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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 06-29-11, 04:08 PM   #1
MillieKY
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I did it!!!

Today I rode my whole commute from my doorstep to the lab for the first time! This was also my first time riding on the roads at all, up till now I'd only used the MUP or my neighborhood.

I went the long way around so it was 14.5 miles but I mostly avoided a road I was pretty sure I would get squished on. For the 500 yards or so I had to be on that road a big ol' semi pulled alongside close enough I could have breathed a steam spot on it. I think I made the right call! (I did end up getting a ride halfway back home because I don't think I"m ready to ride the roads with angry rush hour traffic. Maybe next week?

Thanks everyone who told me to just go out and do it... It really wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. It was kinda like going through a haunted house... I was afraid, and moving as quickly as I could, but there was no real danger. (for the most part)

I'm telling all of YOU because no one here gets why I even wanted to do this. Cheers!
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Old 06-29-11, 04:17 PM   #2
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Hey, good job! That's a long commute, and you did it AND tackled traffic at the same time. Very impressive.

Becoming comfortable in traffic takes time. I ride on the wide shoulder of a 60mph divided 4 lane highway for about half my commute because it's my safest option, but the shoulder is as wide as a bike lane. However, when I'm on surface streets, I take about two feet of the lane for myself. Do you have a mirror? A mirror is a necessity when riding in traffic, IMHO. I use mine constantly. If a car is behind me and I think they'll pass me too closely, I'll drift to the left and FORCE them to either pass me in the other lane, or wait until I think it's safe to pass. When oncoming traffic has passed me, I drift right and wave on the car behind me. It makes the ride much more pleasant. Nobody has buzzed me since I started doing this. I did get the finger once. But it was from a 5 year old kid, so it was kinda funny.

Again, good job on starting commuting. Don't take routes you aren't comfortable with. If you need to take a longer route to be safe, just leave earlier.

Beware, however. First you start commuting, next thing you know you're drooling over lighting and reflective gear!
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Old 06-29-11, 04:18 PM   #3
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Congrats! I had a similar internal conflict when I first started, and my first day I rode on a 55MPH highway... I learned the good routes after that. Now? I wouldn't go back to having my car. It was so addictive I got rid of my car.
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Old 06-29-11, 04:30 PM   #4
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One of the best things you can do is come to the commuting forum for advice . Why, because most of us deal with traffic on a daily basis and are more than willing to offer advice or tips.

One of the worst things you can do is come to the commuting forum for advice . Why, because being anonymous on the internet allows people to give advice they don't follow themselves.

But however it may seem, remember that the bad experiences you see posted are usually the exception; and not the rule.
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Old 06-29-11, 04:30 PM   #5
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Good for you. Keep it up.
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Old 06-29-11, 05:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MillieKY View Post
I'm telling all of YOU because no one here gets why I even wanted to do this. Cheers!
And they never will, but I bet on the first rainy day, they will ask you if you rode in (hoping your answer will be no - so they will not be shamed).
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Old 06-29-11, 06:26 PM   #7
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Now you've gone and done it Good job!
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Old 06-29-11, 06:31 PM   #8
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Congrats Millie! To the lab eh? Which type of science are you in?
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Old 06-29-11, 06:45 PM   #9
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Congratulations. Now that the nerves are behind you, all you have to look forward to is the fun! Amazingly, the more you ride, the more fun it seems to be.
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Old 06-29-11, 07:10 PM   #10
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Good job. Ride with confidence and before you know it you'll love riding the roads.
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Old 06-29-11, 07:16 PM   #11
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Awesome and congrats on the milestone.
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Old 06-29-11, 08:04 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone for indulging my YAY ME happy dance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schwinnrider View Post
Again, good job on starting commuting. Don't take routes you aren't comfortable with. If you need to take a longer route to be safe, just leave earlier.

Beware, however. First you start commuting, next thing you know you're drooling over lighting and reflective gear!
I already wonder how I went from "I'm buying this bike at walmart" to "I want to go try out the $1200 Giant bike at the LBS"

Quote:
Originally Posted by robyr View Post
Congrats! I had a similar internal conflict when I first started, and my first day I rode on a 55MPH highway... I learned the good routes after that. Now? I wouldn't go back to having my car. It was so addictive I got rid of my car.
Except for neighborhoods it seems like ALL of the roads around here are 45mph+... but the round about way I took this mornin was so low traffic it didn't matter. And I thought that would be the tough part!

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Congrats Millie! To the lab eh? Which type of science are you in?
EEhh... I made it sound fancier than it is. It's the bulk compounding site for the veterinary pharmacy I work for. Downside... Lots of giant dishes. Upside... I get to mix giant vats of cool stuff, and I make my own schedule and can wear whatever so long as it's not sandals.

