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Bicycle commuting is a bad goal ?

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Bicycle commuting is a bad goal ?

Old 02-14-15, 08:00 AM
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CrankyOne
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Bicycle commuting is a bad goal ?

The thread 'Why don't they sell these here' and all of the comments about why people can't do this or that because their commute is too long or too hilly or too whatever. For most people these should be by car. Even most Dutch, who nearly all ride bikes for short trips don't ride them for their commute. Only about 40% commute by bike yet nearly 100% use a bike for shorter daily errands.

Is Bicycle Commuting A Bad Goal? | streets.mn

I ride my bike for more trips than I drive my car. But for the 10 mile hillier trip to downtown I drive more often than ride, especially in winter. Most of my trips are fairly short and very flat — to brunch or dinner, to the hardware store, or to take my wife's daily return Zappo's box to the UPS store. These short trips are 90% by bike. Trips to downtown are just the opposite, about 90% car, 10% bike.

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Old 02-14-15, 10:13 AM
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No doubt, bike commuting isn't for most people whose commutes are long or hilly or whatever. But I once read that MOST TRIPS in this country are three miles or less. THREE MILES?! Come on, do we really have to do most of them by car?
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Old 02-14-15, 10:28 AM
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I guess I'm the opposite. My daily commute is 20 miles which I ride but short trips to the store 3km away I generally drive. I associate riding with exercise and am not used to riding without getting sweaty and needing a shower. I ride about 15,000km/yr and drive maybe a few thousand.
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Old 02-14-15, 10:43 AM
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I live at the bottom of a steep hill, almost at sea level. Work is also at sea level, and there are no hills on my commute. If my job were in the other direction... I'd rather walk.
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Old 02-14-15, 01:17 PM
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This is why the E-Assist bike exists, the best of both worlds IMO... One too many hills, 5 miles too far, who cares, not me. I my E-Assist bike.

EDIT; Or time & sweat, those may actually be the two things that really put the E-Assist over the top. Twice as fast getting to where you want to go with half the sweat but still a work out at whatever level you want...

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Old 02-14-15, 01:49 PM
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I kind of lost patience for the author's writing style, so I didn't read the whole article. However, while I'd love to see more people commuting to work or using bicycles for short leisure/shopping trips, the point of the article is one that should, at least, be considered. That is, if I understood the thesis correctly...

Essentially, she is suggesting that getting more people to commute to work by bicycle in the US is an unrealistic goal and that getting more people to bike to the store or to school seems more feasible, right? She might have a point. My commute is only about 6 miles round-trip, and I can't swear that I'd bike to work if it was even double that. But I might balance the carbon footprint of driving to work by making sure I ride a bicycle to go get a haircut down the block.

To encourage more bicycling for ANY purpose, I think we first have to get over the marketing BS that tells us we can't ride a bike without special shoes and clothing and that every bike needs a holder for a cell phone that's equipped with an app to tell us how fast we are riding, how to get to the Starbuck's three blocks away, and how fast we have to ride home to burn the calories in the chocolate scone we ate.
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Old 02-14-15, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
To encourage more bicycling for ANY purpose, I think we first have to get over the marketing BS that tells us we can't ride a bike without special shoes and clothing and that every bike needs a holder for a cell phone that's equipped with an app to tell us how fast we are riding, how to get to the Starbuck's three blocks away, and how fast we have to ride home to burn the calories in the chocolate scone we ate.
Yes.
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Old 02-14-15, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
This is why the E-Assist bike exists, the best od both worlds IMO... One too many hills, 5 miles too far, who cares, not me. I my E-Assist bike.
These are really growing in The Netherlands, especially for older folk. I think for a lot of them they make the difference between being able to ride somewhere and not. As you said, the same applies for people with a commute that's just a bit too long or a bit too hilly. Or maybe even a lot too long and a lot too hilly.
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Old 02-14-15, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
To encourage more bicycling for ANY purpose, I think we first have to get over the marketing BS that tells us we can't ride a bike without special shoes and clothing and that every bike needs a holder for a cell phone that's equipped with an app to tell us how fast we are riding, how to get to the Starbuck's three blocks away, and how fast we have to ride home to burn the calories in the chocolate scone we ate.
Yes !!, very well said.
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Old 02-14-15, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
To encourage more bicycling for ANY purpose, I think we first have to get over the marketing BS that tells us we can't ride a bike without special shoes and clothing and that every bike needs a holder for a cell phone that's equipped with an app to tell us how fast we are riding, how to get to the Starbuck's three blocks away, and how fast we have to ride home to burn the calories in the chocolate scone we ate.
I've never seen any marketing like this at all. People that ride bikes want information about this sort of topic (without the hyperbole) and you see that on forums like this and bike shops stock the stuff that sells to cyclists. But as far as marketing goes, I think I've seen more people wearing street clothes in marketing aimed towards potential cyclists.

