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Question about commuting

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Question about commuting

Old 05-15-17, 05:46 AM
  #1  
IndianaRecRider
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Question about commuting

I want to start commuting to work as I now only live 4.5 miles from my job. Before, it was closer to 20 miles each way and would have involved too many "major" roads with heavy traffic no matter what time of day it is.

My job requires me to wear a suit and tie, so I'm thinking that when I do start commuting, I'd drive over to my job in the afternoon of my first night back (usually get two nights off in a row) and drop off my work clothes and leave them there all week. No shower facilities for employees to use, but we do have a washroom with a large sink which I could use for a sponge bath and leave all cleaning supplies in a locker.

So I guess my question is this.....When y'all started out, did you "scout out" the best route(s) from home to job before hand, or did ya just get on the bike and go? Half of my commute would be at night (I work the graveyard shift), so I'm thinking that scouting routes would be a good idea so I know if there are any potholes or other assorted road hazards I'd need to keep a sharp eye out for.

Thanks in advance for any and all comments, tips and suggestions.




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Old 05-15-17, 05:57 AM
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When I started commuting by bike 6 years ago (again, after a long lay off), I spent a weekend riding some promising routes. I live about 2 miles from work, but high traffic on the shortest route forces me to take a more wandering route. I think the weekend recon rides were invaluable to establishing my original "base" route with a few other options. Over the years, I have added other alternate routes. My usual route now is about 7 miles one way.

Good luck.
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Old 05-15-17, 06:03 AM
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Google maps and Google street view is a good way to do it without actually have to ride it. You can do it in the comfort of your own home.
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Old 05-15-17, 06:19 AM
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4 1/2 miles away, do you already know the roads?

At least now, I tend to like to vary my routes somewhat. Wherever the wind blows.

Get good lights, and do your best with road hazards. Or, ride the route during the day once. It is only about 10 miles RT.
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Old 05-15-17, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by IndianaRecRider View Post
When y'all started out, did you "scout out" the best route(s) from home to job before hand, or did ya just get on the bike and go?
Map it, drive it, ride it on a non-work day.
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Old 05-15-17, 07:42 AM
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"When y'all started out, did you "scout out" the best route(s) from home to job before hand"

Of course! Full -dress test runs on the weekend, or during actual commuting times.

I'd do this if I was driving the commute also.
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Old 05-15-17, 08:20 AM
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1st job location (17 miles one-way) knew the route from taking it by car but I did a test ride on a quiet Sunday morning

2nd job location (13 miles one-way) knew most of the route from taking it by car but had to use google maps to cut it down to the least amount of miles. I don't remember doing a test run there, but likely left plenty of extra time, the 1st time biking it

3rd job location (22 miles one-way) this was a tough one cuz it's a 40 min+ drive (& more miles) all highways no bike friendly rds. it took a long time to develop a bike route. lots of test runs over parts of the route. 1st couple of test rides involved some significant wrong turns. used google maps to fine tune it down to the shortest # of miles. driving the planned bike route (to work in the am) on a week-day proved impossible due to traffic. started driving the bike route home from work at 5pm ish. until it became ingrained in my brain. then I was able to successfully bike it (44 miles round trip) on a quiet Sunday & some Saturdays as tests. did this several times over several years before figuring out how to work it into a work-week. last summer, developed basically a one-way ride. drive w bike on car to office Sunday afternoon, then biked home, leaving car & supplies at work parking lot. then Monday morning biked to office. then after work drove home w bike on car. only did this in good weather. recently took a 2nd job working Sundays. very physical & on my feet for 8hrs, so, doing the Sunday night thing its out ... I'll need another plan ... ;-(

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Old 05-15-17, 08:42 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by IndianaRecRider View Post
I want to start commuting to work as I now only live 4.5 miles from my job. Before, it was closer to 20 miles each way and would have involved too many "major" roads with heavy traffic no matter what time of day it is.

My job requires me to wear a suit and tie, so I'm thinking that when I do start commuting, I'd drive over to my job in the afternoon of my first night back (usually get two nights off in a row) and drop off my work clothes and leave them there all week. No shower facilities for employees to use, but we do have a washroom with a large sink which I could use for a sponge bath and leave all cleaning supplies in a locker.

So I guess my question is this.....When y'all started out, did you "scout out" the best route(s) from home to job before hand, or did ya just get on the bike and go? Half of my commute would be at night (I work the graveyard shift), so I'm thinking that scouting routes would be a good idea so I know if there are any potholes or other assorted road hazards I'd need to keep a sharp eye out for.

Thanks in advance for any and all comments, tips and suggestions.




Geezer alert!!!!

Back when I started commuting, we had to use these things called "maps" that were printed on a substance made from murdered trees called "paper". We also had to depend on these things that sit inside our skulls that control us called "brains" We didn't have electronic devices that controlled us.

All kidding aside, yes, I suggest that people do a dry run on a nonwork day so that they can get a feel for the route. Explore a bit and find parallel routes to busy streets if necessary. I often tell people to look at the world with "bike eyes" because far too many look at the world with car eyes. A fast straight route for a car isn't good for bicycling while the opposite is often try for bikes.

