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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 02-06-14, 07:55 AM   #1
CrankyOne
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Is bike commuting a bad goal?

Interesting.

http://www.streets.mn/2014/01/14/is-...ng-a-bad-goal/
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Old 02-06-14, 09:01 AM   #2
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Well, the article doesn't say that it's a bad goal for any of *us* to have, it's merely discussing from a government/infrastructure creation point of view. I think the article is correct that overall our infrastructure should first focus on creating bike riders, rather than bike commuters. However, that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be an individual's goal to commute. Nearly everyone here that commutes (yes, some of the people here actually *ride* their bikes, instead of just leaving them in the garage because it's cold outside (like me. )) is doing far more than the current infrastructure is designed to accomodate, because current infrastructure has been so focused on single-occupant car traffic.
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Old 02-06-14, 09:08 AM   #3
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Not a bad article. I would love to commute to work, but at 43 miles one way on major highways, it's not happening. I could use trails and other bike routes, but it would
mean adding another 15-20 miles to my commute and still driving to a parking area.
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Old 02-06-14, 09:13 AM   #4
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His main point appears to be that we're all statistical outliers, so he speculates that cycling advocacy should more effectively focus on all the other short strips.

It's true that we are outliers - more like 0.6% modal share in commuting, or even less according to some sources - but it misses the mark in my opinion. That .6% is dwarfed by the percentage of short commutes that could feasibly be undertaken by bicycle. There's no need to abandon that in search of other low-hanging fruit. Our best kept secret isn't some arcane knowledge, physical toughness, accident of circumstance or anything like that. The secret, that most people here in the US can't seem to grasp, is that it's actually so easy.
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Old 02-06-14, 09:18 AM   #5
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A very well written and well thought out article in my opinion. It's kind of overly focused on MN and the Twin Cities as opposed to a more national view but since it is for a readerstship in that area, no big surprise.

Overall, bicycle commuting is a good goal but how to fit that into the local infastructures is the huge challenge. My bicycle commute is 16 miles (on the bike) and 22 miles on the Metro Train, with no bicycle specifc infastructure at all. And yet, it still works well!

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Old 02-06-14, 09:38 AM   #6
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I tend to agree with the article.

When I first bought my house, I was sick of driving 100 miles a day, and so made it a point to move close to work. And for a little over 2 years I was less than 3 miles from work. I wasn't so much into cycling back then, and even if I was, I needed to go to jobsites and other meetings often, and we didn't have any company cars at that time.

Then my office moved closer to my boss (company owner), and away from me - about 12 miles by the most direct car route.

When I started cycling again, I longed to be able to bike to work, but didn't think it would be feasible at 15 miles one way for the most direct and safe bike route. But I now try to do it twice a week unless the weather sucks as it has lately.

I didn't plan on buying lycra and cycle-specific clothing when I first started. But as I got more and more into it, I quickly realized that the cycling stuff is simply more comfortable and practical for all but the shortest of trips. I really could care less what people think of my black tights I wear in winter. But it's so much nicer wearing that than some flappy, baggy jeans or other pants that get caught up in rotating parts.

Cycling for short trips around town is a MAJOR problem where I live. To get to the closest grocery store, I have to cycle part of the way on a 2-lane 40 MPH arterial road, and a 55 MPH 5-lane state highway. I can do it, yes, and have done so several times. It's only 2 miles (farther than I would like) but I think only experienced cyclists are willing to ride on roads such as those. To get to where I normally grocery shop is nearly 4 miles away. While that can be accessed through mostly residential roads, hauling a load would make the trip take well over 20 minutes each way. There's also an EXTREMELY busy intersection to contend with.

Even my son's school is a PITA to deal with getting to on a bike. There's a road through my neighborhood which doesn't connect with its continuation just a few hundred yards west, due to a previously planned subdivision going belly-up before the roads were built in 2007/2008. The school is just about another 1/2 miles past that. That then causes us to have to more than double the trip distance out of the way to get there - 2.8 miles instead of the 1.3 it would take us if the road was connected.

My town needs both bike and pedestrian facilities in an extremely, glaringly bad way. I have emailed the new mayor about this a few times, and have received some promising responses about the future of infrastructure in my area. The previous mayor of 16 years who went out due to scandal, never expressed any interest in this whatsoever, so hopefully we'll get some things going with the current administration.

