Commuting by bike

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Johm221122
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Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

I'm going to start commuting by bike because of problems with public transportation ( funding issues, budget cuts/ covid issue with passenger limits).Any pointers?

I just bought a 2021 Townie Path 9D Step-Over and I'm going to do a 5 mile ride each way. It's three quarters bike lane ride on a road with little traffic and one fourth busy street ( that I'll use sidewalks, sidewalk is barley used).

I'm in fine shape and I've done it a couple times before on a cheap bike, looking for any tips or suggestions?
Wellfleet
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Wellfleet »

As a "former" and maybe future bike commuter (pre-pandemic) here are my tips.

-If you are commuting year-round in Boston/NYC versus LA or Miami, there will be different monthly needs because it gets cold and snowy in the northern half of the U.S. Winter does a job on bikes in the north.
-Your community might have a organization that has local tips and mapped out best routes.
-get high viz gear and bright headlight and tail light.
-I prefer longer routes to shorter routes on busier routes.
bloom2708
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by bloom2708 »

I miss my bike commute! Covid, working from home.

Wear a helmet, plan a little extra time. Go at a reasonable pace. You will get used to dressing for biking if it gets cold where you are at. Have good bike lights if you ride in the dark.

The hardest part for me was using a backpack for carrying my laptop and all the things I wanted to bring with and storing my bike at work.

I solved this by buying a Brompton M6R folding bike. I have a Brompton front carry bag that holds everything. The bike is well balanced and no sweaty back. Brompton's have a slick carry block and bags that slide on the block.

I fold the bike up and put it in my tiny little cube. No rain/elements or worrying about the bike being messed with outside.

If you don't have hard winter to deal with, it should be pretty easy. For hard winter I also have a Specialized Fatboy fat tire bike. If it got below 10F or so, I usually stopped biking. Either that or the snow/sidewalks got too deep.

I look forward to post-covid and returning to my daily bike commute. Good luck with your commute.
"We are here to provoke thoughtfulness, not agree with you." Unknown Boglehead
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FiveK
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by FiveK »

Riding on the sidewalk may be legally wrong but likely subject to a lower likelihood of serious injury. Riding in the road on a busy street w/o a bike lane may be legally correct but subject to a higher likelihood of serious injury.
Topic Author
Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

Wellfleet wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:23 pm As a "former" and maybe future bike commuter (pre-pandemic) here are my tips.

-If you are commuting year-round in Boston/NYC versus LA or Miami, there will be different monthly needs because it gets cold and snowy in the northern half of the U.S. Winter does a job on bikes in the north.
-Your community might have a organization that has local tips and mapped out best routes.
-get high viz gear and bright headlight and tail light.
-I prefer longer routes to shorter routes on busier routes.
Thanks
In bad weather I'll use public transportation/Uber
Google maps does suggest longer route. Is it worth extra 2 miles bike friendly route instead of 1 mile busy street?
Topic Author
Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

FiveK wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:26 pm Riding on the sidewalk may be legally wrong but likely subject to a lower likelihood of serious injury. Riding in the road on a busy street w/o a bike lane may be legally correct but subject to a higher likelihood of serious injury.
Legal in my city and it's only 1 mile. I agree with you
Topic Author
Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

bloom2708 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:25 pm I miss my bike commute! Covid, working from home.

Wear a helmet, plan a little extra time. Go at a reasonable pace. You will get used to dressing for biking if it gets cold where you are at. Have good bike lights if you ride in the dark.

The hardest part for me was using a backpack for carrying my laptop and all the things I wanted to bring with and storing my bike at work.

I solved this by buying a Brompton M6R folding bike. I have a Brompton front carry bag that holds everything. The bike is well balanced and no sweaty back. Brompton's have a slick carry block and bags that slide on the block.

I fold the bike up and put it in my tiny little cube. No rain/elements or worrying about the bike being messed with outside.

If you don't have hard winter to deal with, it should be pretty easy. For hard winter I also have a Specialized Fatboy fat tire bike. If it got below 10F or so, I usually stopped biking. Either that or the snow/sidewalks got too deep.

