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My morning commute (handlebar video)

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My morning commute (handlebar video)

Old 09-12-07, 09:10 PM
  #1  
jimlamb
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My morning commute (handlebar video)

Since there's been some discussion on the merits of vide cameras on bikes, I thought I would post a video of my morning commute. I've sped it up so that you can view the entire 8 mile ride in about 8 minutes. I've also added some simple commentary on the route. Here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWkYYEu4afc

Let me know what you think and, if you have a video setup on your bike, please share your own commute!
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Old 09-12-07, 09:38 PM
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I think you are either very brave, or suicidal. I wouldn't commute on roads like that but I'm older and value my life.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:49 PM
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I agree. I would be sh!tting bricks nearly the entire ride (minus the wide shoulder).
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Old 09-12-07, 09:51 PM
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Nice wide shoulder? Thats a normal shoulder for me.

Scary ride. lol
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Old 09-12-07, 09:51 PM
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How many times sped up was that?
And what is that place that you work at? It looks boring.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:57 PM
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The worst road for me is a 3 lane 40 mph stretch and I sometimes go a mile out of my way to avoid it and take the MUP.

How much did your handlebar cam cost? It would be interesting to see more people's commute.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:58 PM
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First I thought it looked like a nice ride compared mine. But I know mine is not very safe. The second thing is about your camera. What is it? Where did you get it? how much is it? Relly cool. How much trouble is it to download to your computer? My wife is sitting here on the couch and has no idea I just decided to spend money.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:59 PM
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I'm guessing the black dot at the beginning is the sun. I hate riding into the sun cause I can't see and I know then that the drivers coming up behind me can't see me. But that will change in a week or two. It reminds me that my route will have this problem for a while soon. As for feedback for what you could do better, I couldn't spot anything. Just be real careful cutting through the hotel parking lot at the end though. When I cut through parking lots I listen, stand up and scan each car if I can. Most of the time nothing happens, which lulls me into a false sense of security for when the one time a car pulls out. In winter when you can see the exhaust fumes it's easier to spot a car that might suddenly pull out.

Don't have a camera yet. But I plan to get one when the budget permits it. Thanks for sharing it.
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Old 09-12-07, 10:24 PM
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Pretty cool with the video. The commute looks interesting but flat compared to around here. Most of the drivers were courteous and gave you enough room (two exceptions). i agree with Unkchunk about the parking lot and I wondered about passing on the left. I think you did a real smart thing as far as positioning your bike for stops, turns, and when you took the lane
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Old 09-12-07, 10:34 PM
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Thats awesome man, great ride. Now I'm all excited about finding a way to do that too. I'm going to have to find a way to hook up a USB webcam or something to my powerbook in my backpack and mount it on the handle bars.

Honestly though I ride some roads like you do... on the sidewalk. People around here *HATE* bikers on the road. You get yelled at, crowded and all kinds of nasty any time you get in their way.

I am sooo ready to get home and ride to work I'm really missin' it right about now.
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Old 09-12-07, 11:29 PM
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Roads like what? I didn't see anything terrible. Sure, the cars are zipping along pretty quickly, but the video is sped up. The traffic is not that heavy except for the last stretch on the multilaner that seems to be fairly short. It does look like it may be stressful, but heck, if there is no other way to where you're going will you just stay home?

And why would anybody wonder about passing on the left? You wouldn't advocate passing on the right, would you?
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Old 09-13-07, 12:00 AM
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Hey pretty good! Man, there is a lots of traffic on you route. The multi-lane roads would give me the heeby-geebies, but you seem to navigate them well. Better than your last video at least. You wait your turn for the red lights, and filter on the left when available. That's a good thing.

What I am curious about now is, what are you wearing and what do you use to make yourself visible? Are you going to continue bike commuting throughout the winter? If you go to work at the same time, the sun will be much lower in the coming months. Get your self a good blinky if you don't have one. People here like the Planet Bike super flash. But if you have a bit of cash, get yourself a Dinotte set up. Drivers should give you a wide berth then...
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Old 09-13-07, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by paulwwalters View Post
How many times sped up was that?
It's 4X normal speed and I edited out the time spent sitting at lights. My average speed on that ride was just over 15 mph for 8 miles (my best speed on that route was an average 20 mph). The video is just over 8 minutes long, so it makes it seem as though I'm averaging 60 mph!

