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  1. #1
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    My first week of commuting and what Iīve learned

    I just finished my first week of commuting on my new job, and since no one at home wants to hear me talk about it, Iīll just post here.

    I have no idea how long it is. But ítīs about 25 blocks from where I work. Around 100 and 200 meters each block, so it might be about 3 or 4 km? each way.

    I hate Stoplights
    there is a stop light on EACH AND EVERY block.
    Traffic flows but is heavy, and itīs almost impossible to get all green lights, so It takes me almost half an hour to get there.

    On the way there I have bike lane all the way.
    On the way home itīs almost all the way on the road with the cars.

    Hate the bikelanes. There is allways someone parked there, or big holes, or something that makes me get into the road. Which Iīm not very good at. I still canīt look over my shoulder without loosing some control.
    Also at a few points, the bikelane merges from the road to bikelanes in the sidewalk. Of course no ped respect those, so I had to do a lot maneuvering to avoid an accident.
    Specially dangerous are: Kids, Old people with shopping carts, young people with headphones, anyone getting on or off the buses at bustops.
    I get a lot of runners speeding for the leaving bus crossing in front of me out of nowhere, or clueless people dropping off the bus into the bikelane without watching.
    There is one spot, that I had to get off the bike to cross the street because thereīs too many people. Itīs just out of a metro station.

    Iīm definetely getting a cheesy bell or something. People, the sidewalk is 20 meters wide, just leave me my 2 meters of bikelane, please. And when I say, "coming through" or "excuse me" or "watch out", or "get the F. out of the way" it means.. "hey you! Please be aware, you are on the bikelane and we donīt want to crash, do we?"

    Iīm feeling much more comfortable on the road.
    I just take the whole right lane. I ride in the middle of it. If I move even a little to the right, then everyone wants to pass me with not enough room, so with me in front, they will have to wait.
    I have found that drivers here are not rude with bikes, but are somehow caothic. I mean, no one honks or yells at me, no one seems to be bothered with me by taking the whole lane, but they do a lot of maneuvers I shure wouldnīt do if I were driving. No one runs stoplights, but they do a lot of last minute lane changing without lights, and a lot of sudden stops (mainly cabs) and stuff like that.
    Still I like the road better than the bikelane.

    Thursdays and Fridays the biggest problem are other cyclist:
    I donīt know why, but these last two days there were many bikes on the road. Too many for the little space on the bikelane, so a lot of them do risky stuff that had me scared a few times.

    A few other things
    The last block I have to go into a very narrow and broken sidewalk or on the road against traffic. Luckily itīs almost allways empty so no big deals there.

    On wednesday I felt my legs couldnīt handle the ride anymore. Very sore. But I still rode on thursday, and today coming home I was feeling in very good shape. I donīt know, before commuting I was ridding a couple of hours without much soreness, and surely half an hour without no soreness at all. Donīt know what happened.

    I get to keep my bike in the office so I can leave the HEAVY chain lock at the post I park my bike at nights. Thatīs cool.

    And one last thing. Besides this job, I will start on a second job weekends nights, so Iīll be doing some night rides. Something tells me I might enjoy night better.
    Iīll also post on that experience.

    Now, itīs out of my system.

