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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 03-02-05, 01:21 PM   #26
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"Protective glasses are also a good idea if you can find a way to keep them from fogging (I haven't yet!!)."

1) Moisten a bar of soap with water and wipe the soapy water on your lenses.

2) wait for the water to dry in a soapy film on the lens.

3) Buff the film clear with a LENS CLOTH or soft towel. DON'T use a kleenex or something like that, it will scratch your lenses for you.

If you do this on both sides, your glasses won't fog... Works for me with my ski goggles & eyeglasses.

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Old 03-02-05, 01:38 PM   #27
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Repairs/Other Reading

Finally, you should get some bike repair manual. I got a copy of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance. I checked a few out from the library before settling in the Zinn book. I chose that one because it is complete without being too complete, and it has a great list of tools you should have broken down by the level of complexity of the repairs you want to attempt.
I picked this book up, and lemme tell you: It's great. My level of knowledge pertaining to bikes have increased quite significantly. A couple of months before that, I had purchased the workstand/toolkit combo from Performance Bike for $79. I can do complete overhauls on my bike now, the only thing I'm rusty with is truing wheels. I also realized that I need a sturdy repair stand (can anybody offer a testimonial on the consumer repair stand that's on sale @ bikenashbar.com?), but the workstand is great for getting started out. In the six months I've had this equipment, it has already paid for itself. I highly recommend the book
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Old 03-03-05, 04:31 PM   #28
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I will star commuting next month and have found this info helpful. Could someone please give some advice on a rear helmet light and rack for a CrossCheck?

Thanks
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Old 03-03-05, 09:23 PM   #29
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I use the Blackburn Mountain Rack on my Cross Check. There is one level higher, but this one can carry as much as I can put into two panniers. I dangle a "Cat Eye Compact Safety Tail Light" from my helmet strap. I also use zip ties on the bars under the seat (the ones that also hold my seat bag) to hold a blinkie safely wedged between seatbag and seat.
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Old 03-03-05, 10:14 PM   #30
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There's lots of discussion of equipment in this thread. Let me talk a bit about route selection.

You know the best route to drive to work, but that doesn't mean you know the best route to ride to work. Your ideal route will avoid busy streets as much as possible. That means that instead of taking the big, broad streets and highways favored by cars, you'll take the side streets that run parallel to those big streets.

In many cases, you won't know about these streets. As a driver, you've been avoiding them. They are out of the way, and they might be difficult to reach with a car. So, get yourself a map. That's right: Look at a map of the area where you've been driving through for the last 10 years of your life. You might discover something new, or something you forgot about before.

Your goal in route selection is not always to find the shortest route. Your goal is to find the easiest route -- the route that is the safest and least aggravating. Over time, your tastes might change; it took me a year before I was comfortable with riding in heavy traffic, so during that time I added 2 minutes to my commute by taking a side street two blocks out of the way.

Remember that you have options available to you that cars do not. For cars, one-way streets are huge obstacles. For you, dismounting and walking a block down a one-way street might shave several blocks off your ride. (Do not ride on the sidewalk, or ride the wrong way on a one-way street!). For cars, driving through parking lots, parks, stairways, and buildings is a no-no. For you, it's all a possibility.

How do you spot these shortcuts? Again, it starts with a map. But also, when you finally do choose a route, keep your eyes open. Do you notice that concrete barrier the neighborhood erected to keep out cars? You can ride around it.

If you are lucky enough to live someplace that has a helpful bike trail, use it. When I started commuting, I didn't think it was worth my time to ride a half-mile out of my way to a bike trail, so I instead took a route through heavy traffic and multiple stoplights. That route was shorter, but ultimately not quicker--and probably not safer. Life is easier without cars, traffic lights, or exhaust.
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Old 03-04-05, 06:47 PM   #31
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That's one point of view. On the other hand, for a quick trip, I tend to favour arterials, especially if:
- there is a wide outside lane so that cars pass easily;
- there are few "right lane must turn right" situations.

I am allergic to curbs, dismounts, or walking the bike. After all, if I wanted to walk, I would leave the bike at home and walk!

Another reason for avoiding back streets is the lack of safety when crossing the arterials. I hate being at intersections when I have a stop sign on a quiet street... and I have to wait a long time for an opeing in heavy cross traffic.

