, part street...usually take 3.75 miles on the way there, and do 5-9 miles (more scenic route along a bike path) on the way home. It hasn't reduced our car count for the household as 2-5 days/month I have meetings to which I need to drive.

I do think, however, there are significant time savings (if you'd be working out before/after work anyway) and probably moderate (in my situation) cost savings. More important to me is that 'worst case' with 2 babies at home, I still get 7.5 miles of biking in five days a week, and closer to 9 miles/day average...not a lot of exercise, but enough to augment a 4-5 days of other workouts throughout the week without paying a time premium. It helps that my drive would take the same amount of time and as the first one into a casual office setting, I have time to cool off. If I were wearing a suit everyday like in my 'old days', it would take me an hour to cool down to a 'suit-presentable level' in the summers of DC-area. I enjoyed the challenge with 6" of snow, 0 degrees as well as 100 degree days. The only days that were avoid were the days in early spring where the ice was too thick...2" of ice on a bike isn't as fun as people would have you believe. I might invest in studs this winter.

For a ride as short as mine, I am on a MTB from Target for $125 and don't feel it makes an appreciable difference for quality of ride or for time (given stoplights, etc) and certainly saved a lot of start up cost. I also don't worry excessively (although I'd be annoyed) if someone walked off with my $125 bike.

Changing jobs a year ago, people ask me how I like my new job. I find myself talking exclusively about trading a 40 mile drive for a 4 mile bike...and thinking I will never go back!

Be safe and enjoy!
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Meg77
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Meg77 »

I just bought my first bike (since childhood) and am eagerly awaiting its arrival! I live 1.6 miles from my office building, which is equipped with a shower and workout facility if I get too sweaty on the way in. I can also easily walk to a new grocery store and to run other local errands, but biking will be preferable when I'm in a hurry or it's too hot/cold to walk comfortably.

I don't have to get on any highways or crazy busy roads to get to work, but Dallas drivers/streets are not exactly made for safe and easy biking...they are barely suitable for driving safely. Lots of potholes, no bike lanes, very aggressive drivers, and no awareness of general bike etiquette. But I'm seeing more and more people on bikes here and am determined to do my little part to shift the local consciousness. It's not so much about saving money for me (1.6 miles doesn't exactly burn much gas or depreciate my car, which I'll be keeping), but it's more about trying to make lifestyle changes that better reflect my values.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin
Stonebr
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Stonebr »

Fallible wrote:
chonp3 wrote:Does anybody commute or run errands via bike? ...
I'm retired but bike on as many errands as I can and most of the destinations are ten away miles or less. I doubt the gas savings is all that great, but it eliminates all those stops and starts that would be hard on my 12-year-old car. Plus, it's just plain fun to be out biking. :-)
+1. I'm retired and live close to town. I can do errands -- 3 grocery stores, City Hall, the library, excellent bookstores all within about 2 miles. My volunteer work is about 3 miles away. A small city like Portland, Maine is ideal for biking, and the bike lanes are well marked.

It's a mountain bike with slick city tires, but I switch to studded snow tires in December and ride through winter. It can get pretty gritty at times. I ride about 1000 miles a year rather than drive. The bike gets rough treatment, but I have it tuned at the shop every spring and do a lot of routine maintenance myself. I had to replace the cassette and one of the chainrings this year, and anything that isn't aluminum or plastic is rusting.
"have more than thou showest, | speak less than thou knowest" -- The Fool in King Lear
Fallible
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Fallible »

Stonebr wrote:
Fallible wrote:
chonp3 wrote:Does anybody commute or run errands via bike? ...
I'm retired but bike on as many errands as I can and most of the destinations are ten away miles or less. I doubt the gas savings is all that great, but it eliminates all those stops and starts that would be hard on my 12-year-old car. Plus, it's just plain fun to be out biking. :-)
+1. I'm retired and live close to town. I can do errands -- 3 grocery stores, City Hall, the library, excellent bookstores all within about 2 miles. My volunteer work is about 3 miles away. A small city like Portland, Maine is ideal for biking, and the bike lanes are well marked.

It's a mountain bike with slick city tires, but I switch to studded snow tires in December and ride through winter. It can get pretty gritty at times. I ride about 1000 miles a year rather than drive. The bike gets rough treatment, but I have it tuned at the shop every spring and do a lot of routine maintenance myself. I had to replace the cassette and one of the chainrings this year, and anything that isn't aluminum or plastic is rusting.
You have it made! My volunteer work is in various locations and usually 20 to 30 miles from home. Libraries and book stores are five and six miles, but that's still a nice ride. Grocery and drugstores and post office are two to three miles and biking lanes are everywhere. I like to bundle up and ride in colder weather, but only when roads are bare. In icy conditions, I worry more about cars sliding into me than I do the bike sliding.
"Yes, investing is simple. But it is not easy, for it requires discipline, patience, steadfastness, and that most uncommon of all gifts, common sense." ~Jack Bogle
jasc15
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by jasc15 »

