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joejack951 12-15-04 07:55 PM

Convince me to commute
 
Here's my dilemma. I'm really beginning to loathe driving to work. I hate having to warm up a car in the morning, stop for gas on the way in or the way home, worry about being run off the road by oversized trucks driving on the back roads, etc. My commute is only 6.4 miles but on the way to work at least, it's mostly uphill (one short downhill and maybe 20% flat). There are sections of roadway that make up about 1.5 miles of the trip where the road is barely wide enough for two cars, no shoulder, mostly tree-lined, and while the speed limit is 25 mph, most morons on the road go 40-45mph. The only way I could avoid this would be to add a few miles to the trip and take heavily trafficced main roads in where the drivers aren't any safer. At work, we have no showers that I can use nor do we have any designated spots for bicycles.

Combine all these facts and I'm a little hesistant to start biking to work even though I would really enjoy doing so as it would compliment my other riding and give me an excuse to buy some cool touring gear (rack and panniers) for carrying my clothes/other stuff to and from work. This whole week I've been trying to convince myself that the no shower situation is ok b/c I'm in good enough shape to not need to break a sweat on the way in riding at a casual pace. I proved this tonight by doing some Christmas shopping by bike (granted it's 26 degrees F outside). So the only fear I still have is those very narrow sections of road (which also happen to be the steepest uphill sections).

Should I just say screw the cars and climb those hills as slow as I need to in the middle of the lane so that they don't try to pass me (all curves on the road are blind and the small population of bikers in the area has lead to drivers doing stupid things like passing around those curves)? Would I be safer taking the longer route with wider roads and shoulders but with much faster traffic (anywhere from 50-60 mph)?

Thanks for any advice.

late 12-15-04 08:12 PM

How about we persuade you to move?

joejack951 12-15-04 08:15 PM


Originally Posted by late
How about we persuade you to move?

That would be a lot harder than just telling me that I'm a wimp for caring about slowing down cars. For starters, moving across the border into Pennsylvania to be closer to work would triple my real estate taxes.

late 12-15-04 08:23 PM

Your commute would scare the crap outta me.
I live in Maine to avoid situations like that; of course the job sucks.
Mostly I was feeling you out, I certainly don't think you're a wimp.
I like commuting a lot, although I don't when it freezes.
But I don't think I'd commute if I was in your neck of the woods.

super-douper 12-15-04 08:37 PM

it doesn't sound like you're too concerned with the logistics of commuting. Like the cold, the bike, the gear you'll need. I've don't 10miles in the morning and just take a baby-wipe shower once I get to the office and I'm fine.

There's always places to keep your bike, if not in your office, locked to a fence, rail or something.

The only thing I see holding you back is the route. You said that you could take another route where drivers are the same but the road is wider. You've got 2 routes to choose from. One is longer, but you sound like you're in good enough shape for it.

Get some lights (especially blinkies) so the cars can see you and go for it. You'll never know if you like it till you try.

joejack951 12-15-04 08:40 PM


Originally Posted by late
Your commute would scare the crap outta me.
I live in Maine to avoid situations like that; of course the job sucks.
Mostly I was feeling you out, I certainly don't think you're a wimp.
I like commuting a lot, although I don't when it freezes.
But I don't think I'd commute if I was in your neck of the woods.

Some days I think I'd be better off moving to a much less populated area to avoid the hassles I deal with. But then I remember how I can walk to the grocery store, bike to almost everyone of my relatives houses, have an airport nearby, etc. For now I'm staying where I am but hoping to be one less car on the road during rush hour.

Paul L. 12-15-04 08:42 PM

MY commute used to be 20 miles one way in the phoenix summer heat. If I showered before I left and had fresh clothes there I did just fine with a bit of a cooldown. It is now 25 miles but I have cut down to going one way a day. Most of my commute is on busy city streets, some of them two lane with little to no shoulder depending on the route I take.

joejack951 12-15-04 08:47 PM


Originally Posted by super-douper
it doesn't sound like you're too concerned with the logistics of commuting. Like the cold, the bike, the gear you'll need. I've don't 10miles in the morning and just take a baby-wipe shower once I get to the office and I'm fine.

There's always places to keep your bike, if not in your office, locked to a fence, rail or something.

The only thing I see holding you back is the route. You said that you could take another route where drivers are the same but the road is wider. You've got 2 routes to choose from. One is longer, but you sound like you're in good enough shape for it.

Get some lights (especially blinkies) so the cars can see you and go for it. You'll never know if you like it till you try.

You are right; I won't know what to think of it untul I actually try it. I have a set of lights I keep on my training bike but I think I'd just buy another set to put on my mountain bike that I plan on using for the commute. They don't need to be as bright since I'll be going half the speed as I do on the road bike.

Sounds like I'm going to order some slicks for the mountain bike and give this a whirl.

late 12-15-04 09:00 PM

Hi,
get lit up like a Xmas tree. The Cateye LD100 http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/lighting/index.html
has been generating some very favorable comments here.
Personally, I'd pick something with Illuminite on it.
I'd also get a 20 watt light. At a minimum. Not so much to see the road but to make your position clear if it's dark.
Be careful out there. Have you ever heard of Forrester's book Effective Cycling?