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Old 02-06-14, 10:23 AM   #7
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Leggings look quite fashionable on some women, not so fashionable on the rest of us. And clickety-clacking through the office (or local cafe) with a bit of commute odor for accompaniment doesn’t work for most of us.
This is not an issue with me. I attribute all the worlds ills, from teen pregnancy to global warming, to so many people focusing on what others think about how we look.

There is a public meeting next week on realigning my towns main business thoroughfare. https://www.google.com/maps/preview/.../data=!3m1!1e3
https://www.google.com/maps/preview/...vgN3BWeWng!2e0

This town, in an attempt to get listed as gold star bike friendly rated, wants to reduce this to one lane each way. One motivation is that tourism is a significant industry in the town, which hosts a century ride, a triathlon, and has snagged the position as start point of RAAM. As a cyclist in this community, I am all for improved infrastructure, but this is dumb on a number of levels.

First, it isn't necessary. Most cyclists, locals and tourists alike take Pacific Street, which parallels the ocean, and has issues that can be addressed much more easily.

Second, it increases backlash among many in the driving public. I am all for increased use of bikes in daily life. Antagonizing those who will never get on a bike is, IMO, counter productive.
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Old 02-06-14, 10:30 AM   #8
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I also find it interesting that the article is written for us in MN, a state where bicycle infrastructure is already quite amazing, but the weather is ridiculous and the only way to fix bicycling here will be to have EVERYONE drive until all fossil fuels are turned into CO2, warming the planet.
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Old 02-06-14, 10:50 AM   #9
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I like how the author doesn't want to set goals which require "that people ‘be in shape’. " He clears understands Americans.
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Old 02-06-14, 11:06 AM   #10
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This is not an issue with me. I attribute all the worlds ills, from teen pregnancy to global warming, to so many people focusing on what others think about how we look.

There is a public meeting next week on realigning my towns main business thoroughfare. https://www.google.com/maps/preview/.../data=!3m1!1e3
https://www.google.com/maps/preview/...vgN3BWeWng!2e0

This town, in an attempt to get listed as gold star bike friendly rated, wants to reduce this to one lane each way. One motivation is that tourism is a significant industry in the town, which hosts a century ride, a triathlon, and has snagged the position as start point of RAAM. As a cyclist in this community, I am all for improved infrastructure, but this is dumb on a number of levels.

First, it isn't necessary. Most cyclists, locals and tourists alike take Pacific Street, which parallels the ocean, and has issues that can be addressed much more easily.

Second, it increases backlash among many in the driving public. I am all for increased use of bikes in daily life. Antagonizing those who will never get on a bike is, IMO, counter productive.
Any idea what they propose to do with that road in question? I hope it's not travel lane, then car parking, then bike lane between the cars and the curb. Can't stand that design. If they could eliminate on-street parking, they could do 2 travel lanes plus a bike lane, with a striped buffer in between. That would be nice. If street parking is a must, it would be better to have a travel lane, bike lane, striped buffer, than car parking, to keep those on bikes out of the door zone, and keep cyclists as visible as possible to the cars.
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Old 02-06-14, 11:27 AM   #11
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I think the article was OK. The real point to be made, IMO, is found in a single sentence: "The biggest issue in Shoreview seems to be mindshare—people don’t think of their bicycle as a mode of transportation." I don't know if the writer has data to back up some of his claims such as: "In the bicycle as transportation world a major goal, and for many the primary goal, is people commuting to work by bicycle." In any event, the goal of seeing bicycles as legitimate transportation may be a better way to frame things.
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Old 02-06-14, 11:29 AM   #12
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I think in areas where you see large numbers of people on bikes, like NYC, Portland, London, etc., most of those people are commuters. There are recreational cyclists everywhere, including those cities I listed. But when you see large amounts of cyclists I think they're usually commuters, or at least bike "errand-runners".

