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Bike commuting: what has changed?

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Bike commuting: what has changed?

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Old 01-05-18, 12:25 PM
  #51  
robertorolfo
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
...which I see is one of those Knog lights with an old battery, and I just say back, that's a fffing candle.

I found a light on the street, something similar to the knog, and I played around with it and they just don't give off enough light to be useful...
Not a totally serious comment, but... why don't you try to have a romantic dinner with my "candle light" blinking in your face. It won't be as romantic as you think.

Seriously though, I think a lot has to do with location and conditions. A dark, lightly used country road isn't the same as a city street at rush hour. Although, again, I don't see how even a small blinking light can be missed on either...
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Old 01-05-18, 11:19 PM
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Yes, lots of technology that has changed cycling. I've been commuting on a bike for a little over 10 years. The biggest change for me in that time has been the e-bike. I'd imagine most of that have been commuting by bike ride for more than just the commute. A lot of people would have difficulty commuting on a bike, and from a fitness level, may not enjoy it much.

However, the e-bike can change that for a lot of people. No, they are not that popular here like they are in Europe and parts of Asia. However, e-bikes can be a fairly efficient and cost effective alternative to commuting by car or mass transit. I love commuting on an e-bike (as well as on my road bike) so I don't really care if it catches on... I'm pretty happy with the sparsely used MUP's in the area - makes for a really enjoyable ride.
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Old 01-06-18, 06:29 AM
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The only real noticeable changes that I've noticed (right off the top of my head -- before my first cup of coffee).

Bike Lanes and Share the Road signs. Not the fancy colored bike lanes with "boxes" and such, just simple bike lanes. And that's all I need.

I really have no problems commuting, but I read other commuters and their problems, most of which seem to be in the big cities with the fancy bike lanes and how they are incorporated into the roadway in ways in which it makes it seems to cause conflict, but that's just from what I'm gathering by reading. One day I think I'm going to take a trip up to NYC and try them out for myself.

I've already been to DC several times and don't want anything to do with their "bike paths", I'll stay on the roads, even the roads without bike lanes.

P.S. I've been commuting since the mid-80's in several states, but now live in Florida and have no problems on my commutes.
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Old 01-06-18, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
As far as infrastructure goes, it's been a sad trend, imo. There was so much potential, and some of it was done well initially. For instance, first we had bike paths (bike right of way). Those became "shared use paths"(right of way unstated), which have now become de facto off-road sidewalks (pedestrian right of way only). Bike lanes were initially put in where they were most needed and were adequately wide and rarely in door zones. Now they are squeezed in, dysfunctionally narrow and mostly of the dzbl variety that any sane rider won't ride in. Now we're seeing implementations of stuff that requires/encourages cyclists to hang out at intersections by doing a two-step left turn as the default. Ugh! Worse yet, rather than make the point that bikes belong, bike infra today really teaches motorists that we should be staying completely out of their way. It's sad, but we might have been better off without any infrastructure at all, though the best solution is neither extreme, just infrastructure done well (which will mean inconveniencing motorists, which is why it isn't done that way).

Equipment is much better...

Where the rubber meets the road, there's an overlap of the best things in equipment and a cultural/legal change that has made things much better. There are a lot of different types of tires available now that don't easily flat...
All this.

One unfortunate trend I've seen is that bicycle commuting has become a political statement in some areas rather than just being a great way to get around. This serves as an impediment to getting more people cycling by contributing to the perception of it as an abnormal activity pursued by groups they don't want to be associated with.
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Old 01-06-18, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Not a totally serious comment, but... why don't you try to have a romantic dinner with my "candle light" blinking in your face. It won't be as romantic as you think.

Seriously though, I think a lot has to do with location and conditions. A dark, lightly used country road isn't the same as a city street at rush hour. Although, again, I don't see how even a small blinking light can be missed on either...
I pay attention to the bike lights that I see in Brooklyn (I see you're from Queens), and it amazes me how some are just really invisible to most people, pedestrians, drivers, other cyclists. They aren't effective. OTOH, when coming across the Manhattan Bridge on the 2 way bike path sometimes these flashing light cannons are blinding and can't be missed.

Unlike for autos, there aren't any standards for bike lights except in Germany. And in Germany, flashing is not allowed.

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Old 01-07-18, 01:31 AM
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Interesting read. I’ve only been commuting since 2011 but this jives with what I’ve noticed.