In many places, I find that an older street – the 1950's version of that arterial – is often the most enjoyable. It is fairly direct, doesn't require me to stop too often at crossings where the other guy has priority, has houses and stores close to the road, and often even has nice houses rather than ultra modern squarish constructions.
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Old 03-04-05, 08:01 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagged
There's lots of discussion of equipment in this thread. Let me talk a bit about route selection.
Remember that you have options available to you that cars do not. For cars, one-way streets are huge obstacles. For you, dismounting and walking a block down a one-way street might shave several blocks off your ride. (Do not ride on the sidewalk, or ride the wrong way on a one-way street!). For cars, driving through parking lots, parks, stairways, and buildings is a no-no. For you, it's all a possibility.
Great post, except I disagree with the whole walking your bike bit. If you can't ride at walking speed, then you should get out and practice. I see nothing unsafe about riding on sidewalks to avoid a short bad road stretch, as long as you yield to peds, and use extra care when reentering the road.

I absolutely hate it when some moron tells me I have to walk my bike over the simplest of obstacles. Most days its more likely I'll fall while walking as opposed to riding.
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Old 03-05-05, 08:46 AM   #33
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Jagged and Michel make good points, but they both come down to the fact the the best car route may not be the best bike route. Some people hate heavy traffic, but will put up with frequent stop signs on side streets. Others can deal with traffic, but hate being on roads with tons of stop signs. Some swear by bike lanes, others swear at bike lanes. Try various routes to work to see what works best for you.

Before your first commute, try the route on the weekend. That way you are less likely to get an unpleasant surpise when you have to get to work bya specific time.
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Old 03-05-05, 06:23 PM   #34
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That route finding info is great. I started (re-started) my commuting a while back but dropped out just because it was so unpleasant. I rode along a high-speed road with a lot of diesel trucks, no bike lane and only a very narrow shoulder area. This road was right next to the freeway so it was noisy and there were so many fumes trapped in an inversion layer I couldn't breathe. So I dropped out.

Then they closed that road and by following the detour on my Vespa I discovered an idillyic, oak-lined paradise of a street. It crosses rushing creeks, has fragrant hedges instead of fumes, seems wider and traffic is lighter and slower at 30-35mph. I restarted the commuting again. If they ever re-open the other route I won't go back.

So yeah, sometimes the route makes all the difference in keeping you on the bike.
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Old 03-05-05, 09:46 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treespeed
I see nothing unsafe about riding on sidewalks to avoid a short bad road stretch, as long as you yield to peds, and use extra care when reentering the road.
The final block of my ride to work is a one-way street going the wrong way. I'll admit that I sometimes ride on the sidewalk for that block--generally when I don't see any pedestrians, and I feel that it is safe. Being nice to pedestrians is especially important for me on that block, because some of those "pedestrians" are likely to be my coworkers.

But I think it is important to let newbies know that there are dangers associated with sidewalk riding, and that streets are generally safer. So, planning several blocks of sidewalk riding into your route is a bad idea. (Also, in Washington, D.C., it is illegal to ride on the sidewalks in the downtown business district, though legal elsewhere).

Michel, I also like arterials when your two conditions are met. But newbies who are afraid of traffic should consider the "road less travelled," even if it does have lots of annoying stop signs. As always, the sole criteria for route selection should not just be speed. In selecting routes, one should consider what is the fastest, safest, and least stressful route. Opinions about safety, and tolerance levels for stress, will of course differ.
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Old 03-06-05, 05:07 AM   #36
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The subject of sidewalk riding has been debated. It can go on for pages. I'm not telling anyone to "shut up," but perhaps it would be better to add more detailed sidewalk-riding comments to the thread called "Riding on sidewalks", which was started by the guy who runs these forums.

Riding on sidewalks
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Old 03-06-05, 08:02 PM   #37
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I just joined the forum and thought this would be a great thread to get in on. I wish it was around 18mos ago when I started commuting. I could have used the advice.

My commute is 31 miles round trip. It is mostly on a bike path along the scenic Potomac river (I'm still waiting for the day I spot a floater )

I ride a Trek 520 touring bike. I have logged over 2000 miles so far. I am in the process of getting the last of my gear together. I ride with panniers (plan to upgrade to some Ortleib panniers from the Performance ones I use now). You can never carry too much gear as I learned when I got double flats and only had one spare tube and no patch kit. Luckily I made it to within 1 mile of home. I carry my rain gear almost all the time. In the summer I am able to slim down to one pannier - which suprisingly doesn't make me off-balanced. I carry my clothes, my work papers, my lunch and my tools in my panniers. I have a Jet Lite, helmet mounted and a blinker on my seat post. I plan to get a reflective vest for winter riding since my winter jacket is not too reflective. I have almost become a hood ornament for a bus, and one for a car. I don't know who was more scared me or the bus/car driver. I am still looking for lighting system that can be seen easily from the side of the bike as this is the direction from which I was almost T-boned both times. If anyone has any ideas I would appreciate it.

