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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 12-02-07, 12:14 AM   #1
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How did you start commuting?

I started when I was a teenager, I had a bike sitting there not getting used, and I thought about using the bike to get to school. It sure beats waiting for the bus and it beats walking.

My first ride to school took 15 minutes for a two kilometre route, quite unhealthy really (plus it was hilly, having not ridden much before, I sucked at hills). It really hurts, my high school was on top of a hill, when I dismounted, I was ready to puke, but I didn't.

After that, I persisted for a few more months, I got that time down to 6 minutes for easy brisk commute, and it was easily the best commuting option available because one, bus took anywhere around 8-14 minutes plus waiting time, and two, walking took anywhere around 20-30 minutes.

Looking back to when I made my decision, I'm glad I did. It made me more energetic, healthier, and my stamina is much higher in the morning compared to everyone else when I got to class. Not to mention the countless hours I've saved from waiting for the bus or walking.

Today, I can see myself commuting as much as 50-60 kilometres a day if I have to, and I use my bikes for all my commuting duties because I can.

What's your story?
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Old 12-02-07, 12:29 AM   #2
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Kinda weird how I started. I had double avulsion fractures of the hips. Playing soccer was not an option and I didn't play baseball my senior year because I was hitting 538 the previous year and sitting the bench half the time while we were losing endless games. I couldn't run for cardio and I could not even do elypticals, everything put too much stress on them. So I asked for a bike for my 19th birthday, kinda sad huh lol :-) My first ride was to school which is 3 miles exact. Pretty easy because its all the way down hill so I got there in about 20 mins, I also didn't go at a fast pace because I didn't want to get sweaty for class. Riding home sucked though going up I didn't know about gearing then I put it in the biggest gear because I thought hey bigger gear climb faster.... Man did that suck I climbed a hill a quarter of a mile in 27th gear!! It took me about 25 mins to get home. I had a car at the time too but would rather ride my bike to work for cardio. I was riding everywhere for everything. I finally found cardio where I could do for a long time and help trim my stomach, almost a complete 6 pack now :-). My car crapped out on me so I let my grandpa donate it and I ride everywhere. Since school started on the 24th of september I've ridden 600 miles. I don't think I'll get a car any time soon. I'm actually thinking of getting a moped so when I have to drive somewhere gas doesn't kill me. I like my 700 a month to spend on absolutly on whatever I want :-). I'm now concidering getting into racing once I get in good enough shape, I love to compete and since soccer is out of the picture I'm going to try and get into racing.
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Old 12-02-07, 12:47 AM   #3
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Oh yes, the money saved is definitely good. Insurance for my age is $2000 a year, and gas is $3.80CDN a gallon.
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Old 12-02-07, 01:30 AM   #4
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Ain't old enough to drive.
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Old 12-02-07, 01:42 AM   #5
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I was looking for a way to add some exercise to my day. Trouble was I didn't have time to go to the gym so I started riding my bike 1 or 2 days a week. Now I ride 30 miles a day round trip in about the same it would have taken me to drive the same distance.
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Old 12-02-07, 05:16 AM   #6
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saving money eh you obviusly aint buying enough bikes haahah
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Old 12-02-07, 06:03 AM   #7
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Fore thought and planning on my Mom's part when she moved into a house with a quiet 2km walk/cycle/run from junior school and 3km of the same from senior school. There was a hill in between senior school and home but it wasn't very big.

I pretty much commuted everywhere under my own power from age 8+(swimming club, after school sports, friends houses, occasonal shopping chores). When given the option of an old banger at 16 I chose to continue riding for longer commutes.

The cost of fuel/parts/insurance always put me off. I had friends working the same fast food weekend jobs as me just so they could run their cars. Quite often, even with working all weekend, they'd still end up cycling to school trying to save fuel for Friday night out.

There's been no real need for a car as there's always been someone that could drive, my legs, bicycles and public tranport easily available. Also, even when the distances involved increased to 10km+ I've preferred being outside to stuck in a box.

