I think it would be very helpful to new-comers (and semi-new-comers like me) for people to simply tell what the conditions are where they ride and how they ride them. There is a great deal of collective wisdom in this forum, and I would love to hear others ideas. Again, no preconceived notions just a place for us to explain where and how we ride and why we choose to ride that way so others can learn from our ideas good or bad.
I ride in two distinctly different areas: Where I live and where I work.
Where I live:
Small town with all 25MPH speed limits and sidewalks where it is illegal to ride.
Here I ride in the roadway and take the lane wherever it is too narrow for a car to pass or where I need to stay out of the "door zone". This is typically not too much of an issue as there is seldom a great deal of traffic, and I can get pretty close to the speed limit. I do sometimes jump into a parking lot if there is one alongside the roadway where I can easily get back to the road to allow vehicles behind me to pass. Just to be courteous.
Where I work:
Just outside of my town is rural/suburbia with lots of 4 and 5 lanes roads with center turn lanes and 45-55 MPH speed limits. Most of this area is commercial with lots of heavily and not so heavily trafficked private drives. Along almost all of these roads are MUP's which are just wide sidewalks where it is legal to bike and they are offset from the road about 5'. I ride mostly on the MUP's as the roads here are like the wild west the rate of accidents being at least 10x what I would find in my city. I chose to ride the MUP's and take it slowly out here being very wary of private drives, etc, but my commute is only 5 miles and I ride an old MTB so going slow is not too hard . In the summer there is actually a fair amount of bicycle and pedestrian traffic on the MUP's so I have found that most drivers DO actually check the MUP's for traffic, most of the time.
EDIT: Type of Riding:
I am a utilitarian/commuter/MTBer. I don't race or own a roadie although I am not opposed to it.
So how and where do you ride, and what do you think of how I ride?
Note to MODS: It may be nice if people like this idea to make this thread a "reference only" one and move discussions to another thread.
Note to MODS: It may be nice if people like this idea to make this thread a "reference only" one and move discussions to another thread.
Moderator's Note: This is a sticky that gives people the opportunity to describe their communities in relation to their riding conditions, their riding style, and such. It is not for critiquing others' riding styles, or to be used as a platform for any advocacy agenda. If you have insight or suggestions for people. please contact the poster privately. If you have questions about these guidelines, do not fill this thread with them. Contact a moderator via PM. Please be aware that off-topic posts will be removed regularly.
I am strictly a commuter. I ride to get to work in the morning (usually before the busiest rush period), and I ride to get home (when it is a bit busier).
I live in a small city in which shoulders are very rare due to the topography of the area. Lanes are often narrow for the same reason. I generally ride in the rightmost travel lane, either in the right tire track or just to the right of it. When going downhill I get close to the 35 mph speed limits, and take the whole lane in those situations. When downtown near my work I take the lane in the 20 mph streets.
There are two roads with bike lanes that I ride on. One is a glorified shoulder, covered with debris. I ride in the bike lane, very near the car travel lane. The other is a terribly designed new bike lane, on a 2-lane, 20 mph street with head-in parking on the right side. I do not ride in this bike lane for fear of cars backing out.
I ride through stop signs and lights only if I am certain there is no traffic in them. I have split lanes to get closer to a light when all traffic is stopped. I always try to wave or say hi to fellow cyclists. I see 8-10 a week on average; less in the winter, more in the spring and fall.
Bikes: a lowrider BMX, a mountain bike, a faired recumbent, and a loaded touring bike
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I have ridden over 135,000 miles since 1972. My style of riding has changed over time. I haven't had an accident or "wiped out" in a very long time.
I no longer "sprint", or try to show motorists that I can do the speed limit. Your in a death trap if you do that. Motorists don't care that you're doing the speed limit, they are hell-bent on passing, and the more you make it look like a race, the more furious they get.
I ride near the white line, about two feet from the white line most of the time. If the road curves right, I check my rear view mirror and I go strait , to avoid disappearing from view of the motorist behind me. I double check and pivot my neck to make eye contact with the driver. I make sure the driver has reached the 'apex' of the curve before I signal right and move right. I almost go as far left as the yellow line , but It's better to be seen the whole time, not disappearing and then reappearing to the motorist.
When I'm on a road that has a shoulder, or lane-margin, I ride on it, but within two feet of the white line to avoid debris. If I come to a parked car, I check my mirror and make a judgement call; sometimes I stop and wait for cars to pass before I pass the parked car.