Any suggestions on a good pump to carry would be appreciated. My mini-pump can't pump beyond about 45 psi and I ride 700x35, usually at 100 psi.

Good luck to anyone planning to ride. It is the best decision I have ever made (other than getting married - my wife is looking over my shoulder).
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Old 03-06-05, 10:39 PM   #38
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The idea of using "the road less travelled" can be a good one!

That is--if you have any!!

Where I live, to get anywhere you WILL have to travel the busier roads since the neighborhood ones ALL lead to them AND if you want to do more than "ride in circles", you'll be forced to use them!!
The ONLY choice is to learn how to hold your own in traffic--it CAN be done.

Just "think like a vehicle" (you are one), keep alert, and be wary! Remember the old public service announcements about driving and you'll be OK (i.e.: always look out for the other guy, because they may not be looking out for YOU). Also keep your equipment in top shape--you don't want a breakdown at a critical moment!!

The life you save may be YOUR OWN!
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Old 03-07-05, 07:31 AM   #39
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Maxaral, it sounds like you're well-equiped. As to pumps, the Topeak Mountain and Road Morphs are great pumps. I use the Mountain Morph and have gotten tires to 120 psi.

As to lights visable from the side, there are lots of options, a lot of high-end blinkies and taillights have 180 degree coverage. Here are some choices:
  • I haven't used it, but a lot of people like the Cateye LD1000 10 LED (it's bright, but it eats through batteries faster than any other blinkie I've seen);
  • Many blinkies come with straps you can put around your arms;
  • Niterider sells a tail light that works off of Niterider batteries;
  • For a few bucks, you can put "tire flies" on the stems of your tubes;
  • The reflective vest and jacket are good ideas, I think they make you a lot more more visible than a front LED;
  • Make sure your spoke reflectors are clean (if you don't have them, get them);
  • Get a headlight that's as bright and long-lasting as you can afford (an HID if it's in your budget).

Last edited by Daily Commute; 03-07-05 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 03-08-05, 05:34 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxaral
...I am still looking for lighting system that can be seen easily from the side of the bike as this is the direction from which I was almost T-boned both times. If anyone has any ideas I would appreciate it...
I agree that this is probably the most dangerous situation at night. I look at this issue from the motorist's viewpoint. I assume that you were nearly t-boned by motorists failing to see you as they pulled out from sidestreets or driveways. By the time they see your sidelights, it is probably too late for them to avoid you. I think you need brighter headlights, so motorists will see you before they pull into your lane. I wonder if the helmet mounted light is always pointed in their direction. A bike mounted head light might be more visible to these motorists. (I really don't know for sure, since I've never tried a helmet mounted light.)

I also pull way to the left of my lane--or even into the left lane--when I see a car getting ready to come into my lane from a side street (you can usually do this easily at night). Not only does this maneuver make it easier for them to see me, it also gives me a little more distance and time for emergency swerving or braking.
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Old 03-08-05, 08:22 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
A bike mounted head light might be more visible to these motorists. (I really don't know for sure, since I've never tried a helmet mounted light.)

Thanks Roody. I think you are onto something. I like the helmet mount because I can see into the curves of the trail I ride, but on the road, motorists can't see it so well when I look away. I have been thinking about adding a bike mounted light so I have a fixed headlight. I am learning the hardway that I can't be the stubborn one, since I'll lose when it comes down to a game of chicken with a motorist. Not all motorists think we have a right to use the roads...
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Old 03-08-05, 08:27 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
Maxaral, it sounds like you're well-equiped. As to pumps, the Topeak Mountain and Road Morphs are great pumps. I use the Mountain Morph and have gotten tires to 120 psi.

As to lights visable from the side, there are lots of options, a lot of high-end blinkies and taillights have 180 degree coverage.
[*]Many blinkies come with straps you can put around your arms;
;[*]The reflective vest and jacket are good ideas, I think they make you a lot more more visible than a front LED;
[/list]
Thanks D.C. I will probably check out the Topeak road morph since I really can't stand riding on mushy tires.