Originally Posted by paulwwalters View Post
And what is that place that you work at? It looks boring.
Microsoft. I'm a technical manager/product designer. See my work blog.
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Old 09-13-07, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by thedon View Post
The worst road for me is a 3 lane 40 mph stretch and I sometimes go a mile out of my way to avoid it and take the MUP.
Cary (where my commute starts) is designated a bike-friendly community by the LAB. We have MUPs, but unfortunately, they don't go anywhere useful. They tend to wind around parks and small lakes.

Originally Posted by thedon View Post
How much did your handlebar cam cost? It would be interesting to see more people's commute.
I picked it up for under $80. It's an Oregon Scientific ATC2K. It runs on two AA's and saves the video to an SD card (which you have to buy separately). I use a 2GB card which can store about an hour of video. It can record audio too, but the mic doesn't really work on the bike. I have it attached to the left end of my drop bars so the camera angle is a but low.
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Old 09-13-07, 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by making View Post
How much trouble is it to download to your computer? My wife is sitting here on the couch and has no idea I just decided to spend money.
I already have an SD card reader since our digital camera also takes an SD card. Getting the video onto the computer is as simple as copying the (rather large) video file. Then I used Windows Movie Maker to speed it up and edit out the time spent waiting at lights. I then used VideoWave (Roxio) to add the captions, resize it to 320 x 240, and convert it to H.264 for uploading to YouTube. YouTube only lets you upload video clips that are less than 100 MB and less than 10 minutes.
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Old 09-13-07, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by unkchunk View Post
Just be real careful cutting through the hotel parking lot at the end though.
Yup. You can't really tell from the video, but I'm coasting with my hands on my brakes the whole time.
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Old 09-13-07, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Abbey View Post
The commute looks interesting but flat compared to around here.
It's definitely pretty flat. I think the total elevation change is less than a few hundred feet. I've done a couple of charity rides with bigger hills but even then it was only around a couple thousand feet (according to my Garmin).
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Old 09-13-07, 04:54 AM
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Originally Posted by bobcrotch View Post
People around here *HATE* bikers on the road. You get yelled at, crowded and all kinds of nasty any time you get in their way.
For the most part, drivers here are courteous and accommodating. I'm doing my best to take advantage of everyone's experience on this forum so that I can return the favor. I do occasionally encounter someone doing something idiotic, but it's usually not out of malice.
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Old 09-13-07, 04:57 AM
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Originally Posted by chephy View Post
The traffic is not that heavy except for the last stretch on the multilaner that seems to be fairly short. It does look like it may be stressful, but heck, if there is no other way to where you're going will you just stay home?
That last stretch of multi-laner is stressful mainly because of the number of places cars can (and do) turn right. I keep my hands on my brakes most of the way to avoid getting hooked. The traffic patterns have changed here since school started back up (College town) and they extended the beltway. I've started taking a different route home that I really like that has much lighter traffic. I'll post a video of that when I get a chance.
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Old 09-13-07, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by doraemonkey View Post
Hey pretty good! Man, there is a lots of traffic on you route. The multi-lane roads would give me the heeby-geebies, but you seem to navigate them well. Better than your last video at least. You wait your turn for the red lights, and filter on the left when available. That's a good thing.
My last video really was an anomaly. I don't know about you, but every once in a blue moon I have "one of those days." I'm posting this one, in part, because I wanted to illustrate that.