No green agenda (now there's an oxymoron - stop breathing if you want to cutdown CO2, Duh!), just hated being bored while commuting.
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Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!
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Old 12-02-07, 06:14 AM   #8
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Been commutin' since the 4th the bus or walking.
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Old 12-02-07, 07:00 AM   #9
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Dad owned... and still owns... a bike shop. He used to take me to pre school in bicycle buggy. I remember it to this day. I'm lucky to be bicycle dependent at a young age. And its carried on.... I just wish my commute were a tad further.
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Old 12-02-07, 07:23 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post

What's your story?
I was 385 pounds in December 2005. After a night in a cardiac unit for a false alarm I decided to do something, and joined a gym. One of the motivating factors I used was that I was going to get a bike and learn how to ride - I never learned to ride as a child. I didn't realize there are 300+ pound cyclists, otherwise I would have purchased a bike right away. One year and 111 pounds later I bought a Trek Navigator, which I crashed on my first ride because a mailbox jumped in front of me.

I got better, the mailboxes stayed out of my way, and I began to use the bike for errands and short trips. I thought long and hard about commuting to work, but I found reasons not to. One day I posted to my blog an item from Bike Commuters that stated anyone using the bike for transportation for any reasons was a commuter, and I posted that "I'm a bike commuter too!" That afternoon my car was hit by an uninsured motorist. As my buddy Neil Fein commented on my bike commuter post, "You are now."

So I was forced into it, but as a chessplayer may say, "I was forced to move where I wanted to." My commute is 17 miles one way, 1500 feet of climbing, and the return leg is at night. I commuted for two weeks, and a few times after my car was repaired. I was working on fit for a new bike, getting dialed in, and training for my first century, so most of my riding was recreational for the next several months. I was also being influenced by a roadie friend and didn't get my new bike set up for commuting. I'm now dialed in and I'm getting a rack, kickstand, etc for the new bike, so I should be ready to resume commuting at some point. Now to work up the nerve to ride in the dead of a Pennsylvania winter.
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Old 12-02-07, 07:29 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by maximan1 View Post
Ain't old enough to drive.
+1 and can't afford a proper car.
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Old 12-02-07, 09:16 AM   #12
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I got mad at the bus company for eliminating transfers. This effectively doubled my transportation costs. I'd been getting tired of a 45 minute ride to go about 4 miles anyway.

So I budgeted a year's worth of bus fare and bought a bike, helmet, lights and lock. Little did I know that would be only the first bike, and only the first group of accessories. I had no clue as to the existence of racks, panniers, studded tires and bikewear.

My current commuter rig set me back nearly five years of bus fare. Ha! Forget the bike--my new Lake winter cycling boots alone were seven months of bus fare.
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Old 12-02-07, 09:34 AM   #13
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My wife quit her job a few years ago and a month later while driving my car it was totaled.
I had her drop me off at the park-n-ride and pick me up for a week or two.
I tired of that after a week and finally decided to try a concept I had found at BF a few months before....cyclocommuting.
So, I grabbed my POS too small huffy. Purchased a set of cheap bell head \ tail lights and a helmet. Found a route to the same park-n-ride and headed off. It literally took me 45 min the first time to go 4 miles but it was a blast. A few years later, 50 lbs lighter, and a few bikes later I still love it. However, my commuting miles are dropping through the floor and transforming to something more like training and recreational rides. Next year I have a plenty of centuries planned and hopefully a brevet or two.
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Old 12-02-07, 09:47 AM   #14
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car died+don't want to buy a new one+need to exercise more=bike commute
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Old 12-02-07, 10:03 AM   #15
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I started mountain bike racing when I was 14, so bikes and I have a long history. Through high school I was "too cool" to ride my bike, but when I got to college that phase had passed. Bikes were simply the most efficient way around the small college towns, and also the easiest way to avoid getting hit with a ticket (though drunk riding is still DUI worthy in most states).

After graduation I moved lots, and lived in a couple of places/had lifestyles that didn't condone bike commuting, but eventually I got back to a steady and stable lifestyle and started serious commuting.

I almost wouldn't call what I did in college serious commuting as I never had to ride more than about 6 miles in any direction thanks to the small town factor. Now I ride 30 mi. RT every weekday...that's REAL commuting!
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Old 12-02-07, 10:41 AM   #16
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I retired in 2002. This year when my younger daughter started school, I took a part time job at her school and started riding back and forth.