I will also be getting myself a reflective vest for side visibility. After forking out the cash for the Jetlite I really don't want to spend much more on lighting. I might try what you and Roody suggest and get a bike mount light. I might even cover myself in blinkies...
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Old 03-08-05, 11:15 PM   #43
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A lifesaver I have found for commuting is Downy Wrinkle Releaser. I leave some in my locker at work. You spray it on your clothes when you get to work, tug at your clothes, and voila! Wrinkles are removed. I've been using the stuff for the past 3 years and swear by it. Also, I found that if I roll my clothes before putting them in my panniers rather than folding them, it will reduce the number of wrinkles. I usually throw them into the dryer while I'm packing my bags in the morning to reduce the wrinkles.
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Old 03-09-05, 06:23 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxaral
I am still looking for lighting system that can be seen easily from the side of the bike as this is the direction from which I was almost T-boned both times. If anyone has any ideas I would appreciate it.

Any suggestions on a good pump to carry would be appreciated. My mini-pump can't pump beyond about 45 psi and I ride 700x35, usually at 100 psi.
Have you tried adding blinkies that are visible from the side? I have two spare blinkies that I carry in my panniers and I clip them on the panniers when the visibility is low (foggy or raining).

Pump? I have a Blackburn FR-1 frame pump (good for 160 psi) and a Performance Hurricane mini pump. The Hurricane is nice because the hose pulls out and it works like a small floor pump.
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Old 03-12-05, 07:50 PM   #45
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I have heard of people who indeed use yellow blinkies on both sides of the headtube.

As for head-mounted headlight, there is one advantage and one major drawback.

- Advantage.
Right there if you need to look sideways, whether it's to see what is the other side of that tight turn or to warn an enterprising motorist that you exist.

- Drawback.
It turns with your head. I quite often turn my head while riding: to see on the side, take a broader view at traffic behind me (i.e. change the angle in my mirror), cut the wind, relax my neck muscles, etc. Yet in most of these circumstances I don't want to turn the light beam. So think about where and how you ride before going with one.
In my case, a good helmet-mounted light would work with an instant-on switch so I would turn it on only when I need to flash in the eyes of a motorist or when I turn on a winding trail.
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Old 03-13-05, 08:32 PM   #46
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Great info! I can't wait to be able to ride to work daily. Right now I only manage to ride back from lunch about three times a week. That will only last till it gets hot as I won't have time to shower when returning from lunch. (Gets VERY hot in Florida in the summer!) Anyway, summer will allow me to ride full time when my wife and kids are out of school. I've been looking at a Trek 7500FX that I think will suit my purposes nicely. I think the gas savings alone over my truck will pay for it in short order!!!!!
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Old 03-13-05, 08:55 PM   #47
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In my seat bag I add 50 cents in case my cell phone is dead I and need to use a pay phone. The $20 can also be used as a tire patch if needed.

Also, keep an area with all your cycling materials. This helps avoid searching for knee warmers or gloves in the morning.

Air up your tires the night before. Set everything out you need.

If you use Oakely M Frames or Half Jackets, two pairs of lenses are nice. In Kansas, I might have overcast in the morning and full sun on the ride home.

I keep ride with an extra tube and a CO2 bottle, but keep a spare tube, floor pump, chain lube and rain jacket at work.

I also drive once every two weeks to bring clothes, socks and underwear to work, rather than bring my clothes everyday.
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Old 03-13-05, 08:58 PM   #48
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Bandit,

The 7500FX is an excellent bike. It should work well for you. I find that just wiping off with a towel and baby wipes works for me. But I work on aircraft for the military, so I am always dirty and smelly.


Also, the Bell nightstick lighting system is excellent. The upper models come with bike and helmet lights.
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Old 03-14-05, 02:30 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxaral
Thanks Roody. I think you are onto something. I like the helmet mount because I can see into the curves of the trail I ride, but on the road, motorists can't see it so well when I look away. I have been thinking about adding a bike mounted light so I have a fixed headlight. I am learning the hardway that I can't be the stubborn one, since I'll lose when it comes down to a game of chicken with a motorist. Not all motorists think we have a right to use the roads...
I use a helmet mount. I like this because I can look the motorist right in the eyes. He can't miss me, in fact I surprise him. Also you can get a white blinkie for to mount to the front of the bike which has about a 180 degree visibility. I think Alfred E and price point have 'em.
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Old 03-16-05, 02:18 PM   #50
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Check this highly informative website by someone who rides year in, year out:

www.commuterdude.com

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
What kind of bike works best for commuting? How should I equip it (including lighting)? What should I carry with me? What should I wear? How should I wash up at work? Have I missed any important questions?

These are the questions we see most frequently from new commuters. Before starting a new thread, take a look through here to see if it answers your questions. Feel free to add additional questions and, more importantly, to put in your two cents.
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