Originally Posted by doraemonkey View Post
What I am curious about now is, what are you wearing and what do you use to make yourself visible? Are you going to continue bike commuting throughout the winter? If you go to work at the same time, the sun will be much lower in the coming months. Get your self a good blinky if you don't have one. People here like the Planet Bike super flash. But if you have a bit of cash, get yourself a Dinotte set up. Drivers should give you a wide berth then...
I wear bright colored shirts and I use a blinky in anything less than full daylight. I also have a high-vis yellow wind-breaker for the cooler weather (I started commuting in March of this year). Once a week, I have a class down town that doesn't get out until 9 PM. For the ride home I use a headlight, blinkie and wear a reflective vest. I still had one car pass me unnecessarily closely (less than 1 foot of clearance) for no reason other than to avoid slowing down.
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Old 09-13-07, 06:13 AM
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Jim -- Very impressive. I live in North Raleigh and can't believe how different our commutes are living on the other sides of town. First, it is much hillier in N. Raleigh and my route only has a couple of flat stretches. Most of the time I am either climbing or descending, and I top 30 mph on a couple of downhills. Second, I feel much better about the safety of my route after watching your video. I don't think I would have the nerve to commute on your route. I follow the N. Raleigh marked city bike route, and it generally follows lightly traveled neighborhood streets with very little traffic. The few roads that have more traffic are very wide with plenty of room for cars to pass. I've got a lot more traffic lights, about 10 each way. My commute is about 10 miles going to work and 12 miles coming home.

I've got a few suggestions. First, have you checked to see if Cary or RTP has any mapped bike routes? That made a big difference for me in finding a safe route to work. There were a lot of streets that I wasn't aware of until I studied the Raleigh bike route mape. Second, if you haven't done so, I would study roads on Google pedmaps or similar program. Using Google maps, I was able to identify some improvements to the city bike route, finding safer and in some cases more direct routes. However, safety is always my first concern, and I will go out of my way and ride farther if it means safer roads. Third, can you adjust your working hours so you commute when traffic is lighter? We have flex time where I work, so I leave home at 6:30 am and leave work at 4:30 pm. It is amazing how much lighter the traffic is leaving at say 6:30 compared to 7 am, or 4:30 compared to 5 pm.

Here's a link to my Google pedmaps commute route:

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=953054
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Old 09-13-07, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
I've got a few suggestions. First, have you checked to see if Cary or RTP has any mapped bike routes? That made a big difference for me in finding a safe route to work. There were a lot of streets that I wasn't aware of until I studied the Raleigh bike route mape. Second, if you haven't done so, I would study roads on Google pedmaps or similar program. Using Google maps, I was able to identify some improvements to the city bike route, finding safer and in some cases more direct routes. However, safety is always my first concern, and I will go out of my way and ride farther if it means safer roads. Third, can you adjust your working hours so you commute when traffic is lighter? We have flex time where I work, so I leave home at 6:30 am and leave work at 4:30 pm. It is amazing how much lighter the traffic is leaving at say 6:30 compared to 7 am, or 4:30 compared to 5 pm.
tarwheel, I've looked into the bike routes we have in West Cary and, for the most part, they just don't go anywhere useful. They seem to be designed more for recreation than transportation. I'm experimenting with a new route home that has significantly less traffic for one portion but also leaves me on NC-55 for a longer stretch. Here's my original morning route (as seen in the video):

Morning commute route on Google Maps

With regard to departure times, I'm not constrained by work so much as I'm constrained by my wife's schedule. She gets up before 6 AM to work out and gets back at around 7:15 AM. We have a little time together with the kids in the morning and I'm usually out the door between 7:30 and 8:00 AM (sometimes later). That doesn't leave me much margin to get to work, shower, change and start my day. Traffic on my route also seems to vary quite a bit from day to day for no apparent reason. I will, however, continue to explore alternate routes.
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Old 09-13-07, 08:41 PM
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I've ridden on roads similar to your on weekends. However, I would only feel comfortable on roads under 40 mph. Is there a way you could avoid riding on that multi-lane highway? Are there subdivions you can right through instead of that highway.

Other than that road, the rest of the route looked fine.
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Old 09-13-07, 08:48 PM
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It's strange to look at some other's commute like that. Except for the traffic level – which I found quite manageable – your commute reminded me much more of a Sunday ride or a Summer tour in the St. Laurence valley.

Just for comparison, my current commute is 18 km each way (roughly 11 miles) and has 35-40 traffic lights plus a few stop signs.
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Old 09-13-07, 08:48 PM
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I feel very fortunate I don't have to commute on such busy roads. I ride 50% of my five mile commute on bike paths and the other 50% on residential type roads and boulevards. You are obviously a very experienced rider to have only had one problem with vehicles.
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