I look forward to post-covid and returning to my daily bike commute. Good luck with your commute.
Thanks
I'm in Memphis and it's generally a mild winter. Summer will be more of problem
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2pedals
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by 2pedals »

Get good lighting for rear and front. For the front light you will want lighting in the 600+ lumen range so you can see the road. Also get get reflective gear for night riding.

https://www.t3.com/us/features/best-rear-bike-light
random_walker_77
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by random_walker_77 »

The cyclists in my office recommended mirrors so that you can see threats coming up from behind, and also a gopro camera so that you can get the license plate #'s on dangerous drivers. They all seemed to have had near-miss stories, and/or scars from crashes. Beware of cars turning in front of you, turning into you, and swerving into the bike lane (both unintentionally and intentionally). I never had the guts to try it, but it sounds pretty dangerous.

For better or worse, around where I live, when a bicyclist gets killed, either the culprit is never apprehended, or they get a couple years of probation. I heard of one person who was actually sentenced to 2 years of prison (but the way that goes, that means they can be out on probation much sooner). Hopefully, it's better where you're at.
bloom2708
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by bloom2708 »

FiveK wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:26 pm Riding on the sidewalk may be legally wrong but likely subject to a lower likelihood of serious injury. Riding in the road on a busy street w/o a bike lane may be legally correct but subject to a higher likelihood of serious injury.
I routinely use sidewalks and have no trouble going a longer route to avoid busy areas/traffic. People can use their intuition if a sidewalk is packed with people walking and avoid those scenarios.

If you enjoy the commute, then an extra mile or so is more fun. I could go direct and be about 3.0 miles or the safer route that is about 3.6 miles. Not much different, but I can also go a long route that is 5 miles. I choose that when it is nice out.
"We are here to provoke thoughtfulness, not agree with you." Unknown Boglehead
sailaway
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by sailaway »

Helmet
Lighting
Panniers over backpack
Snap bracelet to hold pant leg out of the way

In Miami, people would slow down, roll down their windows and yell at me. "Use the sidewalk" in a place with no sidewalk, "Do you want to die?" Fun things like that. So, weather isn't everything.
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ObliviousInvestor
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

There are lots of things to know about riding with vehicles.

For instance, here are two well-made, brief videos about the danger of riding to the right of trucks (as one might do if riding in a bike lane and unaware of the danger involved).
https://cyclingsavvy.org/what-cyclists- ... ut-trucks/
Mike Piper | Roth is a name, not an acronym.
MrBeaver
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by MrBeaver »

Bike League instructors and seminars are very helpful if 'riding near traffic' is something you're not very confident and experienced with:
https://www.bikeleague.org/content/find-take-class

Looks like there are two League Cycling certified instructors in Memphis, and one runs a bike club:
https://www.memphishightailers.com


Have fun!
surfstar
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by surfstar »

Looks like people have you covered.
I'll just say that I really like the Cygolite Hotshot for a rear, USB rechargeable light. (I think I bought an older/cheaper model 80 off ebay)
The main thing is that I believe the triple-flash / random flash is much better at getting a driver's attention that a steady flash.

example: https://youtu.be/MAGO3JR5bBA?t=57
J295
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by J295 »

Good comments. I would particularly echo surfstar and sailaway. One thing is the need to be constantly vigilant, and even then there is a good chance you might have some falls.

Did anyone mention a rear fender? If you don’t already have one, you will find out you’ll need one after your first ride in the rain and finding out you have a stripe of your back.
Pancho
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Pancho »

Spread the word about the “Dutch Reach”:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... vers-doors
RickyAZ
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by RickyAZ »

Have ridden thousands of miles in all sorts of conditions:
Prefer clipless pedals but if only a mile doesn't matter
Get a proper fitting at a bike shop if you can't do it yourself. Worth every penny. Even for a short commute a well fitted bike will keep you from getting saddle sores
Carry a spare tube, don't fiddle with patches or repairs until you get home.
Stick a rain shell in your backpack. Even if you don't use it for months on end
If you're about to be hit by a car -- you're going to feel it before it happens -- let go of the handle bars. You'll go up in the air, the bike will go flying but you'll likely be unharmed. That is from experience x 2.
Cheers
tomsense76
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by tomsense76 »

Use to live in Memphis and biked there as my primary mode of transportation. Should work great. I think it's even got more bike friendly in years since as I've seen in past visits and heard from friends in the area.

