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Looking to go car light

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Looking to go car light

Old 04-16-17, 09:57 PM
  #1  
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Looking to go car light

I'm a 44 year old divorced male, no kids, in an apartment with a small dog. I do have a car, and work one full time job and have another part time job. Currently living in Michigan, so I get all of the seasons and then some. Public transportation here is not ideal for my work hours so I will have to be self reliant when it comes to that. Already a fairly experienced bike commuter but will sometimes take the car depending on the weather (severe storms or blistering cold). Really trying to make a more conscious effort to ride places instead of drive. Went grocery shopping earlier and managed to fit everything in my giant bag - luckily the store is only a mile or so away because it was heavy.

For bikes, I am set. Fat bike for the snow/ice/poor conditions of winter. CX bike with fenders for rain/poor weather. Carbon road bike for faster group rides/commuting. Fixed gear track bike for commuting on any dry day. A trailer for any of these bikes is not an option due to storage in my apartment or outside. Thinking that a rack and panniers for the CX bike will be in the near future after hauling my groceries home. Don't really need to haul any big stuff that I can see, especially living in an apartment. Have everything I need for the apartment as I have been here coming up on 5 years. Bike clothing, I am pretty set especially for the colder weather.

So what am I missing? What else do I need to really make a good run at going car light? What does it take to not just grab the keys and say screw it, and take the car?
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Old 04-16-17, 10:25 PM
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Bike security? That was my #1 issue when I lived car-free in a major city. My bike was also stolen in 10mins with a Kryptonite U-lock when I ran inside for an errand.
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Old 04-16-17, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
What does it take to not just grab the keys and say screw it, and take the car?
Back when I was car-light I would simply consider my options: either I could enjoy a bike ride and not have to pay for gas, or I could endure the drudgery of sitting behind a steering wheel and spend more money...

Specific to your situation, it sounds to me like you haven't reached the point yet where going places by bike is easy - when you reach for the bike you hesitate because it involves some discomfort or extra effort. The first issue is the simplest to address: once you have good equipment (panniers or otherwise) that allow you to run errands and carry necessary items without discomfort, that will be one less thing to discourage you.

But perhaps more important is the willpower/habit aspect: riding places is tougher at first because you have to make a special effort to plan your route, schedule, equipment, etc. The good news is that once you get used to riding places, you'll be able to grab the bike and go much more easily because you'll instinctively know how long it takes to cover a given distance, what to wear, and what to expect en route. But when starting out, there's no real alternative to making a commitment to yourself that the bike will be your primary mode of travel, maybe at least three days per week to start, and as you gain experience you'll grow into being car-light and using the car only when it's actually necessary, and not because you're not comfortable riding instead.
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Old 04-17-17, 12:24 AM
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I've found that being carlight is harder than being carfree. The temptation to use the car is always there.

For me the hardest part of riding was the first 30 seconds. Once underway, I have never regretted choosing the bike over the car. But the first few seconds is crucial. We have to realize how ingrained the automobile habit has become in modern culture.

Along with making the bike easier to use, as @lasauge talked about, make the car less convenient. Put the keys away somewhere in your apartment, and get in the habit of going out the door without carrying your keys. If possible, park the car where it isn't even in sight as you walk toward the bike. Above all, keep your goals in mind. Continually remind yourself of your own personal reasons for riding instead of driving, whether that is for exercise, saving money, or just having more fun.
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Old 04-17-17, 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
A trailer for any of these bikes is not an option due to storage in my apartment or outside. Thinking that a rack and panniers for the CX bike will be in the near future after hauling my groceries home. Don't really need to haul any big stuff that I can see, especially living in an apartment. Have everything I need for the apartment as I have been here coming up on 5 years. Bike clothing, I am pretty set especially for the colder weather.
I like my trailers. Most of the kid's trailers will fold & pack. So, it is worth considering. But a rack an panniers is good. Or baskets, heaven forbid

Originally Posted by reppans View Post
Bike security? That was my #1 issue when I lived car-free in a major city. My bike was also stolen in 10mins with a Kryptonite U-lock when I ran inside for an errand.
Ouch. I've acquired a couple of Kryptonite NY locks. Hard to think of anything "better". But I've heard at least some U-Locks can be frozen and broken. I've had lights taken, but so far nobody has messed with my trailer or the rest of the bike.