Lights - I also use the really bright lights that can be seen from 50 ft away. There’s no point otherwise bc then I won’t be seen. And in the dark as annoying as it can be, it makes traveling safer for everyone, not just me. I highlight pedestrians all the time.

Something I do now - run with a headlamp that has front and back really bright light. It makes a world of difference for me and others who have to spot me (in crosswalks, usually turning vehicles). My cycling has actually made me realize it’s necessary- also trail runners have to use them to see which gave me the idea that this would be worth a try. It got me thinking and it’s great. Visibility with today’s modern advances is so do-able. It can be pricey - but worth it IMO
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Old 01-07-18, 03:10 AM
  #57  
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My family has been commuting by bike always. I got my first bike at the age of 4 and it was a means of fun and getting around. My city is flat with good cycling infrastructure, so bike commuting has always been a "no brainer" for most. Also, the fact that a car has been regarded as a sort of a luxury, except for a relatively short period from 1970 - 1990. Even during that time, I remember being amazed after reading that "in America" most families have more than one family car.

From 1990 to 2000, there's been a great influx of refugees in my city (practically doubling the number of citizens), from hilly, rural areas mostly. Those people didn't have a bike culture - they either walked, or used cars. Most considered riding a bicycle to be a symbol of being poor, or weird, or both. However, since 2010, mostly thanks to "hipsterism", bikes have started being "hip" and "cool". Also, for a while you were looked down on for going to a disco, for example, by a bicycle, but nowadays it's "extra kudos for style". Funny thing is while the young ones will say "that's a cool retro bike you have", I see more middle aged people riding bikes and that number increased, than the young ones.

While I've been bike commuting (that is, bike being the main and often the only means of transport used) always, I had started cycling through the snowy part of the year in 2003. I think. The breaking point was being able to afford going skiing for the first time since 1990 (when the wars and crisis had begun). My thinking was: "you weren't cold skiing down snowy mountains in freezing cold, but you don't ride a bicycle in the city where it's even warmer?!" So I started commuting all year long, using skiing goggles during the snowy days. The only problem was ice. However, thanks to the Internet, I had soon learned about studded bicycle tyres and after that there was no stopping me.

Increased number of cyclists in the last years has affected drivers to pay more attention and expect bicycles. So it feels safer now than a few years back.

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Old 01-08-18, 09:43 AM
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i completely agree with you @Slaninar - if i'm walking in cold weather, and if i can ski or snowboard in cold weather, i can certainly bike. it's all about dressing for the occasion. i learned how to XC ski and i find that dressing similarly is a good bet. if i want to cycle nice and easy i put on an extra layer. if i'm going hard, i leave it off.
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Old 01-08-18, 10:30 AM
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Oh, jeeze, almost forgot two rather significant cycling changes...

The shoe and interlocking clips verses the old cleats and strap system. I jumped on this as soon as I found it available... and never looked back. In my mind the advantage of not having to reach for the straps to clip in or out was a huge improvement in my bike handling.

The other improvement was index shifting. I missed that entirely. I just rode my friction shifter bike on my commute and never even realized that index shifting was changing the way things were done. I would go on sport lunch rides with other cyclists only to have them fly through the gears as if they had electric switches... meanwhile, I was still using downtube friction shifters. No doubt brifters made life a snap for some. Not me, as I just never use them.
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Old 01-10-18, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
I pay attention to the bike lights that I see in Brooklyn (I see you're from Queens), and it amazes me how some are just really invisible to most people, pedestrians, drivers, other cyclists. They aren't effective. OTOH, when coming across the Manhattan Bridge on the 2 way bike path sometimes these flashing light cannons are blinding and can't be missed.

Unlike for autos, there aren't any standards for bike lights except in Germany. And in Germany, flashing is not allowed.

Interesting that flashers are banned in Germany. I've previously asked people in here if there is some established etiquette about flashers, and apparently there isn't any. Either way, the direction of the light is also important. If it's a strong light, you don't want to blinding other people.

I've also been taking note of the lights people are using around the city, and in the past few weeks the most common type I have observed is: no lights. Even at night, no lights. So...