Personally would recommend a hybrid over a road bike. Glass and other debris is pretty common. Friends of mine with road bikes got flats frequently. Having a hybrid or mountain bike helps avoid that. Only real downside is it's a bit more work biking, but it will keep you in shape :D Also would recommend an aluminum frame to cutdown on weight a bit. Memphis is pretty flat so it shouldn't be too bad.

Planet Bike has a good multi-LED light. Takes batteries, but can get rechargeable ones. Would recommend a back light that has a flashing mode. Packable coat and rain paints also recommended. These are tough during muggy summers, but definitely worthwhile during fall and spring. Definitely recommend a bike lock. Also don't leave bike out overnight. Bike theft was a pretty common issue (maybe it's better now?).

Usually can find good routes off the main roads in Memphis which should help with the concerns other raise about sidewalks and traffic. Would just bike on the road with those and cars were seldom. Though riding on sidewalks can work if you are on any of the main roads.

There's a good biking community in Memphis. Would check out Revolutions Co-op. Can volunteer there and earn a bike that way plus the skills to work on it. Alternatively can buy bikes from them. Also The Peddler (since renamed to Trek Bicycle) was a reputable small bike shop when I lived there. No idea since though.

HTH :beer
HawkeyePierce
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by HawkeyePierce »

Install a rear rack and get a laptop pannier. Far better than a backpack.

I routinely go a few extra miles out of my way to avoid busy roads.

Also wear gloves. Will save your hands in a crash.
Last edited by HawkeyePierce on Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ThankYouJack
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by ThankYouJack »

I say go for it, but stay safe as you can. I used to commute some by bike (been working from home for years) but I got taken out by a driver one time. I was in a bike lane and got "right hooked" as he turned last second and never saw me. Luckily I was fine minus some damage to my clothes, phone and some bad scrapes that took a while to heal.
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willthrill81
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by willthrill81 »

However you determine to carry them, I strongly suggest that you keep a small air pump and tire repair kit with you. A saddle bag might be a good choice for carrying them (it's what I do), and then it's always with the bike.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings
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dodecahedron
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by dodecahedron »

Johm221122 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:29 pm
FiveK wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:26 pm Riding on the sidewalk may be legally wrong but likely subject to a lower likelihood of serious injury. Riding in the road on a busy street w/o a bike lane may be legally correct but subject to a higher likelihood of serious injury.
Legal in my city and it's only 1 mile. I agree with you
The OP noted that the sidewalk in question is "barely used."

As one of the "barely user" pedestrians on a narrow and sometimes uneven sidewalk perilously close to a busy road with cars, trucks, and buses whizzing by at 40 to 45 mph (or higher), I would deeply appreciate it if bikers who insist on sharing the sidewalk acknowledge that it was not original designed for their use, that some of us older pedestrians can easily lose our balance and trip and fall if a bike whizzes by us with no warning. Even if the biker does ring a bell or call out as they approach from behind, we may not be able to hear the warning with the noisy traffic going by.

If indeed the sidewalk is "barely used" by pedestrians, it should not be unduly burdensome to dismount and politely *walk* your bike past the very occasional pedestrian you encounter before continuing on your way.
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Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

2pedals wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:35 pm Get good lighting for rear and front. For the front light you will want lighting in the 600+ lumen range so you can see the road. Also get get reflective gear for night riding.

https://www.t3.com/us/features/best-rear-bike-light
Yes I got this at bike shop and I knew I was over paying but I just paid the price because the change in bus availability came quickly
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Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

willthrill81 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:54 pm However you determine to carry them, I strongly suggest that you keep a small air pump and tire repair kit with you. A saddle bag might be a good choice for carrying them (it's what I do), and then it's always with the bike.
Actually they tried to sell me that but when I get more experienced I'll buy one online. I haven't changed a tube in 40 years I'm not quite ready yet. I'll have to get up to speed
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Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

tomsense76 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:37 pm Use to live in Memphis and biked there as my primary mode of transportation. Should work great. I think it's even got more bike friendly in years since as I've seen in past visits and heard from friends in the area.