I rode some to work before I retired. But only on nice days. Now I ride to work every day.
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Old 12-02-07, 11:31 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by mihlbach View Post
Been commutin' since the 4th the bus or walking.
That's a good way to put it -- I was "commuting" long before I had a car of my own. I look back at the routes I used to ride with my friends and think about how much fun we had, and how much of a chore it is to drive those same routes today.
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Old 12-02-07, 11:56 AM   #18
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I had always biked/walked to school, but my Mom would drive me to Hebrew school and after-school events. Unfortunately she was usually late (a lot). One time she actually forgot to pick me up and I ended up walking 5 miles home. That was the beginning of my decision to use the bike for all my trips. I found that I had the independence that most people don't experience until 16. It was fortunate for me that in Los Angeles there's a fantastic bike path which goes on for 20 miles from Redondo Beach to Malibu. The first time I rode that, I didn't know if I'd make it back home.
But soon I was riding it every weekend, and then going farther to the edge of Malibu, or the Valley, or Long Beach. I ended up, between age 12-20 cycling through almost every town in Los Angeles (and never managed to get beyond the development).
Now I live in Portland and I know about fenders, panniers, and raingear.
I hope you have as much fun too
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Old 12-02-07, 12:06 PM   #19
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I started three times.

The first time, it was a need for independance. I grew up in a small town where cycling gave me the ability to travel without having to beg Mom or Dad for a ride and pickup. I rode everywhere until I was old enough to drive, at which point I ditched the bike because the car was faster and one could park anywhere.

Later on, in graduate schlool, there was no student parking within a half mile of my office and class buildings. My car stayed in the garage except on weekends, and I went back to riding a bike again.

Once I finished school and went to work, I started utility driving again. About ten years ago, I found that traffic congestion and scarce parking made my cars impractical for commuting and much of my shopping. Fortunately, my wife had bought be a bike as a birthday present some years ago. It languished in the basement and got ridden maybe once per year. It lacked basic necessities like a chainguard and lights, and had lousy tires that flatted every month or so -- much like a 1910 car. But hey -- it was a more convenient way to get to work than driving -- that's all it needed to be. After a few years of year-round commuting, I found a bike that was more suitable for daily use.

Last year, we bought out a smaller firm and consolidated into their offices. Now, it's actually faster to drive to work, rather than cycling. However, the drive is unpleasant and the bike ride is an enjoyable adventure.

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Old 12-02-07, 12:08 PM   #20
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in 1967 at age 13 I stripped down an old Columbia single speed, took off the fenders, flipped over the handlebars and raged around the neighborhood with my friends- we went everywhere by bike, by the following year I'd purchased, of all things, a folding bike from the Sears catalog (made by Astro-Daimler), it had a solid built on rack and I used it to deliver newspapers and go to my karate lessons about 5 miles away.

But commuting really started for me at age 16 when I had a job at the A&P supermarket and I commuted to that job and high school every day- my high school picture was a picture of my bike locked all alone in the courtyard of the school with about 2 inches of snow on ground and snow still falling. I continued to commute right up until college and when I lived off campus I rode a 20 mile round trip daily to college and back. 35 years later I teach at a college and do a 20+ mile round trip daily. I've commuted to just about every regular job I've ever had in the interim including jobs I've had in Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

One of the hardest things for me to understand is why every one doesn't do it- it's so much fun. I don't push it on others but I've definitely influenced a lot of people over the years to ride.
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Old 12-02-07, 12:08 PM   #21
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Fiancee's car died, and since I was looking for an excuse to commute anyway, I gave up my car to her and just started riding.
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Old 12-02-07, 12:46 PM   #22
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I needed a quick way to get to work after I thought I couldn't go through the gap in my neighbor's fence to the office, since they closed it up. Turns out there was another gap though, so I didn't actually need to buy the bike after all (at least for commuting). Thank god I did anyway!

I have never owned a car, but will probably be getting one to move with and use as a beatah. My bike will still be #1 though.
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Old 12-02-07, 03:06 PM   #23
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Well this story is fresh because I just started about a months ago. I live in Florida, at the moment, which is flat as a board, and when I bike I save at least half the gas money that my old ugly toyota pickup takes. I assembled a whole beater commuter from two old treks lowend MTBs (one free and one $40 on craigslist.) A toolkit and a few replacement parts latter, its how I get around for the most part. Its a nice place to break in as a commuter because the winter never drop below the 40-50s (F) and the rain has stopped until march or april. Now if they would only put some bike lanes on the 6 lane divided highway I have to take to get to my favorite coffee shop
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Old 12-02-07, 03:09 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by ralph12 View Post
I needed a quick way to get to work after I thought I couldn't go through the gap in my neighbor's fence to the office, since they closed it up. Turns out there was another gap though, so I didn't actually need to buy the bike after all (at least for commuting). Thank god I did anyway!
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Old 12-02-07, 03:10 PM   #25
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I started commuting because riding on just the weekend wasn't cutting it.
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