  2. #2
    It's true, man.
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    Yeah, that last minute lane changing to get in the shorter line/perceived 'best' lane or whatever is gonna take me right out, one day. As far as seeing more bikes on Thurs and Fri, I'm guessing gas prices are playing a part, there.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by truman
    As far as seeing more bikes on Thurs and Fri, I'm guessing gas prices are playing a part, there.
    Sshhh! Koffee will hear you!
    Sin after sin I have endured, but the wounds I bear are the wounds of love.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatdogvinn
    I get a lot of runners speeding for the leaving bus crossing in front of me out of nowhere, or clueless people dropping off the bus into the bikelane without watching.
    There is one spot, that I had to get off the bike to cross the street because thereīs too many people. Itīs just out of a metro station.
    .
    Another concern would be to avoid playing leap frog with the bus at all costs. Although you don't see it (unless it's winter), the bus is dumping loads of toxic exhaust and you're breathing it! Second, these drivers know how to ride their vehicle and some will get real close when passing. A very dangerous situation if you ask me. Remember. The bus is a danger.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    Another concern would be to avoid playing leap frog with the bus at all costs. Although you don't see it (unless it's winter), the bus is dumping loads of toxic exhaust and you're breathing it! Second, these drivers know how to ride their vehicle and some will get real close when passing. A very dangerous situation if you ask me. Remember. The bus is a danger.
    Luckily I donīt ride behind the buses. The bikelanes are on streets with no bus lanes.
    But when the bikelane on the road ends, and merges with the sidewalk, that sidewalk is at the side of the largest avenue on town, with a lot of buses and traffic. So the problem is not the bus, but their zombiefied cargo, that drops or hops there.

  6. #6
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    There's no longer an excuse for not knowing how far you ride. Go to here and figure it out. (EDIT: unless you're in Paris where they have metro stations, but that measurement utility doesn't work, oops). If you're not familiar with google maps (which they based this utility on), use the minus button on the zoom bars in the upper left of the map to zoom out (you'll soon discover you are looking down at New Jersey) then use the directional buttons in the upper upper left, or drag the map until you are over your route, and zoom in. Hit the "start recording" button, then double click points along your route to measure it.
    Robert
    Last edited by cooker; 09-02-05 at 06:25 PM. Reason: improve

  7. #7
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    Thatīs a cool app. Thanks.

    I just measured my ride, and iīts 2.9 km each way.
    Thatīs 10 minutes for Km.
    Man I hate stoplights. I know there is one stoplight that takes almost 3 minutes to change. Itīs insane, and Itīs probably one of the only three stoplight I cannot skip.

    My night job commute is just 1.6 Km. I just might do that walking if not because riding is fun.

    Total commute distance = less than 40km a week.
    Not that I care much about that, but itīs better than one of my previous jobs.. freelancing from home

  8. #8
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Yeah, stop-and-go cycling is very unnerving and physically demanding.... I'd rather ride 10 km on a road with no stops than 3 km with stops at every block. If I were in your position, fatdogvinn, I'd look for alternative routes, I think. Bike lanes merging with sidewalks is another thing I don't like the sound of at all.

  9. #9
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    Hey chephy, go check the link that cooker posted, and go to Spain, Barcelona. (or here )

    See that extremely well planned city grid design on most parts of the city?
    Each and every block on that area has a stoplight.
    My commute is 99% on that grid part.

    Just to get out of my place, I have at least 10 stoplights on any direction, except southeast, which is only 5 stoplights.

    So there is no escaping the stoplights..

    Well... Depending on the street, day of the week and time of day I will just jump the red lights.

    I donīt want to start a discussion on this subject, but on many intesection you can actually see no cars on the horizon, and you can see on the map that the corners are cutted, each block having 6 sides. So I position myself on the space where the corner should be, Itīs very safe.

    Actually the bikelanes are marked on (painted red) to that space so even if you donīt jump the red light, you can position yourself in that area and have nice headstart when it turns green, because cars do have to stop before that area. So bikes have an advantage view which cars donīt. They have to wait because they cannot see what is coming.

    Also each street is one way only, so itīs not dangerous at all if done right.
    (well IF you havenīt seen a map then all this might not make sense at all).

    For example I did a route test one sunday before commuting and It took me half the time. On a week day, Itīs just impossible to skip any stoplight. So Iīll have to deal with it.

  10. #10
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatdogvinn
    Hey chephy, go check the link that cooker posted, and go to Spain, Barcelona.
    See that extremely well planned city grid design on most parts of the city?

    Each and every block on that area has a stoplight.
    My commute is 99% on that grid part.
    Yikes! I see! ... Well, at least one isn't likely to get lost in that part of town.