Central Pennsylvania is a perfect place for an ebike, but right now the bike shops can't give them away. One of the bike shops has begun a big marketing push, I don't know how its going though.
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Old 02-14-15, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I've never seen any marketing like this at all. People that ride bikes want information about this sort of topic (without the hyperbole) and you see that on forums like this and bike shops stock the stuff that sells to cyclists. But as far as marketing goes, I think I've seen more people wearing street clothes in marketing aimed towards potential cyclists.
Agreed. I'd like to see ANY official marketing that says "You MUST wear lycra, use clipless pedals, ride a road bike, etc, if you're going to be a cyclist." Most of that attitude comes from other cyclists, and even then it's overstated.

When people say "I would ride a bike, but I don't want to wear Spandex", it's really just a big fat excuse. They'll find some other excuse if you point out that lots of people ride in regular clothes.

But like Papa Tom, I couldn't get through the article. The writer's tone alternated between whiny and vaguely-constructive, and I guess I don't have much patience for people who want to rehash objections to things without countering them with strategies anymore. The title sucked the most -- I should get points for looking past that!
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Old 02-14-15, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Central Pennsylvania is a perfect place for an ebike, but right now the bike shops can't give them away. One of the bike shops has begun a big marketing push, I don't know how its going though.
Could be because E-bikes are like mopeds, most people normally don't even pedal them they just use the throttle, E-Assist bikes are like a regular bike with different levels of assist, you do actually still have to pedal them to go anywhere, but you can pick whatever level of assist you want to use, or you can use it without the assist just like a regular bike...
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Old 02-14-15, 03:33 PM
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In my world, that's a distinction without a difference. It's not like people are sitting around thinking that they would ride a bike if only they had to pedal in addition to pushing a throttle. My guess is that there needs to be a certain number of people riding these kinds of bikes before it even enters into anyone's consciousness. At this point, people don't even think about riding their bike to work, ebike, e-assist, or plain old human powered.
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Old 02-14-15, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
Twice as fast getting to where you want to go with half the sweat but still a work out at whatever level you want...
Twice as fast might be a bit of a stretch but I would be happy if I could shave 10-15 min off my 60-70 min commute. Most of the e-Bikes I've seen are not very efficient however, and would probably waste a lot of power due to a non-aero riding position plus added weight, higher rolling resistance etc. One of those Copenhagen wheels looks promising if they can ever make them work and have a way to by-pass the built-in speed limits. I'd be curious to try a road bike with an electric motor if it had normal drop bars.

I pass a guy on the bridge most mornings and he just coasts up the bridge without pedaling. He doesn't look much like a biker, more like someone who lost their license and was forced onto a bike.
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Old 02-14-15, 03:36 PM
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Let me put it this way. Commuting is something you do on most days and if you decide to do it by bike it is easy to make it a habit. Making a habit out of running errands on your bike is harder to do if there is only the occasional errand to run within biking distance. Lots of people run their errands going to and from work.

Another problem is that although suburbs are getting better about this than they used to be, zoning is often such that residential and retail areas are separated. There's not always that many destinations within easy cycling distance anyway. Speed limits are higher and the infrastructure isn't there to make it all that appealing to bike, other than recreationally.