Personally would recommend a hybrid over a road bike. Glass and other debris is pretty common. Friends of mine with road bikes got flats frequently. Having a hybrid or mountain bike helps avoid that. Only real downside is it's a bit more work biking, but it will keep you in shape :D Also would recommend an aluminum frame to cutdown on weight a bit. Memphis is pretty flat so it shouldn't be too bad.

Planet Bike has a good multi-LED light. Takes batteries, but can get rechargeable ones. Would recommend a back light that has a flashing mode. Packable coat and rain paints also recommended. These are tough during muggy summers, but definitely worthwhile during fall and spring. Definitely recommend a bike lock. Also don't leave bike out overnight. Bike theft was a pretty common issue (maybe it's better now?).

Usually can find good routes off the main roads in Memphis which should help with the concerns other raise about sidewalks and traffic. Would just bike on the road with those and cars were seldom. Though riding on sidewalks can work if you are on any of the main roads.

There's a good biking community in Memphis. Would check out Revolutions Co-op. Can volunteer there and earn a bike that way plus the skills to work on it. Alternatively can buy bikes from them. Also The Peddler (since renamed to Trek Bicycle) was a reputable small bike shop when I lived there. No idea since though.

HTH :beer
Yes I got my bike at Trek, I live next door. My route is 75% Southern Ave and it has bike lane and isn't very busy and mostly one lane for my ride( also extremely wide Road)
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Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

ThankYouJack wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:40 pm I say go for it, but stay safe as you can. I used to commute some by bike (been working from home for years) but I got taken out by a driver one time. I was in a bike lane and got "right hooked" as he turned last second and never saw me. Luckily I was fine minus some damage to my clothes, phone and some bad scrapes that took a while to heal.
this worries me especially as I do it regularly because I'll become complacent
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Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:39 pm Install a rear rack and get a laptop pannier. Far better than a backpack.

I routinely go a few extra miles out of my way to avoid busy roads.

Also wear gloves. Will save your hands in a crash.
Google Maps actually recommends this. But it's like 7 streets on sidewalk and they recommend going extra 1.6 miles
Topic Author
Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

RickyAZ wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:24 pm Have ridden thousands of miles in all sorts of conditions:
Prefer clipless pedals but if only a mile doesn't matter
Get a proper fitting at a bike shop if you can't do it yourself. Worth every penny. Even for a short commute a well fitted bike will keep you from getting saddle sores
Carry a spare tube, don't fiddle with patches or repairs until you get home.
Stick a rain shell in your backpack. Even if you don't use it for months on end
If you're about to be hit by a car -- you're going to feel it before it happens -- let go of the handle bars. You'll go up in the air, the bike will go flying but you'll likely be unharmed. That is from experience x 2.
Cheers
Thanks
I'll try to remember to let go of the handlebars
Topic Author
Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

MrBeaver wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:01 pm Bike League instructors and seminars are very helpful if 'riding near traffic' is something you're not very confident and experienced with:
https://www.bikeleague.org/content/find-take-class

Looks like there are two League Cycling certified instructors in Memphis, and one runs a bike club:
https://www.memphishightailers.com


Have fun!
Thanks
Topic Author
Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

random_walker_77 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:37 pm The cyclists in my office recommended mirrors so that you can see threats coming up from behind, and also a gopro camera so that you can get the license plate #'s on dangerous drivers. They all seemed to have had near-miss stories, and/or scars from crashes. Beware of cars turning in front of you, turning into you, and swerving into the bike lane (both unintentionally and intentionally). I never had the guts to try it, but it sounds pretty dangerous.

For better or worse, around where I live, when a bicyclist gets killed, either the culprit is never apprehended, or they get a couple years of probation. I heard of one person who was actually sentenced to 2 years of prison (but the way that goes, that means they can be out on probation much sooner). Hopefully, it's better where you're at.
I sure have been thinking mirror, it makes sense. I'm not able to look back easily yet. I don't remember as kid having this issue but my ability to look backwards is lacking
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Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

ObliviousInvestor wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:43 pm There are lots of things to know about riding with vehicles.