  11. #11
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    You can get a helmet(/glasses)-mounted mirror like "Take-a-Look" and get comfortable using it. It will greatly increase your awareness of what's happening behind you without having to turn around all the time.
    Quote Originally Posted by fatdogvinn
    Hate the bikelanes. There is allways someone parked there, or big holes, or something that makes me get into the road. Which Iīm not very good at. I still canīt look over my shoulder without loosing some control.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by naane
    You can get a helmet(/glasses)-mounted mirror like "Take-a-Look" and get comfortable using it. It will greatly increase your awareness of what's happening behind you without having to turn around all the time.
    Yeah, last night I was searching for that kind of stuff here on the forum.
    I havenīt seen those around here, not on shops, and certainly not on people.
    I think they look a little funny, but If I could I might give those a try.

  13. #13
    Walkafire
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    incredibell?



    "Your Quote"
    ""Iīm definetely getting a cheesy bell or something. People, the sidewalk is 20 meters wide, just leave me my 2 meters of bikelane, please. And when I say, "coming through" or "excuse me" or "watch out", or "get the F. out of the way" it means.. "hey you! Please be aware, you are on the bikelane and we donīt want to crash, do we?"""

  14. #14
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    They may look odd, but work well! You can find the "Take-a-Look" on ebay for $12.95 all the time; I have ordered a couple from this vendor and have had no issues (with shipping/ins., it comes out to $16 and change).
    Quote Originally Posted by fatdogvinn
    Yeah, last night I was searching for that kind of stuff here on the forum.
    I havenīt seen those around here, not on shops, and certainly not on people.
    I think they look a little funny, but If I could I might give those a try.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Seanholio's Avatar
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    Buy an Airzound horn. Guaranteed to get the attention of pedestrians in your way.
    If you ride, ride with RoadID.
    2005 Gunnar Crosshairs My new ride

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seanholio
    Buy an Airzound horn. Guaranteed to get the attention of pedestrians in your way.
    A little exensive for what I paid for my bike.
    But if the $3 bell doesnīt work, I just might consider one.
    I could use it as a "coming through" signal and a stress reliever.

    I was thinking of getting a horn that plays "la cucaracha". But I donīt think they make those for bicycles.

  17. #17
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    A whistle is an effective attention getter for peds, cars and trucks. Tell us something about your work - its nice to be able to bring your bike into the office.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    A whistle is an effective attention getter for peds, cars and trucks. Tell us something about your work - its nice to be able to bring your bike into the office.
    Whistle... mmm.. me thinks cheap.

    Iīm work at a small Design & printing, family owned, company. There is only 5 of us working there, and since most of the printing has been outsorced, they have a big room on the back where the owner has two trial bikes (motor), and other stuff. So itīs fine for me to leave the bike there.

  19. #19
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    MY SECOND WEEK AND WHAT IīVE LEARNED:

    Well, last week was my second week commuting, and since still no one at home wants to hear about it I will just post.

    Wind sucks.
    Iīve just been reading a lot of people complaining about wind, and I just thought it only affected sport bikers and high performance kind of people. I was wrong.
    Well, last tuesday it was raining and there was a lot of wind. I mean the kind of wind that flips umbreallas inside out.
    Not only did my commute felt like I was going uphill all the way (my commute is almost flat all the way, and of course no tailwind).. but the wind almost knocked me down a couple of times. It felt like someone was pushing and pulling my bike. That was a bit scary. Mostly because the wind will go and attack me again by surprise.
    I did find that riding along sides of cars helped, but I donīt feel safe having cars so close to me all the time.

    Chinese are the coolest
    Thereīs a lot of chinese folks riding bikes on this city. And they all seem to enjoy the ride. They all have big happy smiles. Most of them ride crappy bikes to big or too small for them. They all go at a slow paced no hurrys speed. They smile.

    They can go in big busy scary streets with the cool head needed for this. They donīt seem to have any problem at all. They keep smiling.

    They can be on those busy sidewalk bikelanes I hate, and they will just cruise on them like they were just walking. They donīt bother anyone, no one bothers them. They continue to smile.