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Originally Posted by merkong View Post
Good job. Ride with confidence and before you know it you'll love riding the roads.
See... I'm not sure. Does anyone ever not get over being a little nervous? I like that it means I don't have to ride teh same 12mile bike path over and over... but CARS scare me.
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Old 06-29-11, 08:33 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by CB HI View Post
And they never will, but I bet on the first rainy day, they will ask you if you rode in (hoping your answer will be no - so they will not be shamed).
I've ridden every day this week, including the rainy days.

It started to rain, so I got on my bike and in 10 minutes there were no clouds and tons of sunshine.

My coworkers are getting worried that I'm using magical powers to cause a year-long drought so I can ride.
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Old 06-30-11, 08:27 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by MillieKY View Post
See... I'm not sure. Does anyone ever not get over being a little nervous? I like that it means I don't have to ride teh same 12mile bike path over and over... but CARS scare me.
You ay not get this impression from this (and other) sites, but the vast majority of drivers are reasonable. Even, I suspect, in the USA.

I know that my UK experience is absolutely relevant, but you will find that your ability to "read" traffic and drivers' intentions will improve. Try and observe other road users' behaviour and work out why they do certain things which may make you nervous/scared/aaaarrrggghhh(!) and you'll begin to spot the danger signs. I invite other forumers to add their ideas:

1. No eye contact when a driver is turning into/out of a side road -s/he ain't seen you
2. Driver's speed being variable - looking for parking space/address/on cellphone/under the influence
3. Low sun in winter - drivers will assume that the road ahead is clear even tho' they can't see a thing
4. Approaching section where the road narrows because of street furniture/road works - drivers will/may do their damndest to get past you before the obstacle and cut you up
5. Approaching lights at red - see (4) above
6. Narrowish road and driver several cars back coming the opposite way keeps putting his nose out - he'l be so busy looking to get past the cars in front of him that you won't register on what passes for his radar
7. Driver slowing down in city, but not signalling - he'll probably pull in to park/turn without using his indicator
8. Rain - drivers not taking extra care/having reduced visiblility, esp. side windows
9. Pedestrians/drivers on their mobiles regardless of speed changes - you think pedestrians can't be dangerous while on the phone? One national UK newspaper reported that 35,000 pedestrians received hospital treatment after walking into street furniture while on the phone last year
10. Please feel free to add any other signs, folks
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Old 06-30-11, 09:44 AM   #15
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Good job!

Finding alternate routes with less risk usually requires a little more distance to travel, but you often see cooler stuff and have more fun on the alternate routes too.

Stay vigilant and be "situationally aware" out there.
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Old 06-30-11, 10:29 AM   #16
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Way to go, man!
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Old 06-30-11, 10:34 AM   #17
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Good job. If you're like me, you'll enjoy it more than you ever expected.
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Old 06-30-11, 12:46 PM   #18
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Well done! I think it's great that you posted this - Brightened my day up!
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Old 06-30-11, 03:03 PM   #19
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Good job! Keep on riding, and you'll get more comfortable riding with cars.
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Old 06-30-11, 06:25 PM   #20
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The first few days out on the road with cars can be very scary, just keep on keeping on, eventually you will get more comfortable in traffic.
I feel one of the most helpful things you can do is get and use a mirror to keep an eye on the traffic coming up behind you. YMMV.
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Old 06-30-11, 10:02 PM   #21
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Well done! I think it's great that you posted this - Brightened my day up!
THANKS! I thought after the fact it seemed a bit vain to do my happy dance in public now I'm not so worried.

The mirror suggestion comes up a lot... I'll have to go get one. Seems silly to add accessories to my $150 bike... but I'm ok with it! I think the 14.5 mile ride was too much though- came up with a bum knee yesterday. May be coincidence, it's a previous injury. Walkin across the room at work and suddenly OUCH... and then limp... limp...
D*** you, chondromalacia! It's the "jager bomb" knee. My left knee. My right knee is titled "the volleyball knee." Both are self explanatory, right??
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Old 07-01-11, 04:43 PM   #22
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I would recommend reading Bicycling Street Smarts. Good info for anyone riding in traffic. http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm
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Old 07-01-11, 05:07 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MillieKY View Post
THANKS! I thought after the fact it seemed a bit vain to do my happy dance in public now I'm not so worried.

The mirror suggestion comes up a lot... I'll have to go get one. Seems silly to add accessories to my $150 bike... but I'm ok with it!
Your dance made a bunch of other people feel good too - nice job!

About the mirror: Yeah it might seem silly to deck out a $150 bike, but safety and the feeling of comfort that comes with being a little more secure are both priceless. Besides, you could get one of those mirrors that mounts on glasses or a helmet, which work fine for many people. Or you could get one that mounts on the handlebars and then transfer it to the Giant eventually
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