For instance, here are two well-made, brief videos about the danger of riding to the right of trucks (as one might do if riding in a bike lane and unaware of the danger involved).
https://cyclingsavvy.org/what-cyclists- ... ut-trucks/
I've been reading articles and never thought video's. I'm going to look at some. Very good idea
7eight9
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by 7eight9 »

As a motorist the one thing I would recommend (as others have said) is lights. Front and rear. I don't want to run you over. And you don't want me to run you over. Lights help both of us.
I guess it all could be much worse. | They could be warming up my hearse.
AnEngineer
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by AnEngineer »

Johm221122 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:29 pm
FiveK wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:26 pm Riding on the sidewalk may be legally wrong but likely subject to a lower likelihood of serious injury. Riding in the road on a busy street w/o a bike lane may be legally correct but subject to a higher likelihood of serious injury.
Legal in my city and it's only 1 mile. I agree with you
Riding on the sidewalk can be less safe then you think, even without pedestrians. If you're going the 'wrong' way, then approaching cars won't look in your direction and may hit you. Even going the right way, you're traveling much faster than a pedestrian and much further to the side of the road compared to cars, so approaching cars won't look in your direction. Cars approaching your road or making a left turn from the other direction are likely your biggest concerns here, but also the right hook already mentioned can also occur (although this is less excusable).
Faith20879
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Faith20879 »

dodecahedron wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 6:04 pm
... if bikers who insist on sharing the sidewalk acknowledge that it was not original designed for their use, that some of us older pedestrians can easily lose our balance and trip and fall if a bike whizzes by us with no warning. Even if the biker does ring a bell or call out as they approach from behind, we may not be able to hear the warning with the noisy traffic going by.

If indeed the sidewalk is "barely used" by pedestrians, it should not be unduly burdensome to dismount and politely *walk* your bike past the very occasional pedestrian you encounter before continuing on your way.
+1.

In my municipality, all sidewalks are deemed multi-use. But in reality, some sections are just too narrow to allow two way pedestrians or strollers. It may be my rights but doesn't make it safe. I often get off and wait on the grass.

Anyway, I biked to work for the last 20 years of my career. Retired during the current pandemic. Will miss my route and the yearly bike-to-work day festivities.

There have been some very good points already. I would add sun protection (face, arms, back of your hands) and lighting if you intend to ride in the dark. I always try to make myself visible from all directions, not just front and back.
cyclist
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by cyclist »

I commuted by bike year round in the DC metro area.

Spending on your personal safety can be a really, really good investment. You’ve had suggestions for decent tail lights, but in my opinion you want a lot more than that - you want a light that is so striking day and night that motorists actually give you more room. I recommend
https://store.dinottelighting.com/mobil ... -p111.aspx - extremely expensive, extremely bright, extremely well-made and reliable. Seriously worth the money, and made in USA.

I’d also read up on “vehicular cycling”, which is a mouthful for “occupy the space you require to operate your vehicle safely”. Please don’t hug the curb hoping to avoid traffic - you’ll fall or be struck because the other vehicle operators in their cars are not looking at the curb. They’re (generally) looking where they are going. If there’s a safe shoulder to ride on then by all means use it, but if you’ll be riding in the roadway don’t encourage close passes by squeezing too far to the side. If there isn’t room for drivers to pass you with a safe 3-foot buffer between you and them, take (occupy) the lane until you reach a place where you can let them pass you safely. It may feel strange at first, but it truly is safer.

High-visibility clothing and bright lights are great, but use those mirrors and watch to see if drivers are approaching you safely so you can react as needed. (Try your best to be visible, but ride as if you are invisible.)

Good clothing to keep you comfortable is a big plus too. You don’t really need fancy cycling gear in my opinion, but good wind-resistant winter gloves can be so nice. Warm socks as needed too.

Enjoy! Bike commuters tend to smile a lot more than others!

Cyclist
Naismith
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Naismith »

Another former bike commuter working at home nowadays. Good advice all around about lights, etc.

Living in Florida, commuting should have been easy. But at 6:30 a.m., it would get down to the 20s in February, and I loved my neoprene half face mask to cut the wind. Also frustrating that the temperature would have risen 30+ degrees during the course of the day, so riding home in the afternoon I would have to carry back all the gloves, headband, heavy coat, etc.