If I come to broken glass, I stop, park my bike against the curb, and sweep the broken glass aside with a little corn-whisk, while facing traffic. I secure the whisk-broom to my brake cable with a carribiner.
I always wear an orange vest with "strong-yellow-green" reflective stripes.
I use lights at night, but I heard that Daylight Savings Time begins March 11th this year, is that right?.
I've been riding in the roads since I was a small child. Most of my miles over the last 40+ years have been from commuting or recreational rides both in and outside of the US. I'm one of those folks who never really gave up riding once I learned to drive...mostly because of economic necessity, but really because I just love to ride. As a kid from a big family, it was my alone time, my free time, and that has never really changed.
At present I live in a ruralish town just south of Cleveland, OH. where the majority of the roads I ride are either narrow country roads with little or no shoulder and 35mph+ speed limits, or highways with better shoulders and faster speed limits. Bike lanes are rare around here, but there are some in some of the larger suburbs and in Cleveland itself.
I work in a small town that sits smack in the middle of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park that is very popular for cyclists due to its trailhead to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath, bike shop with rentals and a very popular road 'loop' used by the area club racers and roadies. Because we're in the river valley the riding is flat to rolling, until you want to get out of the valley, in which case you better have some climbing legs.
My commute to and from work is about 50 miles round trip, which I do 3-4 days a week in the spring, summer and fall, taking a day or two to drive so I can replenish supplies & clothing and run errands. I find commuting that distance much more enjoyable if I don't have to lug clothes and food all the time...many think I already carry way too much stuff for normal rec rides! In the winter I drive part way, park, then ride the remaining 13 miles, reversing the process on the ride home. The roads on my commute are mostly narrow, rolling country roads, though I can use part of the O&E towpath if I want to enjoy the scenery.
During my time off I am pretty much a tourer, either doing day trips, over-nighters or multiple-day tours, in addition to some organized metrics, centuries and charity rides. I love doing long-distance self-supported tours, but it's been about 3 years since the last time I managed the time off to do so.
The only real problems I have riding the roads are just the usual impatience, arrogance and lack of courtesy that has seemed to become our national identity over the last 40 years. But I ride like I drive...courteously, predictably, according to the law, paying attention to everything that is going on around me, always expecting the other guy to do the stupidest thing possible and being ready for him to do so...which I call 'planning for Murphy'. I try to be as visible as possible, using active lighting on the bike and passive reflectivity on both the bike and my clothing/gear. I rarely use a helmet, though I do wear one when required and on some of my snowy/icy winter rides. I've never had a serious injury from riding a bike and feel safer on my bike than driving a car.
I presently have 5 bikes...an old 80ish Bianchi xcross bike that is my favorite and primary commuter, an 86 Bianchi road bike that I use for recreational rides, but also ride to work if I get the urge, a Fuji World touring bike for loaded touring and commutes, a single-speed for my winter (non-snow) commute and nice rides on the towpath, and my snow bike, which is a hybrid fitted with fenders and studded tires.
I also love puppies, want to save the dolphins and promote world peace, like any good Miss America contestant.
As my name suggests, I mainly ride to and from work, year round. I do a little recreational riding (I've done one century), but I've never done a group ride. I ride a Surly Cross check. See the first couple posts of the Advice for New Commuters thread for how I equip it.
I have two basic choices for my commute--roads and MUP. The roads are 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 miles each way, depending on the route. The route I take most often is mostly a 3-lane 35 mph one-way street. It usually takes 20-25 minutes to ride.
There is a good MUP, but it's a litte out of my way. It usually takes 30-35 minutes.
I ride regardless of the conditions. Snow, rain, ice, whatever. I sold a car to get my bike, and I use the money I save from not driving to get good equipment.
I've been riding since I was five years old and riding on the streets since I was eight (I might have riden earlier, but that's my earliest memory of street riding).
I expect to edit this for content over the next few days.
Last edited by Daily Commute; 03-01-07 at 04:19 PM.
Bikes: 1980 Schwinn World Sport, 1982 Schwinn Super Le Tour, 1984 (?) Univega Single Speed/Fixed conversion, Kogswell G58 fixed gear, 1987 Schwinn Super Sport
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I used to commute 14 miles a day on city streets when I lived in Portland. Now that I am retired and no longer live in Portland, I ride for recreation/fitness and short trips around town. Most of my riding now is on two lane country roads with low traffic volume. I have not had any trouble or serious conflicts with auto traffic since I moved here in 1992. There are a few bike lanes in Scappoose and St Helens... some better than others.
