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Commuting tips from the Netherlands ;)

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Commuting tips from the Netherlands ;)

Old 07-29-08, 09:04 AM
  #176  
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Originally Posted by uke
I agree that climate does factor in--I live in KY, and I don't cycle during most of the day simply because the temperatures are typically in the nineties all summer with high humidity. I've also lived in cooler areas, where the winter chill makes any attempts by bike quite foreboding (I traveled on foot back then). However, not all cities are like that. If you rule out cities with extreme temperature fluctuations and those with extremely car-centric planning, there are still lots of areas around the country where people would be able to bike for at least 3 of the 4 seasons if they felt safe.
This is a problem politically though. How do you justify major changes in transportation infrastructure if most people revert back to driving cars once the bad weather comes?


Originally Posted by uke
I'm not against spandex, lycra, Cervelos, etc. If people wish to wear/use them, that's fine with me. I do think we can and should do more to emphasize that people don't need these to commute. Spend five minutes on this forum, and you'll see directions to LBSes and rants against box stores. But not everyone can afford even $500 bikes (nevermind thousand dollar ones), and not everyone is bike-competent enough to buy used. I'm just saying we should focus a bit more on just encouraging people to get on a bike--any bike--instead of steering people repeatedly toward a relatively small niche of outlets. I'd rather see someone on a Wal-mart/Target bike than not on any bike at all. I'm not so sure most people on BF would agree.
The people in Classic and Vintage often don't like LBSes because in their view most LBSes would rather sell them a new bike than service their old one.

I have mixed feelings about Target and Walmart bikes. Generally their sporting equipment (which is what I think they'd describe their bikes as) is low quality, yet I understand the sticker shock one would experience going into an LBS. After some bad experiences with kids bikes, I won't get another bike from either Target or Walmart. Being relatively bike savvy and patient means that buying used is a legit option for me.

Places like an REI or Sports Authority might be a decent middle ground, REI being preferred.


Originally Posted by uke
This is also true. I read a post by the owner of Copenhagen girls on bikes. One of the driving tenets behind the post was how little cycling had to do with the bicycle itself, but rather, with how it fit into the life of the rider. To wit, cyclists in CPH tend not to carry patch kits, pumps, spares, etc. If they flat, they roll the bikes in to LBSes and pick them up the following day. There's very little maintenance there, from his posts. However, one of the things he mentioned in passing (which he didn't seem to want to acknowledge) was that there were about 20 bike shops in his neighborhood. If the LBS density were that high here, I imagine many more of us would adopt the CPH model, instead of commuting like Rambo commandos with bug-out kits on our backs.
Here's the problem I have with the Copenhagen Girls on Bike site and more to the point, the heavy promotion of commuting in "regular clothes".

Just like any cycling magazine, the site is a glamorization of certain style of bikes and clothes. Reality isn't always as pretty. On my way to work today I saw a young woman cycling in a light dress, wearing heels, on a single speed cruiser. Could have been a picture right from the website... except that it was very humid, she was sweating heavily, and huffing and puffing while trying to drag that 40+ lb. bike up a hill.

Now Minneapolis in general isn't a hilly place and it certainly isn't always this warm in the mornings. Her commute may only be a mile for all I know. Overall that set up may work very well for her, but it's not hard to imagine that she dresses that way and rides that type of bike as much or more for aesthetic reasons rather than for practical reasons. I can tell you without much doubt that I was much more comfortable on that hill and probably for the majority of my commute than she was.

As I've said before I'll ride in regular clothes for short distances and/or very low intensity rides, but only for about half the year. The rest of year, what most people would wear to work is not well suited to being outside for much more time than it takes to walk from their car to their place of business. This is where people could benefit from knowing that there is clothing that would keep them comfortable on a bike in both cold and hot temperatures and which could extend their riding season significantly. It doesn't have to be cycling clothes, but it wouldn't be what they would usually wear to drive.
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Old 07-29-08, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by uke
Yup, you can take your bike on a train in Copenhagen.]

I took my bike on the local and regtional DB trains all the time in Germany on the weekends for a slight additional fee to my Schones Wochende Pass, good for all day travel. I don't believe it was permitted during weekday peak commuting hours.

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Old 07-29-08, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Pedaleur
Thanks. I also forgot about the really small baby carriages...



But _everything_ in Europe is expensive. In Odense, I have ten bike shops within 5km of my house, but the same quality bike here costs more than in the US (the 25% sales tax doesn't help). On the other hand, there's a huge used market, where you can get decent bikes in every price range.
The bike I bought in Germany in 2000 and have been commuting year round with for the last six years in Iowa from -4 to 100 degrees in alll weather conditions, cost 268 DM without (VAT) sales tax, about $135 at the time.The bike came with Sachs /SRAM seven speed coaster hub, front handbrakes, full fenders, lights, bell, rear rack, chainguard and kick stand; 622 x 47mm tires on aluminum rims. Hardly ever has required repairs of any kind. Try to find that type of ready to urban commute bike on the showroom floor anywhere in the US, for 4 or 5 times the price.
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Old 07-29-08, 01:44 PM
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This thread inspired me to run a plain-clothes errand this weekend. I had already logged 290 km of cyclocommuting for the week, so I chose a close-by destination 6 km from home. At the time of my departure at 8:30 AM it was sunny, 24 degrees, 80+% humidity and no wind. I wore jeans shorts, a short-sleeve shirt, a helmet and fingerless gloves. I always wear a helmet because there are no bike lanes within 25 km of my house in any direction and I was on a four lane road with 75-90 kph traffic about a meter away.

I had an overall moving average of 18 kph softpedalling as easily as I could stand, and coasting as much as possible. Perhaps it was a combination of the warm temps and relatively high humidity or else it was the 100 meters of climbing, but by the time I reached my destination, I was sweating. Not perspiring, sweating. Not to worry, I used the restroom to towel down and change into a clean shirt. The shirt was a loss as far as being presentable in public and I had a wet towel to throw back into the trunk bag. I had that "not so clean" feeling all during my stay at my destination, but by the time I got back home, also averaging 18 kph, my second shirt was a complete write-off and so two shirts, a small towel and the shorts when straight into the wash.

The bottom line for me is that I couldn't begin to ride in work clothes in this climate and terrain, even if my destination was only a handful of kilometers away. Granted, I do live in a hilly area. Heck, even the street I live on peaks out at a 15% gradient. Most of the climbs in my town are 5-8% for less than a kilometer with an elevation gain of up to 45 meters. Since my office is 34 km away, with 300+ meters of climbing, I'll be sticking with my "unsightly" lycra cycling clothing so I can average 27 kph and will be taking my shower and changing clothes after the ride, not before.
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Old 07-30-08, 03:37 AM
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I normally ride in a dry-weave t-shirt and bermudas but today I tried riding in jeans and a cotton shirt.

It wasn't so bad despite the afternoon heat (about 30C or 86F) and humidity.

It was a 12km (7.5 miles) ride and I tried not to push too hard, coasting as much as I could. The shirt was a little damp from sweat but not drenched. I wiped the sweat off with a towel and changed into a new t-shirt and was back to work.

I will try more long pants riding in future after this experiment.


Last edited by mrbrown; 07-30-08 at 05:19 AM.
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Old 07-30-08, 05:08 AM
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If I can walk in street clothes and not sweat, I can ride in street clothes and not sweat. I have to keep it down around 10 mph and I suppose 75W or something to do it some days, but that's my experience.

For much more than about 6 miles one way (10 klickies), I'll generally take a change of clothes, though.
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