In addition to the ice, the past few northeast winters have left large amounts of snow on the shoulders of the road putting me too close to cars that are also prone to sliding. I take residential roads when this happens, but I still need to ride on major roads at some dangerous locations.
BBBob
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by BBBob »

BBBob wrote:BTW, I bought a small side mirror that clips onto the right temple of my sunglasses; I find it to be a really important piece of equipment, and the cost was only about $10.
Good advice as well, I got one and it has made a world of difference in knowing whether I'm going to be passed by someone, whether on bike or in a car (some cyclists like to tailgate too :annoyed )[/quote]

BTW, I meant "left" temple.
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black jack
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by black jack »

In my 20s I went a decade without a car, getting around by bike, foot, and bus and renting a car when needed - but I was living in a city (Honolulu) on an island, so distances were relatively short, and I was single (and some of the women I dated had cars, so sometimes I was freeloading transportation). I would think with Zipcar, Uber, etc that not owning a car would be even less of a hassle these days.

Now I live in metro DC, with a family, and we get by with one car. My bike commute is 12 miles each way. For a southern boy, the winters here are a bit much (yes, you Minnesotans/Chicagoans/Vermonters, I'm a cold-weather wimp), but after skipping the first winter, I decided to try biking throughout the year, and found that I can handle it down to about 15 degrees, except when the streets are icy. Like some other poster mentioned, I have a list of clothing for different temps to refresh my memory throughout the year. I have a shower available at work, keep a suit at the office for the occasions when I need one, and carry daily clothes in panniers.

I wear a high visibility vest (high viz jackets seemed expensive considering they were only suitable for a few months of the year) and bright lights front and rear in spring/summer/fall. I'm about to switch to my winter lighting, which consists of a battery-powered LED headlight that makes me looks like a slow-moving motorcycle, a couple of bright red blinkies in the rear, and spoke lights on my front wheel. Last winter some millenial cyclist sniffed that I looked like a carnival, which I was glad to hear. I particularly love the spoke lights; they make me smile.

I also run errands on my bike up to about four miles each way, except when it's raining or I need more than will fit in my panniers (Costco, sigh).

Cost: biking is cheaper than driving, way cheaper than driving and paying for parking, and way way cheaper than driving and belonging to a gym. I'm still riding my 1985 road bike (steel is real!), and I spend maybe $100 a year on consumables (tires, chains, gloves).

One of the many nice things about biking is that I can count on my trip to work taking about the same amount of time each day. That is not the case with driving (I enjoy hearing about the epic traffic jams in the DC area on the radio each morning) or with our subway system these days. But the best part is the cleansing effect of biking home from work; I sweat out the stress, shower when I get home, and sit down to dinner feeling like a new man each evening.

Edited to add to the OP: biking in southern California - a no brainer! As for getting rid of your car, by now you should have a pretty good idea of how well you can get by without one (with the aid of Zipcar, Uber, etc), and it's not like you have to take a lifetime vow of carlessness: how much would you save on insurance, etc, if you sold your car and went X number of years before buying another one?
We cannot absolutely prove [that they are wrong who say] that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason. | -T. B. Macaulay (1800-1859)
Ninegrams
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by Ninegrams »

DW and I went two years with bikes only, and it worked out fine since we weren't far from shopping, and had good public transit available as a backup( also rented a car from time to time). How it will work for you and how much you'll enjoy it depends a lot on your locale. Now I just use the bike for regular errands and exercise. I am fortunate to have a very good bike path network, and my city forbids parking in the bike lanes, which makes things a lot safer. For the places where there are no separate paths, or if the main drags are too hairy, I plot my way on quieter residential streets. It takes a little longer but the stress reduction is worth it. If you plan to ditch the car, you should plan to invest in a suitable trailer or get a bike purpose designed to haul loads.
For me, the exercise alone makes it a superior option any money saving is secondary.
johnny847
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by johnny847 »

Lots of good discussion here.

I'm a bike commuter, and I'd like to chime in with this suggestion: Get a bike horn. Like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Delta-Airzound-Bi ... 000ACAMJC/. It's a air canister connected to a horn. The canister can be pumped with a normal bike pump (Schrader valve). It's rated for about 30 half second uses on a full canister.

It's as loud as a car horn.
oragne lovre
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Re: Bicycle commuting

Post by oragne lovre »

johnny847 wrote:Lots of good discussion here.

I'm a bike commuter, and I'd like to chime in with this suggestion: Get a bike horn. Like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Delta-Airzound-Bi ... 000ACAMJC/. It's a air canister connected to a horn. The canister can be pumped with a normal bike pump (Schrader valve). It's rated for about 30 half second uses on a full canister.

It's as loud as a car horn.
Thanks for this tip. I'll get one.
The finest, albeit the most difficult, of all human achievements is being reasonable.
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