I would also suggest that you purchase lights if you are going to ride at night. The majority of bicycling related deaths and injuries happen at night but only a fraction of people ride bicycles at night. And don't just get "be seen lights". Get bright powerful lights...preferably multiple...for the front and rear. This light, for example, cost less than most "be seen" lights and is actually bright enough to see the road even under street lights. If you can see, you'll be seen.

Even entertain the idea of adding one of these lights to your helmet. They are cheap enough and the mobility of a helmet light is very useful.

Good luck.
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Old 05-15-17, 08:50 AM
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I am very familiar with all the roads I can take to work, which are direct which are indirect but safer. So I just started riding with that knowledge and tried different ones each day to and from. The only map I checked before setting out is a bicycle map that indicates the roads with bike lanes, so I could make as much use of them as possible. If I were unfamiliar with the roads, I would have sat down with a map prior.
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Old 05-15-17, 01:00 PM
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when I started out, I still lived 25mi from work, so I drove to work with my bike and clothes to change into to ride home, and clothes to wear for work the next day. Then I rode home 25mi (2hr), rested, and rode back in the morning, and drove everything home that night. I am fortunate to have not just lockers but also showers at work, so it worked out great.

Eventually I moved closer to work specifically so I could bike-commute full time. I'm 5.5mi from work now. By that time I was used to showering and changing at work, so it wasn't a big deal; rather it was easier to handle the shorter distance.

It is a very common recommendation though, to do a dry-run ride on a non-work-day, so you can scope out any potential trouble spots, and when you get home research alternate routes (parallel side-streets etc)
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Old 05-15-17, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ruberad View Post
do a dry-run ride on a non-work-day, so you can scope out any potential trouble spots, and when you get home research alternate routes (parallel side-streets etc)
+1
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Old 05-15-17, 02:00 PM
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At my prior job, there was only one road.

At my current job, there are several possible variants and each has advantages and disadvantages.

The road with the least distance and climbing home is a major artery and it's also under major construction. To be avoided this year. When they finish it, it will look like the freeway from Matrix Reloaded, but at least it will have bike lanes.

The bike trail can seem very dark in moonless winter, and sort of dodgy with homeless if very late at night.

The bike trail connects to a fire road that I usually take and it shortens my ride by a mile, but if I kept to the pavement my bike would stay a lot cleaner.

There's a fishing season when the fishermen present a hazard, they wear dark clothes and carry no lights but often have a pole with a hook in one hand and a bucket with a big fish in the other.

There is a route to work with almost no climbing that is longer but faster, so net time is about the same. It's clockwise around a lake so the bike lane is continuous and there are few intersections that present any trouble. The same route does not work going home because counter clockwise around the lake you're on the outside of road and there's just a lot more to navigate.

I have MTB options but I don't often take them because they are slower and the home workload is really high right now.
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Old 05-15-17, 04:07 PM
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I started by taking longer and longer rides along a route that took me either to work, friends or just new places I wanted to see before I realized I was riding the same basic route and that riding to work was better than getting up to ride for exercise before driving to work. Riding the last mile or so to work wasn't too much harder by then as I was already familiar with most of the ride in and the rest of the ride involved an area I'd lived in previously.
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Old 05-15-17, 07:49 PM
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Always keep you eyes and mind open to try different routes. When I started commuting I had a stressful intersection, followed by a block that had cars parked on the street, and only one lane for traffic. It created a couple of blocks that made me really nervous. I had my closest call of getting hit broadside at speed in that intersection. I moved my route 1 block to cross that busy arterial 4 lane and much to my surprise, the first week, 3 of the 5 days I never had to get off the pedals! I've been hung up a couple of times but compared to going through that intersection every day, I'll take the wait. The "car eyes" / "bike eyes" comment was very appropriate.
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Old 05-15-17, 09:05 PM
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Scout in advance via Google Street View.

Be aware that Google Street View may not reveal actual commuting conditions -- depends on year, day, time, etc.

Check Strava heat map or other resources. Sometimes fellow cyclists have found alternate routes that aren't immediately apparent.

Trial run outside peak traffic hours or on a weekend.

For nighttime rides, more lights. I like plenty of separation between lights to help drivers judge distance, orientation, approach speed, etc. I have front and rear lights on my helmet and bike. Often more than one light on the bike, front and rear. Unlike cars we can't get enough horizontal separation between headlights and taillights to assist with spatial orientation, but we can do vertical separation.
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Old 05-16-17, 05:23 AM
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Thanks for the comments. Lots of good information contained within them.



Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
4 1/2 miles away, do you already know the roads?

At least now, I tend to like to vary my routes somewhat. Wherever the wind blows.

Get good lights, and do your best with road hazards. Or, ride the route during the day once. It is only about 10 miles RT.
I do, but there is one stretch of road (about 3/4 of a mile long) I really wouldn't want to ride at 10:30pm. It's narrow, very curvy and no street lights. Even with a reflective vest and lights, I'm not sure I'd want to chance it, at least not as I'm first starting out. The alternate streets would each add about an extra 1.5 miles each way, which I guess would be good for adding to my mileage.