PWRDbyTRD 12-15-04 09:02 PM

I started riding to work simply for my health...and it's cheaper....Plus I get to work and I feel so much better. Normally I'd drag into work after sitting in a car for 20 minutes....I don't know how you wouldn't want to. As long as it's not POURING rain or snow, suit up and ride man. As far as havng a place for your bike...make one...i stuck mine in the cubicle next to me til they found a spot :)

vrkelley 12-15-04 09:19 PM

Give it a go on the wider longer route on a good weather day. Maybe you can take clean clothes and some handi-wipes or baby-wipes the day before. And if you like it, figure out the logistics to go when it's best for you.

bsyptak 12-15-04 09:42 PM

Is it possible you could change your work schedule by going in early and leaving early to avoid the rush hours? I generally work 7-4 and there are a lot less people out on the road between 6-7 and 4-5. Some people also find that adding one of those orange fluorescent flags to the back/side of their bike keeps cars away. Something like this (but not pink):

http://www.brauns.com/gc/gc_item.exe?K=ARESAFFLA1

kb0tnv 12-15-04 10:13 PM

Try riding it on a weekend (like Saturday) with a support vehicle behind you.

Peace,

Dirtbike 12-15-04 10:43 PM

may i convince you to move out here to california :D
i "commute" to school and there isnt a road without a deisignated bike path. on wednesdays (today) i have work downtown and i ride there. i love california :)

PaulH 12-16-04 07:25 AM

I'd have to join the chorus suggesting a test run on a weekend, with no time pressure. After the ride, ask yourself whether you liked riding or driving better. It is better to perform the experiment than to sit around pondering it.

Paul

Daily Commute 12-16-04 07:43 AM

I think it's safer to take a road with two narrow lanes than more wider lanes. That's because the narrow lanes force you to take the lane, which forces cars to go to the next lane over to pass. Cars often try to pass too closely when they share a lane with you.

As to where to park your bike, pick the most person you think would be most sympathetic to letting you take your bike inside, whether that's building maintenance or your management. Maintenance may let you stash your bike in a basement or a work closet. Management may let you take it to your office or some other unused place.

And before investing a lot of cash in new stuff, just start doing it with what you have to see if it sticks. Maybe you could drive to the office on the weekend to stash a week's worth of clothing. That might permit you to avoid buying the rack and panniers for a while.

Finally, depending on how neat you need to look at work and how stinky you get, you can live without the shower.

Rowan 12-16-04 07:44 AM


Originally Posted by joejack951
Should I just say screw the cars and climb those hills as slow as I need to in the middle of the lane so that they don't try to pass me (all curves on the road are blind and the small population of bikers in the area has lead to drivers doing stupid things like passing around those curves)? Would I be safer taking the longer route with wider roads and shoulders but with much faster traffic (anywhere from 50-60 mph)?

Why is it some riders think they have to take responsibility for the poor judgment of motor vehicle drivers who insist on overtaking on blind curves because those riders have taken the lane to protect themselves? You don't have to be a pr!ck about taking the lane everywhere, but as I said to a class of riders tonight, you take the lane to protect *your* welfare; the motorists have to deal with their own stupidity.

And if I was going to be really Machiavellian about it (which I couldn't possibly be), I'm looking forward to the day when someone says a car collided head-on with another while illegally overtaking a cyclist who is riding... legally

As to the other question, ride it and see. 50-60mph traffic is not so bad if you can "tune out" (maybe even use earbuds to listen to music!!!!) and you have, as you suggest a reasonable shoulder.

kf5nd 12-16-04 07:57 AM

I would do it. But, I would make sure I was massively blinkered, massively reflectorized, wearing flourescent clothing. And put a blinker up high, on your helmet.



Originally Posted by joejack951
There are sections of roadway that make up about 1.5 miles of the trip where the road is barely wide enough for two cars, no shoulder, mostly tree-lined, and while the speed limit is 25 mph, most morons on the road go 40-45mph.


jerrryhazard 12-16-04 08:15 AM

You've almost exactly described my commute to work. Mine is 6.75, but the two lane I have to take is a 45mph road. I also have an alternate route, but it involves a longer climb that I usually don't like to take in the morning.

Lock my bike to a lightpost or tree out front, change in a bathroom at work, and use the wet wipe method of cleansing, it works. Maybe there's a store room or area inside you can bring your bike? As others said, give a test run on a weekend morning to see how you fare.

As far as the traffic is concerned, as long as you are lit up well, it will generally go around you pretty well. I did my commute for 4 months before I got lights, and noticed a remarkable difference when I just added one blinkie (now I have two plus a 10 halogen up front). Cars really do steer around me now - I think because they actually can see me. The tree lined, two lane road still makes me nervous, but I leave early enought that I beat most of the traffic. On the way home, I take the alternate route, which is longer, but downhill ;).