Originally Posted by Roody View Post
I've found that being carlight is harder than being carfree. The temptation to use the car is always there.

For me the hardest part of riding was the first 30 seconds. Once underway, I have never regretted choosing the bike over the car. But the first few seconds is crucial. We have to realize how ingrained the automobile habit has become in modern culture.

Along with making the bike easier to use, as @lasauge talked about, make the car less convenient. Put the keys away somewhere in your apartment, and get in the habit of going out the door without carrying your keys. If possible, park the car where it isn't even in sight as you walk toward the bike. Above all, keep your goals in mind. Continually remind yourself of your own personal reasons for riding instead of driving, whether that is for exercise, saving money, or just having more fun.
An option might be to be seasonally car-free.

Say car-light December to March, and then drop the insurance for April through November (no driving without insurance). Or you could discover that you just don't need the car.
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Old 04-17-17, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by lasauge View Post

Specific to your situation, it sounds to me like you haven't reached the point yet where going places by bike is easy - when you reach for the bike you hesitate because it involves some discomfort or extra effort. The first issue is the simplest to address: once you have good equipment (panniers or otherwise) that allow you to run errands and carry necessary items without discomfort, that will be one less thing to discourage you.
Riding to most places is fairly easy so far. The city itself is somewhat bike friendly, until you get out to where I live. Higher speed roads, minimal bike lanes, so the sidewalk becomes your route and personally I try to avoid that at all costs. If I head east which is most of the time, there is an MUP that leads to bike lanes and a bike friendlier area. It is when I head south that it becomes less and less friendly.

But perhaps more important is the willpower/habit aspect: riding places is tougher at first because you have to make a special effort to plan your route, schedule, equipment, etc. The good news is that once you get used to riding places, you'll be able to grab the bike and go much more easily because you'll instinctively know how long it takes to cover a given distance, what to wear, and what to expect en route. But when starting out, there's no real alternative to making a commitment to yourself that the bike will be your primary mode of travel, maybe at least three days per week to start, and as you gain experience you'll grow into being car-light and using the car only when it's actually necessary, and not because you're not comfortable riding instead.
As mentioned, I am a pretty seasoned commuter so this part of it I have covered. I work second shift so I can leave earlier and stop at places like the bank, etc. at my leisure. The grocery store here is a 24 hour operation so on my commutes home I often will stop and pick up stuff as needed to avoid a major haul like I did yesterday.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
An option might be to be seasonally car-free.

Say car-light December to March, and then drop the insurance for April through November (no driving without insurance). Or you could discover that you just don't need the car.
Unfortunately the car is not paid off, so I don't think that I can legally drop insurance on it. If I could store it, I would consider it, but that becomes an added cost. There has been some consideration into selling it and getting a beater pick up truck or something that I really won't want to drive.
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Old 04-17-17, 01:32 PM
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I vote for the beater truck or van. Once you're car light your fuel efficiency is not a big deal so go for something that really can haul something when you need it. I tell construction guys they too can bike commute. They give me the are-you-crazy look and then I say, keep your truck with it's materials and tools at the jobsite and bike commute to it. So far no one has taken me up on the suggestion.
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Old 04-17-17, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
So what am I missing? What else do I need to really make a good run at going car light?
You've already done it. Car lite means drive less. Your bike commuting already does that.

What does it take to not just grab the keys and say screw it, and take the car?
Your values. But if you don't occasionally do that then get rid of the car and go car free!

What makes you ride your bike to work instead of say "screw it, and take the car"?

If you want to be more car lite then treat shopping like going to work, and use the bicycle. Pretty simple.