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Old 05-16-17, 05:30 AM
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I have thought of another question, so I'd like to toss it out as well for comments....

I'm planning on using a small'ish backpack to transport items to and from work with me (tablet, lunch, book and or magazine) and I have one that I've used a few years ago when I was more into hiking than I am nowadays. Even though it's somewhat small, it is made from a heavyweight material, so I guess the question is....would I be better off buying a new, lighter weight backpack that may help wick away sweat, or do you think the old one would be okay for a 4.5 to 6 mile trip?




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Old 05-16-17, 05:47 AM
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Anything you carry that rests right up against your back is going to make you sweat more. If you don't like that then go with panniers or saddle bag.

There are bags that have ventilation 'tubes' that lifts the backpack away from your back. I can't speak of their cooling effects.
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Old 05-16-17, 07:39 AM
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Regarding backpacks, I dislike 'em but that's mostly because of chronic back and neck pain from an old injury. Decades ago I used backpacks to carry a few items, like jeans and a casual shirt to change into at work.

Nowadays I use a cargo net to stash whatever I'm carrying on the rear rack. A few cycling friends use rack packs that unhook easily.

I'm in Texas where summers are about as hot as it gets in the U.S. Many of my cycling friends prefer backpacks even in summer on casual rides. Yup, they get hot and sweaty. I suppose they'd carry at least a change of shirt for commuting.
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Old 05-16-17, 08:16 AM
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short trip like that it almost doesn't matter what you use to carry stuff. good idea to start w what you have. I'm a rear rack & trunk person. but then, I don't carry a laptop. I have used a courier bag in addition to the trunk, before a smaller trunk was replaced with this big one. if I were to carry something fragile like that, I would grab the courier bag again

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Old 05-16-17, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I'm in Texas where summers are about as hot as it gets in the U.S.
gonna be 90 or higher Thursday up here, wutz your forecast?
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Old 05-16-17, 08:28 AM
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We've had quite a mild spring so far. Might hit the high 80s/low 90s this week, although we're due for rain and temps down into the 70s.

By July we'll be in the upper 90s/low 100s through September. But it's usually pretty dry. You get used to it. Boston is probably muggy and uncomfortable in the 90s.
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Old 05-16-17, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Boston is probably muggy and uncomfortable in the 90s.
low humidity until Thursday, then it will be horrible, as-in: hot AND humid. figures, that's the day/night of Wifey's students' annual art show
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Old 05-16-17, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by IndianaRecRider View Post
I have thought of another question, so I'd like to toss it out as well for comments....

I'm planning on using a small'ish backpack to transport items to and from work with me (tablet, lunch, book and or magazine) and I have one that I've used a few years ago when I was more into hiking than I am nowadays. Even though it's somewhat small, it is made from a heavyweight material, so I guess the question is....would I be better off buying a new, lighter weight backpack that may help wick away sweat, or do you think the old one would be okay for a 4.5 to 6 mile trip?




Start with what you have and see what you think of it after you use it a while. I prefer a backpack, but have a couple to choose from as well as panniers and pick the best tool for the job depending on the weather and load for the day.
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Old 05-16-17, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by IndianaRecRider View Post
I want to start commuting to work as I now only live 4.5 miles from my job. Before, it was closer to 20 miles each way and would have involved too many "major" roads with heavy traffic no matter what time of day it is.

My job requires me to wear a suit and tie, so I'm thinking that when I do start commuting, I'd drive over to my job in the afternoon of my first night back (usually get two nights off in a row) and drop off my work clothes and leave them there all week. No shower facilities for employees to use, but we do have a washroom with a large sink which I could use for a sponge bath and leave all cleaning supplies in a locker.

So I guess my question is this.....When y'all started out, did you "scout out" the best route(s) from home to job before hand, or did ya just get on the bike and go? Half of my commute would be at night (I work the graveyard shift), so I'm thinking that scouting routes would be a good idea so I know if there are any potholes or other assorted road hazards I'd need to keep a sharp eye out for.

Thanks in advance for any and all comments, tips and suggestions.





If commute has no long, steep climbs, you could ride to work taking it easy and not sweating. Even in the summer - no more sweaty than on a bus, or walking for a kilometre or so.

Clothes can be rolled so they don't get (too) wrinkled.

Do make a trial run, see what routes are available and which do you prefer. I didn't need any scouting, because I cycle in a 100 km radius of my city so knew all the routes before I had started working, but would do so in a new city.

Get good lights, mudguards and rack are also good for paved road commuting - you get cleaner and drier. Backpack tied to a rack keeps your back from sweating, while being more aero than panniers - which are also OK (I use them when it's pouring rain, or when I haul many things, otherwise just a backpack - but the bike caries it, not my back).

If you don't already know - learn how to patch a flat tyre, carry a spare tube and a tyre patch kit (Rema is a good option).
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