If I go to Portland or Sauvie Island or to St. Helens, I use US 30, a four lane highway with a 2-way left turn lane in the middle and wide, paved shoulder/bike lane for most of it's length. The speed limit outside of the towns is 55... actual average speed is somewhat higher and, as it is a major thoroughfare, there is a lot of truck traffic. I feel safe using this road but I make an extra effort at being more attentive in the more densely populated areas.
As the weather improves this spring, I plan to do more riding on the gravel back roads and rail-trails in the Coast Range.
In addition to the bikes in my signature, I also ride a SS MTB
I ride about five miles daily to and from the office - rain, shine, or snow. I own two bikes, an old Schwinn Le Tour (1973) and my "new" bike, a 2005 Cannondale Cyclocross Disc. Since buying the C'dale, I rarely ride the trusty old Schwinn. I keep the Schwinn tuned up for the kids to ride when they are home.
Although the C'dale will take wider tires, I have it fitted with 23 cm and ride those all year long. I confess that they proved quite dicey during the four or five days this February when we experienced some real snow (which has, unfortunately, become almost a novelty in our area). I can control my bike in three to four inches of powdery snow, but, this year, we received a combination of snow and a sort of "snow-cone" ice that reached a total depth of about six inches. The skinny tires couldn't seem to reach deep enough quickly enough to prevent a sort of "snow-hydroplane" effect that would effectively stall my progress. On hard-pack, the tires would break intermittently break through the surface causing me to constantly squirm around making correction after correction. Some wider rubber would probably have helped greatly. Where I could follow a tire track, I rode - I walked the bike in other areas. I am somewhat proud and very happy to report that, through all that weather and over all the various degrees of snow, glaze, ice, black ice, and slush, I didn't take a single spill. I can't say that I enjoyed those rides, however, but, I rode the bike just to prove to myself that I could do it. On the couple of worst days, as some of my coworkers sat stranded in their cars out on I-78 for 24 hrs, and others decided not to venture out altogether, I was the only one who made it to work, so riding the bike does have redeeming qualities beyond even exercise.
In total, I think there were only three or four snowy days where I really lamented not being equipped for a better grip, so, given the relatively few days where we experience that kind of weather around here, I doubt that I will ever invest in a second set of wheels/tires.
Work is in the Reading, PA area - home is outside Philly. During the summer months, I'll often take extended rides on weekday evenings over some of the back country roads outside of Reading - sometimes traveling the 50 or so miles to French Creek State Park and back (out during last light, back in the dark). I never allow a weekend to pass during winter or summer without taking at least one longer ride (50 - 80 miles). My style varies depending on what I feel like doing that day. Some days, I'll take a long ride and see how fast I can cover the distance. On other days, I put on my music and take a much more leisurely trip.
On some weekends, I'll ride from the northern PA suburbs north into the Princeton, NJ area on mostly posh but lightly traveled two-lane roads with no center or shoulder stripes. On other days, I'll ride to and through several of the state parks in the area. On other days, I'll ride down into Philly through the Broad Street traffic to City Hall and back.
Like Chipcom, I try to ride predictably, courteously, without challenging auto drivers, even if, on occasion, they challenge or aggravate me. Once in a while, I fall short in my effort to avoid confrontation, but those occasions seem to grow more and more infrequent.
I love riding - it gives me great peace of mind, and, even though I carry a cell phone with me, it stays in my trunk bag and rarely gets answered if it rings. Having figured out what seems to me a safe and effective way to pipe music to my ears allows me to marry my two greatest passions in life.
I have enjoyed accident-free riding for the most part. Back in 2002 the rear wheel of my Schwinn pancaked on me (folded up like an omelet) causing me to spill while moving along at 25 mph. Those were my pre-helmet days. I fractured my right arm and needed some stitches in my scalp. Last June I was right-hooked and suffered a bruised knee and badly bruised muscles/skin on my left arm. Those are the only noteworthy mishaps I have suffered during many years of riding.
I feel that, during my lifetime, I have been blessed with the opportunity to ride during an era when bikes were (are) in a state of advanced development. Although the Schwinn (especially in stock form) seems a little basic compared to my C'dale, it is (was, even in stock form) a darned nice piece of riding stock compared to the stuff I rode as a kid. I cannot describe (and am certain I don't even need to here) the pleasure I feel as I cruise along effortlessly at 15 or so miles per hour, the bike totally silent save for the slight hum of the wheels as they roll over the pavement. We have access to a wide choice of inexpensive, effective equipment (lights, pedals, shoes) that greatly enhance and extend the riding experience.