Originally Posted by snow_echo_ny
I also use the really bright lights that can be seen from 50 ft away. There’s no point otherwise bc then I won’t be seen. And in the dark as annoying as it can be, it makes traveling safer for everyone, not just me. I highlight pedestrians all the time.
See above. Are you blinding them? If they aren't "dipped" or the equivalent of "low beams", you may be doing more harm than good.
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Old 01-10-18, 08:43 PM
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I could be it’s hard to say. I aim it toward mirrors so drivers see me as they’re lower to the ground than I am. But if someone is far away they’re going to get caught in the beam. The closer they are the more they can avoid the beam. I like the blinking bc at least people can see. I’ve had people shine bright steady lights at me - that’s when visibility becomes nil which I don’t like. The blinking gets more attention and quicker too. But there’s still visibility as opposed to a steady bright lumens shining - it’s just annoying.

If it’s dipped too far down the beam doesn’t go as far which is a problem. In NYC where there are SO many lights you have to stand out or you simply won’t be seen. Which is dangerous for you IME. I do what I can to be seen so I don’t get hurt.
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Old 01-10-18, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by snow_echo_NY View Post
I could be it’s hard to say. I aim it toward mirrors so drivers see me as they’re lower to the ground than I am. But if someone is far away they’re going to get caught in the beam. The closer they are the more they can avoid the beam. I like the blinking bc at least people can see. I’ve had people shine bright steady lights at me - that’s when visibility becomes nil which I don’t like. The blinking gets more attention and quicker too. But there’s still visibility as opposed to a steady bright lumens shining - it’s just annoying.

If it’s dipped too far down the beam doesn’t go as far which is a problem. In NYC where there are SO many lights you have to stand out or you simply won’t be seen. Which is dangerous for you IME. I do what I can to be seen so I don’t get hurt.
I have the B&M cyo premium dynamo powered light and this light has a sharp cutoff like a car headlight, and still lights the road in front of you and to the sides. If you are ever interested in seeing it in action let me know. There is a very dark place in Prospect Park where I tested my lights, and this one just blew all the rest away. We do have to wait for the snow to melt though.

I also have a Magnic light, a contactless self contained light that is really cool and you'll see that in action.
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Old 01-11-18, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
I have the B&M cyo premium dynamo powered light and this light has a sharp cutoff like a car headlight, and still lights the road in front of you and to the sides. If you are ever interested in seeing it in action let me know. There is a very dark place in Prospect Park where I tested my lights, and this one just blew all the rest away. We do have to wait for the snow to melt though.

I also have a Magnic light, a contactless self contained light that is really cool and you'll see that in action.
that's interesting, all the dynamo lights i've seen IRL are on the dull side. do you have links for either light?
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Old 01-11-18, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by snow_echo_NY View Post
I like the blinking bc at least people can see. I’ve had people shine bright steady lights at me - that’s when visibility becomes nil which I don’t like. The blinking gets more attention and quicker too. But there’s still visibility as opposed to a steady bright lumens shining - it’s just annoying.

If it’s dipped too far down the beam doesn’t go as far which is a problem. In NYC where there are SO many lights you have to stand out or you simply won’t be seen. Which is dangerous for you IME. I do what I can to be seen so I don’t get hurt.
I don't know if you have read through the whole thread, but I agree on the blinking. With so many lights in NY, the blinking definitely stands out, especially among a sea of car headlights.

In terms of optimal height, that might be hard to determine, but there are guidelines for setting headlight angle on things like motorcycles, which might be somewhat helpful.


Originally Posted by zacster
If you are ever interested in seeing it in action let me know. There is a very dark place in Prospect Park where I tested my lights, and this one just blew all the rest away.
Apologies if you two already know one another, but asking someone to meet you in a very dark part of Prospect Park sounds a bit off. Again, half serious statement.
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Old 01-11-18, 08:10 PM
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@robertorolfo , how long have you been cycling in the city? I started here in the 70s. The fraction of cyclists using lights now is higher than ever, and I expect it to continue to improve, so take heart.
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Old 01-11-18, 08:13 PM
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I think it's time for another headlight showdown. We had one three or four years ago on E 23 St. @zacster and @1nterceptor were there, plus others I can't remember.

I aim my headlight to reach the ground about 30 feet ahead of me. I ride next to a wall and make sure the top of the beam is not above the headlight. As I ride along the bike path, I look at where it hits pedestrians. I've seen it hit their necks (which means it's aimed slightly too high) but never their faces.

These German-spec'd beams have to be seen to be appreciated.
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Old 01-12-18, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Interestingly, I have at least one friend who is annoyed at the bike lanes and liked riding in the city before the lanes came in. I do see his point, and as an experienced cyclist, I would be OK without them. They don't make me feel safer. They just make me feel legitimized.
Even if they aren't ideal infrastructure, they make cycling a lot more approachable and grow the activity. I'm definitely a fan. Same reason I'm fond of MUPs even if I am forced to go a bit slower than I'd prefer.