You owe it to yourself to at least give a try. You feel so much better when you get to work, and it's fun to answer the question "dude, where's your car?" :)

billh 12-16-04 10:02 AM

Tough one. I hate narrow lane climbs with no shoulders. That would be dicey. I would be inclined to go a couple extra miles in the heavy traffic but presumably wider roads for sharing side by side. Then on the way home, take the shorter route with the downhill on the narrow lanes. Or are the narrow lanes have an uphill section in both directions? No good answer. My experience is that the more I ride a section of road, my perception of it changes. After about 9 years of commuting I've branched out to roads I would have never considerd in my first year.

balto charlie 12-16-04 10:50 AM


Originally Posted by Rowan
And if I was going to be really Machiavellian about it (which I couldn't possibly be), I'm looking forward to the day when someone says a car collided head-on with another while illegally overtaking a cyclist who is riding... legally

What's gonna happen before a head-on; the passing car will return to it's lane and the biker is fuc***.

As for your dilema on which way to ride. You have to decide if a large road with a lot of traffic is preferable to small narrow 2 laner. I think wider is better even if a little longer and busier especially if you have a shoulder. I have a similar commute and don't like the long uphill on a 2 laner, BUT TAKE THE LANE!!! Charlie

Nightshade 12-16-04 11:15 AM


Originally Posted by joejack951
Here's my dilemma. I'm really beginning to loathe driving to work. I hate having to warm up a car in the morning, stop for gas on the way in or the way home, worry about being run off the road by oversized trucks driving on the back roads, etc. My commute is only 6.4 miles but on the way to work at least, it's mostly uphill (one short downhill and maybe 20% flat). There are sections of roadway that make up about 1.5 miles of the trip where the road is barely wide enough for two cars, no shoulder, mostly tree-lined, and while the speed limit is 25 mph, most morons on the road go 40-45mph. The only way I could avoid this would be to add a few miles to the trip and take heavily trafficced main roads in where the drivers aren't any safer. At work, we have no showers that I can use nor do we have any designated spots for bicycles.

Combine all these facts and I'm a little hesistant to start biking to work even though I would really enjoy doing so as it would compliment my other riding and give me an excuse to buy some cool touring gear (rack and panniers) for carrying my clothes/other stuff to and from work. This whole week I've been trying to convince myself that the no shower situation is ok b/c I'm in good enough shape to not need to break a sweat on the way in riding at a casual pace. I proved this tonight by doing some Christmas shopping by bike (granted it's 26 degrees F outside). So the only fear I still have is those very narrow sections of road (which also happen to be the steepest uphill sections).

Should I just say screw the cars and climb those hills as slow as I need to in the middle of the lane so that they don't try to pass me (all curves on the road are blind and the small population of bikers in the area has lead to drivers doing stupid things like passing around those curves)? Would I be safer taking the longer route with wider roads and shoulders but with much faster traffic (anywhere from 50-60 mph)?

Thanks for any advice.

From this post and your other post I don't think bike
commuting is the real issue here. It sounds more like you
really deep down don't like where you live or, maybe, work.

That said, might it be better to LIVE your life as you really
want to.......without all the hassels you now endure??

Remember, money is only the means to an end. Make it an end
of your own choosing. The quality of life always improves
when the pace slows down.

joejack951 12-16-04 12:15 PM


Originally Posted by Tightwad
From this post and your other post I don't think bike
commuting is the real issue here. It sounds more like you
really deep down don't like where you live or, maybe, work.

That said, might it be better to LIVE your life as you really
want to.......without all the hassels you now endure??

Remember, money is only the means to an end. Make it an end
of your own choosing. The quality of life always improves
when the pace slows down.

Thanks for all of the input, especially the suggestion to try both routes out on the weekend and see how I like it. Why I never thought of that...I don't know but I'm glad there are people out there who are happy to give suggestions.

In regards to how much I like where I live, the good points outweigh the bad. As I said, the good points are that I'm very close to work, have a great job, close to Philadelphia where my girlfriend lives yet still in Delaware where I can afford a nice home, within easy biking distance of all my relatives, and close to stores that have everything I could possibly need. Convenience does lead to a more fast paced situation but at this time in my life, I'll take convenience and slow down some time later.

With that said, I'm not really sure why I care so much about this commute. I ride on mostly narrow roads without shoulders and plenty of blind turns anyway, although this particular road is a bit worse than any of them. I think it's just a matter of doing it and getting over that hump then I'll be fine with it. Sitting around just anticipating it doesn't help. I need to just do it as many of you have said.

Helmet-Head 12-16-04 05:24 PM

Ask Santa for Effective Cycling by John Forester. This book addresses all your concerns, and many you have not yet had. Some relevant chapter headings include:

"Basic Principles of Traffic Cycling"
"The Why and Wherefore of Traffic Law"
"Accidents"
"Where to Ride on the Roadway"
"Avoiding Straight-Road Hazards"
"Changing Lanes in Traffic"
"Riding the INtersections"
"Riding at Night"
"Riding in the Rain"
"Riding ni Cold Weather"
"Commuting and Utility Cycling"

It's a must-read for any cyclist or potential cyclist.

Serge


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