    Uphill on a bmx style with no gears? they ride with their knees at shoulder height... smiling.

    They are just part of the city flow. I mean, I havenīt noticed there were so many of them until I started commuting.
    Iīm pretty sure most of these folks come from a very chaothic traffic city were they have been on bikes since they where kids, so itīs kind of natural for them.
    And their smiling... itīs so cool to see this people smiling while everyone else seems so stressed.

    I am fat and my tires need air every week.
    Or at least I hope so. Both fridays before I left work, I sat on my bike and saw the back tire way too low. I just pumped some air until it felt right.
    I hope It is just that, because I will be in trouble if I got a flat. I have no idea how to remove the back tire. I do carry one spare tube, a small pump and tire levers. Iīm sure I can manage myself to change the tube, but removing and putting back the back tire... well I will manage, but how long will it take me?
    My commute is short, so Iīd just probalby walk the bike depending on the point Iīm at.

    Yeah I know I should do some testing at home, Iīm just too lazy to carry the bike upstairs to my flat.

    Iīm not as tight anymore
    I still feel some butterflies on my gut before leaving, but once on the road, I feel more comfortable. Specially among cars. Ped still fire my Red Alert.
    I have improved a lot my head turning. Still need some work, but Iīm getting there.
    I still cannot get my hands off the handles for too long. And Iīm starting to guess it has something to do with the geomtry of the bike as I read in another thread.

    Second job on weekends itīs starting to piss me off
    I havenīt started yet, but this company seems very unorganized to me. This has nothing to do with riding, except that I bought lights to the night rides to get there, and now it seems I wonīt be needing them anytime soon.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatdogvinn
    I am fat and my tires need air every week.
    Or at least I hope so. Both fridays before I left work, I sat on my bike and saw the back tire way too low. I just pumped some air until it felt right.
    You should really buy a floor pump (as cheap as $15-20 at places like Performance and Supergo) and get in the habit of topping off your tires every morning before you leave the house. Buy one that has an integrated pressure gauge. Tubes unfortunately don't really hold air that well, and underinflated tires are almost a gaurantee for pinch flats.

    Removing the back wheel is really no different than removing the front wheel, assuming your bike has quick-release skewers on both. The only added annoyance is that you have to pull the derailer with your hand to get the chain away from the cogs. It takes about 10 seconds longer than removing the front wheel.

    - Warren

  21. #21
    Reading Rocks!!! david.l.k's Avatar
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    Ya I just got one of those helmet mirror's and they are great. It took me a bit of riding to get the hang of, but I love it, I have such great awarness of the road because I can just scan behind me periodically to have an accurate mental map of a all the car's behind me. Also thank's to chroot I've been a little curiouse why I always have to pump my tires up, I thought it was just me or something, but it makes sense. I will start topping them off every day.
    I sympathise about the wind I ride along the lakeshore so on some day's I can end up batteling some crazy winds. I have an alternate route on day's that I think it will be windy (if I'm not up to the challange).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by naane
    You can get a helmet(/glasses)-mounted mirror like "Take-a-Look" and get comfortable using it. It will greatly increase your awareness of what's happening behind you without having to turn around all the time.
    Mirrors can be great -- although I always have a hell of a hard time keeping them adjusted right -- but they're not a substitute for checking over your shoulder before a turn or late change. Turning your head gives you a better field of vision than any mirror can, and helps you communicate more clearly with drivers. (Actually, that last point is one reason why I also like to have a mirror...it lets me keep track of what's going on behind me, without accidentally giving the impression that I'm about to move left when I'm not.)

    Fatdogvinn, it's been a week or so since your first post to this topic, so you may already have gotten the hang of looking over your shoulder while continuing to ride a straight line...if not, you may want to practice that skill specifically sometime when you've got the road to yourself. The key is to relax your upper body as much as possible; if your muscles are tense, then when you turn your head it will pull your shoulders and torso with it, and you'll steer left. With a little practice, you'll get to the point where you can turn your head left or right, look for a half second or so, then turn forward again, without deviating from your path by more than a couple inches. (I'm probably the least flexible human being ever born, so if I can learn to do this, anyone can!)