I am ever amazed as I realize that my bike takes me places and allows me to see things that most folks who don't ride will never see. It's a great feeling.
I ride mostly for commuting to work but do ride just for the fun of it also. Commute is 5.5 miles each way and I have bike lanes or designated bike routes the whole way. I try my best to obey the traffic laws and to ride predictably. I use lights and have some ANSI lime green shirts I wear when riding to work, my neighbors have commented on being able to see all the way down the street so they work. I started riding for fitness but now I ride every chance I get.
I use my bike just like most people use a car. It is my primary transportation for all reasons and purposes. I live in a small metro area of about 150,000 souls. I ride a MTB on city streets, suburban roads, MUPs, unpaved trails, alleys, etc. In the summer I take longer road trips into the countryside. I love ice riding in the winter.
On streets and roads I ride in a vehicular fashion, meaning that I follow the laws and ride right in the mix with the cars and stuff. I occasionally take shortcuts on sidewalks and alleys or anyplace I can find them. I especially enjoy finding strange routes across the city, utilizing all types of facilities and surfaces.
I live in a small town/suburb of Pittsburgh. I generally ride in residential or city streets. There are many hills where I live and highways are generally dangerous because they are twisty and have no shoulder. In town I keep around 3' of room between me and parked cars (so I don't get doored). On highways I try to aim for white line or ride on the shoulder if it exists.
Where: Primarily New England and the Boston area but I have ridden across the US twice and Canada once. I also travel frequently for my work and either rent a bike or bring a folder for trips in the US or Europe. I've lived in NYC and commuted around Manhattan and from Brooklyn to mid-town. I've ridden in 41 of the states and most every Canadian province.
Types of riding: I've been a transportation cyclist since age 15 and have commuted to every regular job I've ever had for the last 35 years. My longest round trip commute was 72 miles a day, which I did 3 times per week. My current commute, which I do daily, is a round trip of 21 miles in and out of downtown Boston. I qualified for the nationals as a junior racer and raced Cat 1 and 2 as a senior racer. I've done triathlons and lots and lots of long distance touring, day trips and club,recreational/training riding. I also mountain bike in Western Massachusetts. Most of my riding these days is a combination of commuting, transportation, road rides and mountain bike rides. I ride a bike path into Boston frequently and am just as comfortable on Boston streets.
I use an REI Buzz as my commuter/transportation work horse, a 1976 custom made Reynolds 531 lugged steel frame with upgraded components is my road bike, I have a da Hon folder (Helios), an Atala tandem and a Gary Fisher Super Caliber for off-road. In the 1970's I worked as a mechanic in some of the best and some of the worst bike shops in Rhode Island and Boston.
Since I do a variety of riding in a variety of circumstances it's hard to pin me down in terms of cycling "style". I obey traffic laws for the most part but I occasionally roll through stop signs and will sometimes get the jump on a line of traffic at a red light after a full stop. I ride all winter but mostly just as a commuter/grocery store/errand runner. In the summer I'm on the road bike and love climbs and long, all day road rides.
Bikes: the ever shifting stable loaded with comfortable road bikes and city and winter bikes
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I live pretty much in and around big city, downtown Seattle. I use my bike for ALL my errands, even ones that require a 60 mile trip (unless I'm picking up plywood sheets or lumber). I own a car that sits unused but 10 or so days a year.
I ride my bikes as my transportation and for recreation. I commute minimum of 7 miles each way to work, and extend that quite a bit for additional exercise. I usually ride 6 days a week unless I'm on a climbing or ski trip. I take tours on my bike for vacation, up into the mountains and across the mountains.
I ride the interstates and the state highways, country roads, suburban 8 lane 45mph arterials, 4 lane city arterials, two lane city streets, dirt roads, rails to trails, gravel roads, two track and single track. I ride the urban core, in suburbia, the countryside, and the wilderness.
For mileage this week, I've ridden on all types of roads in the greater Seattle metropolitan area -except interstate freeway miles- and will finish the week up at about 150-160 miles.(Feb-Mar 2007.) Summer I'm up to 250- 325 miles a week quite a bit if I'm fitting in weekend blitz tours. The city has only 4 percent bike laned roads, so i'm usually in the thick of traffic.
I don't take a lot of pictures while in heavy traffic. tough to break out the camera on rolling, eight lane, 45 mile per hour suburban arterials. BUT, here are some pictures showing the variety in my recreation and commuting environment.
