Over the last few months I have ditched my car for the most part and walked to grocery stores, bus stations, library, etc. and my trips are typically 30 min to 1 hr. Eventually I plan to go car free (probably after this winter).
My walks/ future bike rides around Issaquah are 2-3 miles, slight slopes but either manageable or I will just dismount My commute to work is currently multi mode, it includes a bus ride. I can lock the bike in a secured storage location before taking the bus. I am not sure if I will want to eventually bike all the way to work, the full commute trip involves some significant hills and threading through crazy highway intersections.
I have read through ~10 pages of the newbie bike questions. And a recurring theme is to get something stocked and recommended by the local bike shop. Given my short commute needs any entry level bike appears reasonable. The thing is, in Issaquah within the walking distance there are two small bike shops. One specializes in Specialized (gerk's), the other one in Trek (bicycle center of Issaquah). There is also a REI branch.
If I choose to take the bus, then, I believe within the City of Seattle there are actually a lot more bike shops. Being a 5 ft tall female, some of the more traditional, upright bikes available in the City are the most appealing to me right now from an aesthetic POV. But these bikes certainly stand out, people here either have road bikes or mountain bikes.
My questions are actually how often do I have to bring a bike in for servicing, and would I consider lugging the bike on a bus such a hassle that I stop using the bike?
If you were me, which is the longest distance you're willing to travel to a bike shop, and does it matter much that the bike shop is within walking distance in case I have to roll it in?
Other advice about what bike to get, which shop to patronize is also welcomed...