    - Paul

  23. #23
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    In my town the main street has stop lights every half a block. But there are numerous streets parallel to it that have little or no stop lights. Just cause the street you have chosen is the most direct, or has the most bike lanes or whatever doesn't mean it's actually the best street to take. Try another street. Your ride is so short you can probably afford to add a few blocks to your ride.
    ~Diane
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by chroot
    You should really buy a floor pump (as cheap as $15-20 at places like Performance and Supergo) and get in the habit of topping off your tires every morning before you leave the house. Buy one that has an integrated pressure gauge. Tubes unfortunately don't really hold air that well, and underinflated tires are almost a gaurantee for pinch flats.

    Removing the back wheel is really no different than removing the front wheel, assuming your bike has quick-release skewers on both. The only added annoyance is that you have to pull the derailer with your hand to get the chain away from the cogs. It takes about 10 seconds longer than removing the front wheel.
    I know I should. But I might just leave it at the office, and check the air before leaving the office. I leave my bike on the street at night.
    I live in 150 Y/O building in a third floor, no elevator with very narrow (claustrophobic) stairs. Iīm to lazy to carry my bike upstairs every day. (I canīt leave it here anyway, no space).

    Dera cogs what? .
    Iīm the kind of guy that will tear a broken walkman apart to see why itīs not working, and find myself with 3 extra screws and a rubberband that canīt fit anywhere after i put it back together. Iīll have to do a test tube change sometime soon.


    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Graham
    Fatdogvinn, it's been a week or so since your first post to this topic, so you may already have gotten the hang of looking over your shoulder while continuing to ride a straight line...if not, you may want to practice that skill specifically sometime when you've got the road to yourself. The key is to relax your upper body as much as possible; if your muscles are tense, then when you turn your head it will pull your shoulders and torso with it, and you'll steer left. With a little practice, you'll get to the point where you can turn your head left or right, look for a half second or so, then turn forward again, without deviating from your path by more than a couple inches. (I'm probably the least flexible human being ever born, so if I can learn to do this, anyone can!)

    - Paul
    Yes Iīm getting there. I have not fully mastered the looking over shoulder art for very long, but I can do it for a little while, enough to see if someone is coming close. But since I canīt hold that position for too long, I find myself sometimes doing it a couple of times before feeling safe enough to change lanes.


    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    In my town the main street has stop lights every half a block. But there are numerous streets parallel to it that have little or no stop lights. Just cause the street you have chosen is the most direct, or has the most bike lanes or whatever doesn't mean it's actually the best street to take. Try another street. Your ride is so short you can probably afford to add a few blocks to your ride.
    Trust me. There is no way I can escape the stoplights on my commute. If you see the grid map I posted on a link before. Iīm in the middle of it. To get out of here, there is a stoplight on each and every intersection on each and every street at least ten blocks on each direction from where I live. There is no main street concept here. All streets have about the same amount of traffic flow, same amount of lanes, etc.

    My commute is about 20 blocks away. I will have to go trough 10 stoplights to get to a point with "less" stoplights, then go down another 10 stoplights to get to work.
    I would sure hate to drive in this city, and for some reason most people here drive sticks and manage to go up to 3rd or 4th gear in less than 200 meters, then they complain about gas prices.

  25. #25
    Vanned. worker4youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatdogvinn
    I hate Stoplights
    there is a stop light on EACH AND EVERY block.
    Traffic flows but is heavy, and itīs almost impossible to get all green lights, so It takes me almost half an hour to get there.
    I know the feeling. The first half of my 7 mile commute is like this. However, I've found that stop signs are much faster than stoplights in general. Can you stay on the smaller streets that have stop signs instead of stoplights? However, don't fall into the temptation of rolling through stop signs...

    You'll get used to it. It was demanding to stop-n-go all the time, but it's a breeze for me now. When I first started, I would sweat like crazy. Now, I don't even break a sweat on the cooler mornings.

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