As for the premise of the article, while I wouldn't say that commuting by bike is a bad goal, I think it is an unrealistic one for a good number of people. If the real goal is to get people to drive less or use less fossil fuels then other alternatives to cycling should be explored (and they are). And sure, people should be encouraged to walk or bike more for short distance trips whether it's to work or not.

I also have to say that I'm a little bothered by the tone of the article in places:

There’s also a perception problem. Have you noticed what the average long-distance bicycle commuter looks like? Good luck convincing your neighbors that what they want to do is invest thousands of dollars in special clothing, spend time every morning putting those things on, and then, GO OUT IN PUBLIC.
Really? Thousands of dollars?

As I've said before, what the Dutch have done is enviable but I think bike commuting under harsher conditions and for longer distances is a worthy goal for a reasonable number of people even if it's not the majority. To accomplish that will mean taking some different approaches from the Dutch.

FWIW even they are trying to encourage people to ride longer distances by investing in "Super Highways" for bikes.
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Old 02-14-15, 03:49 PM
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In my view, cycling doesn't need an ultimate goal. I do think that the conditions for bike commuting are a decent measure of how bike-friendly a city is in general, but there could be other measures as well. In my locale, the bike paths and lanes used by commuters are also used by recreational riders during the weekend, families with kids, etc.

I'm happy to encourage small, incremental steps. Don't have a bike? Get one. Your bike has fallen into disrepair? Get it working. Got a short trip to the post office or library? Take the bike.

Don't forget that there are also things car drivers can do, to reduce their car-bon footprint. Combine trips. Drive a smaller car. Shop less. Try the bus. Just being more conscious of the efficient use of transportation will gradually get more people onto bikes.
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Old 02-14-15, 03:52 PM
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If one strips away the hyperbolic commentary, the author and others make a valid point. The average LBS caters to the cycling enthusiast whos wants and needs are different from somebody just looking for basic, practical bicycle transportation, and there is the tendency of enthusiasts to dismiss utility cyclists and bikes as second class.
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Old 02-14-15, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Twice as fast might be a bit of a stretch but I would be happy if I could shave 10-15 min off my 60-70 min commute. Most of the e-Bikes I've seen are not very efficient however, and would probably waste a lot of power due to a non-aero riding position plus added weight, higher rolling resistance etc. One of those Copenhagen wheels looks promising if they can ever make them work and have a way to by-pass the built-in speed limits. I'd be curious to try a road bike with an electric motor if it had normal drop bars.

I pass a guy on the bridge most mornings and he just coasts up the bridge without pedaling. He doesn't look much like a biker, more like someone who lost their license and was forced onto a bike.
OK, I did some math, for me it works out like this, depending on how many hills I go on and how big they are...

mixed 40/60 level/hills 18kms/Hr average pedaling, 30kms/Hr average E-Assist = 66% faster E-Assist... and a lot less sweating.
mixed 60/40 level/hills 21kms/Hr average pedaling, 32kmsHr average E-Assist = 52% faster E-Assist... and a lot less sweating.

Last edited by 350htrr; 02-14-15 at 05:01 PM. Reason: re do math...
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Old 02-14-15, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 350htrr View Post
This is why the E-Assist bike exists, the best of both worlds IMO... One too many hills, 5 miles too far, who cares, not me. I my E-Assist bike.

EDIT; Or time & sweat, those may actually be the two things that really put the E-Assist over the top. Twice as fast getting to where you want to go with half the sweat but still a work out at whatever level you want...
I think there is something to this. My spouse loves to bike for recreational purposes on weekends, but he hates hills and can't stand the idea of arriving at work all sweaty. I'm seriously toying with the idea of an e-bike for him. I think he would love the boost to get up hills and the fact that he could get to work in a reasonable amount of time without working very hard at all.

Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Twice as fast might be a bit of a stretch but I would be happy if I could shave 10-15 min off my 60-70 min commute. Most of the e-Bikes I've seen are not very efficient however, and would probably waste a lot of power due to a non-aero riding position plus added weight, higher rolling resistance etc. One of those Copenhagen wheels looks promising if they can ever make them work and have a way to by-pass the built-in speed limits. I'd be curious to try a road bike with an electric motor if it had normal drop bars.
I'm curious if you've had a chance to look at something like the bion-x system, which -- I think -- can be put on just about any bike. It does add a good bit of weight, but I doubt there's any way around that with a bike that needs a motor and battery pack.
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Old 02-14-15, 04:44 PM
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I can't see myself ever wanting an e-bike, but I think the concept is fantastic. I hope they revolutionize transit. And they might. There are lots of delivery people driving them here in Manhattan. They are so quiet. They go slightly faster than pedal bikes.

When we lived in NJ, my wife taught music lessons to the child of a man who had an e-assist bakfiets. I tried it. I stepped on the pedals, and the computer realized I needed help, so it kicked in, but only for a second. Then I was pedaling. This guy rode all around Maplewood, which is a very hilly town, and he took his kids in it everywhere. It was so cute and fun.
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Old 02-14-15, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by kickstart View Post
If one strips away the hyperbolic commentary, the author and others make a valid point. The average LBS caters to the cycling enthusiast whos wants and needs are different from somebody just looking for basic, practical bicycle transportation, and there is the tendency of enthusiasts to dismiss utility cyclists and bikes as second class.
True, but I can understand the viewpoint of the LBS owner and employees. For one thing they're likely to be bike enthusiasts themselves and, more importantly, they see the enthusiast come in every week and he frequently ends up walking out with one or more of the latest $$$ gadgets while the utility rider shows up once every 6 months or so to buy a tube, patch kit, or chain.

But it's not clear to me whom the original article is addressing. It seems to me that the bike advocacy groups are generally pushing to make bicycling appear safer and more convenient for whatever purpose. I just don't see the distinction between pushing for more bike commuting vs. more grocery shopping. If there are good bicycling routes linking residences, schools, churches, businesses, etc. then some people will use those routes for commuting while others will use them a variety of other purposes so I don't see the dichotomy described in the original article.
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Old 02-14-15, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
True, but I can understand the viewpoint of the LBS owner and employees. For one thing they're likely to be bike enthusiasts themselves and, more importantly, they see the enthusiast come in every week and he frequently ends up walking out with one or more of the latest $$$ gadgets while the utility rider shows up once every 6 months or so to buy a tube, patch kit, or chain.
A commuter cyclist or utility cyclist is under no obligation towards any LBS to waste their money on pricey unnecessary gadgets. Any good bike shop owner should provide good customer service no matter what a cyclists buys or what type of bike they riding. A cyclist wearing jeans and a hoody and riding a
$500 single speed bicycle is no less important then a spandex jockey riding a $4000 carbon machine.
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Old 02-14-15, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
A commuter cyclist or utility cyclist is under no obligation towards any LBS to waste their money on pricey unnecessary gadgets. Any good bike shop owner should provide good customer service no matter what a cyclists buys or what type of bike they riding. A cyclist wearing jeans and a hoody and riding a
$500 single speed bicycle is no less important then a spandex jockey riding a $4000 carbon machine.
There are several bike shops in my locale, all quite successful, but I doubt that any of them could stay in business selling mostly $500 bikes.
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Old 02-14-15, 06:48 PM
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I do understand that a business needs to focus on its core customers, but that also limits growth.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think what the author is saying is for a large number of people commuting to work is too much of a commitment in time and energy, as such it might get more people take the first step by providing infrastructure connecting residential areas with their local retailers, schools, and other destinations.
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Old 02-14-15, 07:34 PM
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So perhaps we need to relax our attitudes about dress codes at the office. I am able to commute to work by bicycle these days because I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers every day. When I was working as an investigator for Lloyd's of London, I had to wear a suit to work every day, no questions asked, period, end-of-sentence. Even if my cases were close enough to home to ride to, there's no way that would have been acceptable in the insurance industry.

It's fairly obvious that many people choose not to commute because they need to look (and smell) up to a certain standard at work. I can totally understand that, but imagine if that standard did not exist?

Remember, the bicycle was the reason slacks became acceptable clothing for woman in the late 1800's.
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