Oh, yeah, I'm a high mileage, ADAPTIVE bicyclist. & VERY THANKFUL I get to ride as much as I do
i ride a mtb, both on the trail & for my commutes/fun rides/errands. co-workers go out of their way to let me know they saw me someplace. ne indiana, city of 200k+, only marginally bike-friendly. sidewalks are allowed most areas -- i'll do what i hafta to keep going. my commute was about 20mi/day, but i changed locations, and the trip went down to 5+; i started real quick looking for the long way in and the long way home. the only part of the ride i don't love is the idiot driver that thinks he can bluff me out of his way -- and there are a few. somebody once wrote that, for the first 250 feet, they're as fast as Lance Armstrong. for me, the first 50 are the reminder that i'm not burdened by feet on the ground. it gets better as i leave the driveway for the street, and stays good until i have to put a foot down again. a few times, i made the whole commute without dabbing!
I keep a list of bike types I ride in my signature. Lately I have been riding my upright mountain bike the most, but I go through phases.
How do I ride?
I live in Santa Barbara. In my environment I ride almost all the time either on residential streets that may or may not have bike lanes, on 35 or 45 mph one, two or four lane roads (one or two in each direction, or one lane one-way) that do have bike lanes, or on Class I bike paths. Only rarely do I tread into the wealthier areas where the roads are narrow, usually have no shoulder or bike lane, and are very curvy and hilly. Too much effort. I do like to ride up the mountain sometimes, though. The mountain road has no lanes at all and is very steep.
I always ride in the bike lane when one is there. I ride in it all the time, all the way to the intersection. Only rarely do I leave the bike lane. I rarely find it necessary. I've got a set of tools for dealing with any problems that might arrise riding this way.
When there isn't a bike lane I ride as far to the right as practicable. If that means that I'm riding in the space where parked cars might otherwise be, I will do that if the gap between them is large. Otherwise I ride outside the door zone of even imaginary cars.
If the bike lane is too close to the door zone I will ride far enough way not to feel I am in it. Sometimes I have to ride my bike close to the door zone because streets can be narrow here. Not a big deal. There are tactics for dealing with door zone riding.
If there are bushes or other obstructions of the view of me by people on sidestreets I'll move left a bit at those places, but not very much left. Maybe out to the right tire track. Otherwise I stay to the right.
If I need to turn left I use the left turn lane. It's not very hard to merge over when most of your streets have only one lane in each direction. Sometimes congestion makes it hard to merge over, so I will employ adaptive techniques, such as the two-corner turn or using the crosswalk.
I enjoy riding on the bike paths. I ride on them at times of the day and days of the week when there is very little non-bike traffic. Some of the bike paths I ride on never have very much non-bike traffic no matter what time or day. I figure I have already lived at least half my life so I have nothing to prove and ought to spend what time remains enjoying myself rather than proving myself. I enjoy the hawks and ducks, the croaking of frogs, the fresh air and views of the bike path.
Currently my commute is 7 miles. That's about the right distance for someone like me. There have been long stretches of my life when I didn't ride much, usually because it wasn't practical, like it was too far or I had to drive around once I got to work. I feel pretty lucky these days.
I'm not some hard-core, super fast cyclist. About half the people pass me and the other half I pass. I'm overweight, my leg hurts, I had a hysterectomy 2 years ago (and it has taken 2 years to heal from it) so I'm not about to pretend I can ride like Lance.
I carry a lot of heavy crap with me. I may also stop to buy some groceries. I ride heavy bikes. Since I'm old and worn out and weighed down and I pass as many people as pass me, I'm pretty sure most people who boast about going 35-30 mph no problem are lying.
I wear my normal clothes most of the time when I ride to work or wherever, unless it is hot or I'm riding with a recumbent cycling club I sometimes ride with. Then I'll wear loose-fitting cycling clothes.
I'm a mainly utilitarian rider, though I often ride for fun, too. 90% of my travel is by bike, because I gave up the car. I have an old steel-frame hard-tail hybrid bike with road tires, platform pedals, and a rack with panniers. When fully loaded, the rig weighs a ton. I rarely go much faster than 25 mph, mostly because I live in a hilly city with dense traffic. It's a large urban area with a mostly bicycling-friendly culture, but stangely enough, very little bicycle-specific infrastructure. As a result, the vast majority of my riding is VC, though I prefer to ride on MUPs, if they happen to take me where I want to go. I mostly ride on 30-35 mph arterials and residential streets. I avoid main roads with speed limits exceeding 40 mph unless I have no choice. I don't ride on sidewalks, and I do try to maintain a civil relationship with the many motorists I encounter. (I've had very few altercations with motorists, and only one where the driver questioned my right to be on the road.)