But like somebody else said, the beauty of MUPs/bike paths is being able to relax.
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Old 01-12-18, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Not a totally serious comment, but... why don't you try to have a romantic dinner with my "candle light" blinking in your face. It won't be as romantic as you think.

Seriously though, I think a lot has to do with location and conditions. A dark, lightly used country road isn't the same as a city street at rush hour. Although, again, I don't see how even a small blinking light can be missed on either...
I've totally used my headlight as romantic mood lighting in a power outage.
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Old 01-12-18, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Sullalto View Post
Even if they aren't ideal infrastructure, they make cycling a lot more approachable and grow the activity. I'm definitely a fan. Same reason I'm fond of MUPs even if I am forced to go a bit slower than I'd prefer.

But like somebody else said, the beauty of MUPs/bike paths is being able to relax.
I'm in violent agreement. As someone with good nerves in traffic, I'm astounded at how much I enjoy MUPs and trails. They are definitely worth the lower practical speeds. In fact, they can save time because of their lack of intersections.
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Old 01-12-18, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Sullalto View Post
I've totally used my headlight as romantic mood lighting in a power outage.
I have two powerful led headlights (one 1300 lumens, the other 600) and on Halloween Night I set them on the ground, pointing up through the two trees in my front yard in flash mode. What an effect! We give away more candy than any other house in the 'hood.
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Old 01-12-18, 02:06 PM
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I never saw anyone bike commuting until gas doubled and went up to over $2 a gallon, what about 15 years ago.
Then with the stock market crash in 2008, a lot of people just gave up on the cost of cars, and used a bike instead.
Montreal started a great bike share – free bikes for the day – mostly stuff that the police had ended up with. Painted them green (and took your ID for the day) to encourage you to return them when you were done. This has bloomed into bike share programs all over the world. Heck, I even got General Motors to put a bike share on their engineering campus (Zaagster).
Then the hipster generation made biking cool. Partially because 20 somethings are connected to the internet, don’t need a car like teenagers did in the ‘50s, and just decided they didn’t need the expense.

Between hipsters and bike share, the explosion of bike infrastructure has been kind of cool.

Biggest change though – cell phones while driving . Increased commuting danger 100x or more. That is craziness.
But commuting was good in the 1900’s Had it all to myself, and people in cars actually watched the road.
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Old 01-12-18, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I'm in violent agreement. As someone with good nerves in traffic, I'm astounded at how much I enjoy MUPs and trails. They are definitely worth the lower practical speeds. In fact, they can save time because of their lack of intersections.
I completely agree. I'm "dominant" in traffic, but in one city in particular that I lived in (Denver) getting to work was faster by riding slower on the bike paths.
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Old 01-12-18, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Interesting that flashers are banned in Germany. I've previously asked people in here if there is some established etiquette about flashers, and apparently there isn't any. Either way, the direction of the light is also important. If it's a strong light, you don't want to blinding other people.
God, everything is banned in germany. You ever lived there? Seriously disciplined people. The only exception is the autobahn, but over the decades, traffic has taken the fun out of that.

Best thing about flashers: Clueless drivers on my commute pull over and let me pass. I guess they think I'm an emergency vehicle (with white flashers???)
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Old 01-16-18, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
@robertorolfo , how long have you been cycling in the city? I started here in the 70s. The fraction of cyclists using lights now is higher than ever, and I expect it to continue to improve, so take heart.
Not very long at all. Of course I remember the city before the bike lanes (wasn't riding, but paid attention), so I'm sure it was pretty interesting at night. I know most everything else was more interesting...


Originally Posted by noglider"
I think it's time for another headlight showdown. We had one three or four years ago on E 23 St. @zacster and @1nterceptor were there, plus others I can't remember.
I'm in. Not as a serious competitor, but just to stop by and say hello.
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Old 01-17-18, 10:56 AM
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noglider 
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
I'm in. Not as a serious competitor, but just to stop by and say hello.
For a headlight showdown, I'm thinking some evening next month (February). Last time, we did not find a dark street. I don't know of any in Manhattan, and I live in Manhattan. Do you know of any? Maybe we should take this to email. My address is below.
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Please email me rather than PM'ing me. Thanks.
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