At least that's how it appears to me in the many, many videos I've seen from those different cities.
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Old 02-06-14, 11:34 AM   #13
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Any idea what they propose to do with that road in question? I hope it's not travel lane, then car parking, then bike lane between the cars and the curb. Can't stand that design. If they could eliminate on-street parking, they could do 2 travel lanes plus a bike lane, with a striped buffer in between. That would be nice. If street parking is a must, it would be better to have a travel lane, bike lane, striped buffer, than car parking, to keep those on bikes out of the door zone, and keep cyclists as visible as possible to the cars.
I doubt that street parking can be, or even should be, eliminated. It is my understating, (I could be wrong) that single car lane/bike lane/parking is the main alternative under study. I think a better plan would be to make Pacific street one way north bound, and Myers street one way southbound between Mission and Oceanside Blvd. This would leave Coast Highway (Hill St, as many of us locals still call it) as it is. Unfortunately these meetings are never held when I am able to go to them.

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I think in areas where you see large numbers of people on bikes, like NYC, Portland, London, etc., most of those people are commuters. There are recreational cyclists everywhere, including those cities I listed. But when you see large amounts of cyclists I think they're usually commuters, or at least bike "errand-runners".

At least that's how it appears to me in the many, many videos I've seen from those different cities.
This is the impression I get too. The telling thing is to look at those riding Monday through Friday as opposed to those riding on weekends. Old US 101, which that street is part of, from Oceanside thirty miles all the way to San Diego is thick with bikes on the weekend. During the week, the overall population of bikes goes down, and the ratio of hybrids to roadies goes way up.

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Old 02-06-14, 11:35 AM   #14
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I actually attended a DOT meeting a couple years ago about a similar topic. The discussion was about bike trails in general and the biggest complaint was all the miles of bike trails that go nowhere? We have the Wobegan trail that runs from the west side of St. Cloud to Fergus Falls. Thats over 100 miles of paved trail (and I have biked it all) that serves very few people. Maybe 1% of the local population has biked more than 20 miles of it, yet my children take the bus (actual they drive now) to school which is only 2 miles away because there is no safe route for them to bike. I watch year after year as roads get "upgraded" with no consideration for safe bike routes. I don't need to see fancy car, park, ride lanes just a nice wide shoulder with an occasional sign and a bike painted on it would be fine.
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Old 02-06-14, 11:44 AM   #15
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I actually attended a DOT meeting a couple years ago about a similar topic. The discussion was about bike trails in general and the biggest complaint was all the miles of bike trails that go nowhere? We have the Wobegan trail that runs from the west side of St. Cloud to Fergus Falls. Thats over 100 miles of paved trail (and I have biked it all) that serves very few people. Maybe 1% of the local population has biked more than 20 miles of it, yet my children take the bus (actual they drive now) to school which is only 2 miles away because there is no safe route for them to bike. I watch year after year as roads get "upgraded" with no consideration for safe bike routes. I don't need to see fancy car, park, ride lanes just a nice wide shoulder with an occasional sign and a bike painted on it would be fine.
That's the way I feel about my town. We have Z-E-R-O bike lanes, and very few sidewalks. Most sidewalks are in isolated subdivisions only. The "older-style" planned area of town where small roads actually connect to larger roads, mostly have no sidewalks at all.

One really bad example is an area of town where there is lots of development - shops, restaurants, hotels, etc. etc. Traffic is HEAVY in this area. If you're staying in one of the hotels, you might like to cross the TEN-lane road to get to the restaurants (ten lanes near where it connects to the interstate, including turn lanes). But if you walk down the street you're met with simply a cove turn-around (cul-de-sac as some call it) with no actual connection to that main road. You would have to jaywalk there which is very nearly suicidal. Or you could walk a ways over and go down another street to the actual light that crosses the 10-lane road, but I'm pretty sure there are zero sidewalks, and not even sure if there are walk crossing signals or not.

It's a RIDICULOUSLY stupid piece of planning on the part of the city and developers.

*edit* this is the area: https://www.google.com/maps?ll=34.96...,96.96,,0,1.41 8 lanes not 10, but still. You try getting from the hotels to the left, behind the Aldi, to the restaurants on the right, on foot. You have to get in your car and drive literally half a mile to get there safely. And I was right, no crosswalks or crossing signals at that major intersection up ahead. It makes me embarrassed to live here sometimes.