I used a back rack slide-on trunk bag rather than a backpack. Better balance, and it did not cover up my yellow vest the way a backpack would have. I made an oilskin waterproof cover for the trunk bag, held on by elastic. I also had a small web cargo net that could attach extra items to the top of the trunk bag, such as if grocery shopping on the way home.
wanderer
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Location: Houston, Texas, USA

Re: Commuting by bike

Post by wanderer »

Bike commuted in Houston for a few years, while I worked a corporate office.
I choose neighborhoods as much as possible, but had to cross 610 west loop and navigate Uptown/Galleria area.
Echoing others thoughts:

Great experience
Wear hi-visibility clothing
Take your time.
Ride “aware”and upright to “be seen”
Be courteous, even if others are not
Use a rack and panniers.
Read up, videos on riding in traffic.
Ensure you have a safe/ secure place to store yor bike and shower/change clothes at work.
mgensler
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by mgensler »

I also recommend a rear rack and lights. Planet Bike has some great options. Bike theft is increasing with the demand in cycling. Make sure to get a decent chain and a frame lock. You can find these on Amazon.

One thing to remember when riding on the road is to take the full lane. Don't let automobiles squeeze around you in the lane to pass. This is how you die.

It's up to you to decide if the longer route is safer. Here's the rule of thumb. Hit at 20mph, you have an 80% chance of living. Hit at 40mph, you have a 20% chance of living.

Helmets aren't statistically going to help you unless you are going super fast and hit a tree say on a 28mph ebike. They are pretty useless against two tons of speeding steel.
random_walker_77
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by random_walker_77 »

I don't want to start a discussion on this, but did want to note that there are a surprising number of people out there who think that bicyclists shouldn't be on the road, are personally offended by cyclists driving on "their" roads, and even in this age of dashcams, think nothing about jeering, rolling coal, throwing cans at cyclists, or even aggressively swerving towards cyclists. As evidenced by first-hand reports and discussions seen on nextdoor. It's really scary, and I'm perplexed to even see people willingly admit to criminally antisocial behavior on such public forums.

Pair that with the slim odds of prosecution, and the minimal punishments, and there's really very little punishment for a distracted driver who kills a cyclist. From what I've read, they probably won't even be criminally charged unless they're egregiously drunk or leave the scene (hit and run).
Why is it so hard to charge motorists with murdering cyclists?

Drivers who kill people on bikes often don’t get prosecuted
Why Isn’t It a Crime To Kill a Cyclist with a Car?


So yes, get good lights and visibility gear, and please be aware and careful. There're some crazy drivers out there!!! (And bad drivers too!)
ManhattanTrnsfr
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Location: New York City

Re: Commuting by bike

Post by ManhattanTrnsfr »

Long time NYC bike commuter here. Strongly recommend good lights, and also an item I use but have not seen mentioned yet: rear-facing radar to detect vehicles approaching from the back. Garmin manufacturers this item, called the Varia RTL510 bike radar. The radar unit also includes a (really good) light, and must be paired with a display unit that you mount on your handlebars. The display unit shows little dots that move up on the display as vehicles get closer. Extremely accurate in my experience, and detects vehicles up to about 100 yards behind you. About $300 including the display unit - but safety is priceless.

Garmin also makes an excellent front light: Varia UT800. $100.
Tamarack
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Tamarack »

I love my helmet mounted front light. You can aim it where you need it - to read a street sign or lock/unlock your bike etc. I’m convinced it also saved me multiple times from drivers who didn’t “see” me until I pointed my light in their face. This usually happened with drivers making turns at intersections.
FrugalFed
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by FrugalFed »

Along the lines of some of these comments . . . how much does commuting primarily on dedicated bike trail(s) improve the safety of bike commuting? As a dad to small kids, the safety aspect has been a major impediment to taking up bike commuting, but I can do my current post-pandemic commute primarily on a dedicated bike facility (W&OD trail for those in Northern Virginia that are familiar). Thanks!
wilked
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by wilked »

I would encourage you to stay on the road vs sidewalk. You say the sidewalk is rarely used, my guess is sidewalks get used even less if the pedestrians have to deal with cyclists. You can be safe on the road with good knowledge, lights / visibility, and safe driving.