I ride MTB in a medium sized town in Cnada, year round. I ride on the road like I belong there and have every right to be there. My bike is kept in excellent mechanical shape and I follow all the rules and laws of the road. One of the rules is that he who is bigger wins, ie: don't play chicken or take chances with a few tons of metal as an opponent. One of the laws says it's ok for me to pass on the right if it is safe to do so (Ontario, Canada), ie: I ride to the front of the line in traffic. I wear a helmet and my bike exceeds local laws for lights, brakes and reflectors. I do not carry things in my hands and have a not too big ergonomic pack to carry small things in. Been commuting for better part of 20 years without an accident.
Last edited by RomSpaceKnight; 03-09-07 at 10:13 PM.
Bikes: 1990 Paul Dye Hand Built 7 Speed, 1965 Raleigh Sport, Folding 26" Tourer
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I live in a rural province in New Zealand, and commute to my job two towns and 22 miles away 3.5 times a week (4 on 4 off roster). The road I take is a provincial highway with mostly a 2-3 foot shoulder which I use. The speed limit is 100 kmh (63 mph) outside towns, and half of that in towns.
I tend to follow the same rules as the cars at intersections, merging with them when I am only doing the same speed as them. At all other times I use the shoulder. Theres only 3 intersections in that entire length anyhow, and only one I regularly need to slow for. No traffic lights at all in the any of the towns I ride through, which is good. It sounds like a real *****.
Theres only one bike path in the entire south part of the province, where I ride. It's between the 2nd town and the industrial site I work at. Unfortunately it's pathetically ill suited to it's use. It's meant to be a two way path and pedestrians use it too (illegally). It's about 3 feet wide. NZ law states you must use a bike path if an adequateone is available. I only use it in the daytime, and exit it to the road if I see someone approaching from the opposite direction. If it's dark you can't necessarily see the pedestrians, or for that matter the 'no front light' genius's who inhabit my place of work.
where I live: residential area intersperced with commercial development in a large metro area (Phoenix, AZ)
Where I work: about five miles away in an office park setting
type of riding: Road bike, mostly all commuting, some utilitarian. my typical route includes 25 mph streets, bike lanes, sidewalks,and WOLs, and about 3-4 stoplights... I go through residential, commercial areas and cut through a university campus on my way to work...
"Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen
Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me
i know i posted once, but i feel like i should once more....
as i said before, fat tires, so i won't be busting 20mph on level ground any time soon for a sustained period of time -- a few seconds here and there.... besides the wonderful utility and versatility of the MTB, i require the assistance of suspension to preserve the weak link in my personal chain, the 3 herniated lumbar discs i have seen in MRI's. suss posts on HT or tourers don't do the job.
i commute, because any time i can get on the bike is good time; i'm never as alive as when i'm on the bike. that may be sad to some, but it's reality. the weight of the many other things in my life just isn't felt in the saddle. i can be alone or with others, just passing time or pursuing a destination, having a good romp or communing with my Creator -- all of it in a frame of mind that's more positive and receptive.
i do agree that, on the road, bikes should ride according to the law. that means not against traffic, going from curb to curb between cars, or meandering in rush hour, things like that. cyclists have a responsibility to ride properly, as drivers have a responsibility to drive properly. that quite a few drivers do NOT do so requires an extra measure of safety awareness on the part of the cyclist. it means, occasionally, that i will jump on the sidewalk to get where i'm going; it means that i have to endure vitriol from motorists who do not know the law and couldn't care less about it.
i frequently ride either with my daughter and/or my nephew (who rides in a trailer). my daughter is approaching the end of the "novice" stage of development, but there is no way she is ready for "v.c." she doesn't yet possess the skill set, reflexes, or ingrained training to react appropriately. so i shield her as she develops. (i remember a time when she rode in the same trailer at a much younger age; a discourteous driver approached too closely to the trailer, scared her, and it was two weeks before she'd get back in the trailer. i was riding 'vc' at the time.)
except for these family rides, i generally ride in a 'heart-rate zone' instead of a specific speed; if i'm not above 140 bpm, i'm slacking. (i'm a clyde who's close enough to 5-0 to see it on the horizon) i am carfree, happily so, and will remain so as long as humanly possible. my health numbers are good, so i will continue doing what i do.