I'm starting graduate school in Iowa City, Iowa and would like recommendations from experienced bike commuters. I've known how to ride a bike since I was a kid, but this will be my first experience using biking as transportation. I'm a female in my early 20's.
My commute to campus will be 1.5 miles on sidewalks. I may ride other places that are within 5 miles and have either bike paths, bike lanes, or sidewalks. The terrain is not necessarily flat, but inclines are gradual, not steep. I will usually be wearing a backpack when I commute carrying school work, books, a change of clothes, etc. I will have to park my bike outside all day while on campus and can store it in a garage each evening. Being in Iowa, there will be times when the weather is windy, rainy, icy, and snowy. There will be times when I need to wear snowboots. There will be times when I am riding home after dark. I might like a basket in the front or rear(preferably) to carry my lunch, groceries, books, etc. Occasionally I may like to ride somewhere with my 10lb dog so I would need a basket that can suite a dog, or a bike that a small "Pet Taxi" kennel can attach to.
I don't know much about bikes yet, but I believe I would need a hybrid. I like the way some bikes look, but they may not be appropriate for my purpose, that's why I'm here. I don't know how much I should expect to spend for this bike.
In extreme conditions or for longer distances, I could take the city bus instead of biking. I do have a car, and will not be using it to drive to campus. I do not envision a need to transport my bike via my car. I would really appreciate some feedback and suggestions from experienced commuters.