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Old 02-06-14, 11:53 AM   #16
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Was bored after the first couple paragraphs and stopped reading. Does the guy have a point, or is it just whining?
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Old 02-06-14, 01:16 PM   #17
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The reason why many MUTs or bike trails "go nowhere" is that they often follow rights-of-way for sewer lines and/or floodplains where cities are trying to limit development. At least that is the case where I live. We have many, many miles of MUTs in my city but none of them are usable for my bike commute -- at least without greatly increasing my commute distance. However, people who live near the MUTs might be able to use them for commuting, depending on where they work.

I agree with the general premise of the article that bike commuting is not realistic or practical for most people. However, even if only 5% of city's commuters traveled by bike, that could make a significant difference in traffic, air pollution, etc. To successfully bike commute, someone must live within a rideable distance of their workplace, own a bike and equipment suitable for commuting, be in good enough shape to ride to work, and feel comfortable enough to safely ride in traffic. Meeting all of those conditions is a tall order for most people. I have been a road cyclist for 40+ years but didn't start bike commuting until about 7 years ago, mostly because I didn't feel safe enough to commute in rush-hour traffic. I also bike commuted exclusively in college, but my commute distance was much shorter and I didn't have a car that I could rely on.
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Old 02-06-14, 02:06 PM   #18
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We have many, many miles of MUTs in my city but none of them are usable for my bike commute -- at least without greatly increasing my commute distance. However, people who live near the MUTs might be able to use them for commuting, depending on where they work.
Where I live there are several MUT's that are very good for commuting. Your basic premise is pretty valid though, and in my case it happens to be a happy coincidence.
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Old 02-06-14, 02:30 PM   #19
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but the weather is ridiculous and the only way to fix bicycling here will be to have EVERYONE drive until all fossil fuels are turned into CO2, warming the planet.
I've always thought I was a hearty minnesotan, until this year. My inner wimpy has come out of the closet.
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Old 02-06-14, 02:34 PM   #20
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yet my children take the bus (actual they drive now) to school which is only 2 miles away because there is no safe route for them to bike. I watch year after year as roads get "upgraded" with no consideration for safe bike routes. I don't need to see fancy car, park, ride lanes just a nice wide shoulder with an occasional sign and a bike painted on it would be fine.
I'd really like to see great infrastructure near schools so kids can ride. The lopsidedness of funding for roads vs bike/walk is irritating.
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Old 02-06-14, 05:30 PM   #21
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I think that was a great article, except that it misses the following obvious point: for cycling commuting to become more prevalent, more people have to live near work. Which means lots of people either moving house or changing jobs.
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Old 02-06-14, 08:15 PM   #22
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I think that was a great article, except that it misses the following obvious point: for cycling commuting to become more prevalent, more people have to live near work. Which means lots of people either moving house or changing jobs.
No, it means stable and predictable jobs so that people can actually plan to ten and twenty years. If a person could expect to have a job in a place they would be willing to eventually move close enough to commute; but, if the job is expected to be temporary then there is no value in moving because thee is no way to estimate where the next job will be.

Where I am I see many employer subdivisions. In these areas the employer offers the homes to the employees at a steep discount (typically at cost and the interest is based on the employers long-term loan rates). They then run buses to those areas (yes, like the Google Bus).

While this is not bike commuting, it gets a lot of cars off the road and it gets rid of one of the main reasons for owning a car in the first place, getting to work. Prople who do not live in the subdivisions typically cycle to a nearby one and ride the bus from there. This is generally possible because people can plan on long term jobs. Is it the most efficient for any particular enterprise? No; however, it is very efficient for the aggregate.
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Old 02-06-14, 09:33 PM   #23
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Where I am I see many employer subdivisions. In these areas the employer offers the homes to the employees at a steep discount (typically at cost and the interest is based on the employers long-term loan rates). They then run buses to those areas (yes, like the Google Bus).
China?
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Old 02-06-14, 09:51 PM   #24
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The secret, that most people here in the US can't seem to grasp, is that it's actually so easy.
And fun! Don't forget about fun!
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Old 02-07-14, 12:12 AM   #25
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was talking to a girl at a party who is working for the small city I live in planning on a massive change to downtown streets and traffic. some of the proposals made no sense for either cyclists or drivers. on one particular route she was talking about I asked about provisions for cyclists, her response "oh, there's no room for them."

a few minutes later she asks my job, which happens to be working in a local bike shop, the bike shop whose owner is heavily involved in local bicycle advocacy
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