Do know that most cyclist major injuries / deaths are from large trucks. Always assume they will do the wrong thing. The video above is a good one. Cars are small enough where you can anticipate their actions and communicate with them. Beware of getting door’d, it’s happened to the best of us but generally results in a scraped leg and bruises. I ride through busy streets with at least two fingers on a brake.

Good luck! Thanks for keeping greenhouse emissions down
tomsense76
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by tomsense76 »

peseta wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:50 pm Along the lines of some of these comments . . . how much does commuting primarily on dedicated bike trail(s) improve the safety of bike commuting? As a dad to small kids, the safety aspect has been a major impediment to taking up bike commuting, but I can do my current post-pandemic commute primarily on a dedicated bike facility (W&OD trail for those in Northern Virginia that are familiar). Thanks!
I knew a few folks that biked on the trails on their work commute in that area. Don't recall them having any issues.

Would recommend Bluemont Junction Trail. There's always a few runners and bikers on that trail. Goes through a quiet neighborhood. It does cross George Mason and Wilson at the beginning nearer to Ballston though there are walk signals there. Alternatively could also drive and park at Bluemont Park and ride bikes down Bluemont Junction Trail, W&OD, or Four Mile Run from there if you wanted to do that. Usually there are families in that area having picnics or people playing tennis at the courts. During the summer bugs may be more of an issue, but shouldn't be a problem this time of the year.
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sk2101
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by sk2101 »

J295 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:16 pm Did anyone mention a rear fender? If you don’t already have one, you will find out you’ll need one after your first ride in the rain and finding out you have a stripe of your back.
I recommend front and rear fenders on a commuter bike. A very good set of lights (those can be expensive, I spent around $300). And if you can't bring the bike inside the office you will aslo need good locks.
alfaspider
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by alfaspider »

Bike commuter here (though not since the beginning of the pandemic). A few tips:

If you don't already have a bike, I'd look at a "touring" or "gravel" bike with wider, but not treaded tires. If you need to lock the bike up in a busy public street, I'd consider a folding bike instead. If your bike is locked up every day on a busy street in a place like New York City, it's not a question of if but when your bike will be stolen. I commuted on a Brompton folding bike when I lived in NYC, which folded up and stowed under my desk at work.

Consider an anti-puncture tire such as the Continental Gatorskin to reduce the possibility of needing to fix a flat on your way to work when you are running late for a meeting. There are also anti-flat tubes that I run. They are heavy, but your commute isn't the Tour de France.

Get a rack and pannier system. Much nicer than a backpack. I have a garment bag pannier that has served me very well and keeps my work clothes from getting wet or wrinkled. You should always keep packable rain gear in a side pocket.

Light yourself up like a christmas tree, especially if you will commute at dusk or night. I run two rear flashers (helmet and seatpost mount), a 900 lumen front, and some blue LED lights that wrap around the frame. You want to make sure you are seen at all times, and look "unusual" enough such that even inattentive drivers notice you.

Carefully plan your route. Google maps satellite view can be very helpful in determining what the best route is (Don't just rely on cycling directions). Often times, the best (safest) cycling route is very different from the fastest/shortest route or recommended route in a car. Take advantage of any off-street bike paths or park cut-throughs when possible.

Keep your head on a swivel with respect to traffic. I've been fortunate not to have had any serious close calls in almost 10 years of bike commuting. Some of that is luck, but I think it also helps that I've studied common cycling accident scenarios and ride specifically to prevent those scenarios. for example, a common accident is getting hit by a car door opening from a street parked car. ALWAYS ride a door length away from a parked car, and keep in mind that they can swing out 4-5 feet in some cases. NEVER proceed straight through an intersection without checking over your shoulder for cars that might be turning right into you. Use hand signals to indicate where you are going to vehicles- simple active pointing is often more effective than the "official" hand signals. Whenever possible, make eye contact with drivers.

