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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-09-07, 07:04 AM   #1
samovar
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First Commute

Made my first commute this morning from Belmont, MA in to Boston, about 8 mi. Feels good despite the chill but took a bit longer than I had hoped (1 hr; I was shooting for 40 min). I need to find a more efficient route from my house down to the Charles River bike path; went way too far out of my way today trying to avoid traffic. Also need to figure out how to behave in long lines of city traffic at stop lights.

Bike is a Gary Fisher Zebrano. Light years better than anything I rode years ago, though I need to go back to LBS for some shifter adjustments at the high and low ends.
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Old 04-09-07, 08:24 AM   #2
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Terrific. Just rode through Belmont on my way home yesterday after a long ride.

No scenic route between Belmont Center and the Charles that I'm aware of. For commuting purposes, I find most of the roads around there pretty good: Belmont, Brattle, Mt. Auburn. They do get nasty around Elliot Bridge. Arsenal is doable, but not plesant (I love that it has "Share the Road" signs and a bike lane somewhere in the middle of it that doesn't really connect to anything at either end ).

Your 2 options are to 1) work your way straight south to the Charles or 2) work your way over to Harvard Cambridge and pick up the Charles there.

Once you find your route, you'll find things going much faster. I still miss riding into Downtown on the Esplanade in the Spring. Enjoy.
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Old 04-09-07, 08:31 AM   #3
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Welcome to the Happy Healthy Commuting MuthaF*ckers (HHCMF) club! Take pride in your accomplishments of fresh air, exercise and guilt-free donuts while enjoying the admiring looks of lust from the opposite sex for being such an obviously prime example of the species!
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Old 04-09-07, 09:38 AM   #4
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Congrats! I just started commuting last week myself. Don't feel too bad about the time. My second day in took me about 2 hours. Big headwinds and below freezing temps (not to mention lack of fitness) kept my speed down. The ride home was much easier even though my legs were jello.
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Old 04-09-07, 09:45 AM   #5
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Congrats.

I'm reconditioning after some downtime and a typical seasonal snot fest cold and seem to be slower than molasses, so don't feel bad - you'll soon be conditioned to the ride, make sure you fuel your body for the ride and for the rest periods!
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Old 04-09-07, 10:44 AM   #6
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Good job!! Keep it up, you'll love it. I am approaching my third year commuting. Its great :-)
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Old 04-09-07, 11:53 AM   #7
Brian Sorrell
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Fantastic! You'll figure out what's the best way to handle the traffic. There are lots of debates in here about "filtering" to the front. After a while, you'll get a feel for what's comfortable and safe. Above all -- stay safe! Cheers.
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Old 04-09-07, 12:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samovar
Made my first commute this morning from Belmont, MA in to Boston, about 8 mi. Feels good despite the chill but took a bit longer than I had hoped (1 hr; I was shooting for 40 min). I need to find a more efficient route from my house down to the Charles River bike path; went way too far out of my way today trying to avoid traffic. Also need to figure out how to behave in long lines of city traffic at stop lights.

Bike is a Gary Fisher Zebrano. Light years better than anything I rode years ago, though I need to go back to LBS for some shifter adjustments at the high and low ends.
I just ride right past them in the bike lane. On roads where there is no bike lane I do the same though. No reason for me to sit there breathing exhaust fumes like some stupid cager.
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Old 04-09-07, 02:43 PM   #9
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"Bike Lanes" are a rarity here, and when they exist they seem to be dead in the parked car door zone.
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Old 04-09-07, 03:49 PM   #10
Brian Sorrell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samovar
"Bike Lanes" are a rarity here, and when they exist they seem to be dead in the parked car door zone.
Definitely proceed with caution when passing traffic on the right -- if you choose to and even if you're in a bike lane. Watch out for the "door zone". My approach is to look through the windows of the parked cars, or in their mirrors, to help determine if someone is about to open their door into traffic. You'll find all sorts of debates about the safety issues of passing stopped traffic in the Advocacy & Safety forum -- though somewhat technical debates.

For my part, it took a while to get comfortable among the cars -- I had come from a mountain biking background. But once you get used to the traffic, you'll be ok. Post your progress and questions here and you'll get tons of responses about technique.
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Old 04-09-07, 07:35 PM   #11
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Congrats!

Special kudos for beginning at this time of year in New England! I started 5 years ago, but in July, when it's much easier!! I didn't even assume at first that I would go all the way through winter, it just sort of happened.

My rule of thumb about filtering (gained from someone here): Filter if you want until you are within one cycle of the light. Then find a gap as the cars are slowing to your speed or below and take a place in line, in the middle of the lane. That way you hold your own place with no one beside you to cut you off in the intersection. Within one cycle of the light, you can usually keep speed with the cars when the light changes until at least halfway through the intersection, when most of the danger has passed and you can move to the right again to allow passing, if safe to do so. This seems to work very well for me.

If you feel you must filter all the way to the front, stop either just in front of the first car, or between the first and second (and make sure the first isn't turning right). I don't do this myself anymore, but I think it's good advice for those who do.

In general, filtering (passing on the right), can be dangerous if there are a lot of turn-ins on the way. Some will tell you to pass on the left, if you're going to pass, since that is where people expect to be passed. I haven't made up my mind on that one, and I think it's very context-sensitive. The place on my commute where I do filter doesn't have turn-ins, so that's nice, but I do think twice in an unfamiliar area where there are. Just be careful. Vigilence is your best friend.

Congrats again, ride safe and have fun!
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