I think you will enjoy cycling to work. It's a fantastic way to stay in shape without significant additional time commitment, and I also find it to be a big stress reducer compared to driving.
alfaspider
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by alfaspider »

sk2101 wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:36 am
J295 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:16 pm Did anyone mention a rear fender? If you don’t already have one, you will find out you’ll need one after your first ride in the rain and finding out you have a stripe of your back.
I recommend front and rear fenders on a commuter bike. A very good set of lights (those can be expensive, I spent around $300). And if you can't bring the bike inside the office you will aslo need good locks.
I think fenders are only marginally useful to be honest. If it's really raining or snowy, you are getting wet fenders or not. They will not save you from vehicles splashing water on you from the side. Best bet is to shower/change at work and wear rain gear if there's a potential for rain or puddles.

Keep in mind that even the best lock is only a deterrent to the casual thief. If someone really wants your bike, they will get it if it's parked in a public area. A cheap battery powered angle grinder can get through even the best lock in a matter of seconds. Consider theft risk when choosing your bike.
sschoe2
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by sschoe2 »

FiveK wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:26 pm Riding on the sidewalk may be legally wrong but likely subject to a lower likelihood of serious injury. Riding in the road on a busy street w/o a bike lane may be legally correct but subject to a higher likelihood of serious injury.
As a avid cyclist I feel much better on most roads than sidewalks or multiuse paths. The MUP's are a bad combo of amateur cyclists, rollerbladers, walkers, dogs etc. It is important to choose your route's carefully though sometimes there is no alternative but to ride a stretch on a busy road. I should also point out that if you collide with someone on the sidewalk you may automatically be found liable just for being there even if the ped was meandering everywhere with headphones on watching a video on his phone.

I'd get a better bike than a townie. It depends how much stuff you carry but I would use a cyclocross/hybrid with disc brakes and fenders for rain. Also make sure you have a very secure place to park your bike at work as theft is a huge problem and pretty much no lock will offer 100% protection though heavy duty expensive chain or Ulock will detour opportunistic thiefs which is the majority. There are professionals with vices and angle grinders that can get through any lock in minutes.

You need to learn how to swap out a tube when you get a puncture and make basic adjustments. I recommend carrying a set of tire levers, a spare tube, a patch kit, and a good multitool.

Have a good light set. I use a Nightrider for night rides on the front and a basic red blinkie for the rear.

Get good cycling clothing for winter. A hinged balaclava, ski gloves, etc.

Hygiene: I take a shower before the ride and then use wet wipes and paper towels and DO to clean off at work and completely change clothes. I wash my head at the faucet and comb my hair.
alfaspider
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by alfaspider »

AnEngineer wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:00 pm
Johm221122 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:29 pm
FiveK wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:26 pm Riding on the sidewalk may be legally wrong but likely subject to a lower likelihood of serious injury. Riding in the road on a busy street w/o a bike lane may be legally correct but subject to a higher likelihood of serious injury.
Legal in my city and it's only 1 mile. I agree with you
Riding on the sidewalk can be less safe then you think, even without pedestrians. If you're going the 'wrong' way, then approaching cars won't look in your direction and may hit you. Even going the right way, you're traveling much faster than a pedestrian and much further to the side of the road compared to cars, so approaching cars won't look in your direction. Cars approaching your road or making a left turn from the other direction are likely your biggest concerns here, but also the right hook already mentioned can also occur (although this is less excusable).
This. In many situations, cycling on the sidewalk is considerably MORE dangerous than the road. It may seem counterintuitive, but sidewalks generally have very poor sight lines compared to streets, and neither drivers nor pedestrians are expecting fast moving cycling traffic on them. There are limited exceptions for very high speed roads with no shoulder or bike lanes that receive minimal pedestrian traffic (common in the outer suburbs), but on most urban roads, cycling on the sidewalk is a VERY bad and dangerous idea.
DWNY
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by DWNY »

Best thing I ever bought for winter bike commuting were pogies. They fit over the handlebars and with light gloves were good down to 0°F.
Here's a list of several makers https://bikepacking.com/gear/pogies/

As many said good lights are a must for night time riding and there are a lot of good daytime running lights to increase your visibility in daylight. Do everything you can to be visible.

I found fenders to be great. They kept me and the bike clean when roads were wet.
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