Enable yourself to haul stuff - I have a cargo trailer that works well for me.

Last edited by Walter S; 04-17-17 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 04-17-17, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
You've already done it. Car lite means drive less. Your bike commuting already does that.
Agree. Sounds like he's already there.

My secret is to consider a bike ride an opportunity to do something nice for myself. Keep being nice to yourself and you won't have to worry about car-free, car-light or whatever..
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Old 04-18-17, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
I'm a 44 yearold divorced male, no kids, in an apartment with a small dog. I do have a car,and work one full time job and have another part time job. Currently living in Michigan, so I get all of the seasons and thensome. Public transportation here is not ideal for my work hours so I will have to be self reliant when it comes to that…

So what am I missing? What else do Ineed to really make a good run at going car light? What does it take to not just grab the keys and say screw it, and takethe car?
As a Michigan native (East Side of Detroit, and some time in Ann Arbor), I’d be curious where you commute, if I may ask.


FYI, I had started a thread, Describe Your Commute,” with about 100 replies that might suggest other elements of cycle-commuting. For my two cents, how are the routes and distances? Consider if they might get old quickly…heavy traffic, crummy roads, boring scenery, etc. Also what are your alternatives? A valuable asset of my commute is that I have convenient Commuter Rail that takes fully-assembled bikes over my minimal 14 mile route. Good luck.

Not to be a Captain Bringdown, but,
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Frankly, I have posted that I would not be inclined to encourage, unless by example (nor discourage) someone to cycle-commute [or cycle in general], but if they so chose, I would freely and gladly give any advice...I would not want the recriminations of a personal endorsement if something bad happened….

FWIW, I’m not advocatin’ against, just sayin’
Originally Posted by gerv View Post
…My secret is to consider a bike ride an opportunity to do something nice for myself. Keep being nice to yourself and you won't have to worry about car-free,car-light or whatever..
Nicely said, @gerv.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 04-18-17 at 08:17 AM.
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Old 04-18-17, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
As a Michigan native (East Side of Detroit, and some time in Ann Arbor), Iíd be curious where you commute, if I may ask.

FYI, I had started a thread, ďDescribe Your Commute with about 100 replies that might suggest other elements of cycle-commuting. For my two cents, how are the routes and distances? Consider if they might get old quicklyÖheavy traffic, crummy roads, boring scenery, etc. Also what are your alternatives? A valuable asset of my commute is that I have convenient Commuter Rail that takes fully-assembled bikes over my minimal 14 mile route. Good luck.

Not to be a Captain Bringdown, but,Nicely said, @gerv.
I am in the Lansing area. Public transportation to work would be possible, however, the bus stops running 30 minutes before my shift is over, so going home would fall on me. I will not put my situation out on someone else and ask for a ride. Don't ever want to be in that situation unless absolutely necessary. I have a co-worker that lives in my apartment complex and she works the same shift as me, but I will not be asking her for a ride. Honestly, my commute is not what I am worried about, it is everything else. Doctor's appointments, daily things like errands, grocery store runs, and of course, inclement weather is at the top of my list.
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Old 04-18-17, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Mauriceloridans View Post
I vote for the beater truck or van. Once you're car light your fuel efficiency is not a big deal so go for something that really can haul something when you need it. I tell construction guys they too can bike commute. They give me the are-you-crazy look and then I say, keep your truck with it's materials and tools at the jobsite and bike commute to it. So far no one has taken me up on the suggestion.
That's more or less how I operate. I've got an older pickup that sits around 95% of the time, but when I need it, I really need it. It's been long paid for and I only insure it for pleasure use for part of the year.

Because it gets driven so rarely there's very little in the way of maintenance expense and a tank of gas can last me for months. I suppose I could get rid of it and rent one whenever I need to instead, but this is working for me and not costing me much.

I've become more and more "car light" over time as I gradually started doing more and more things by bike. It started with my commute. As time went on I started adding more trips by bike: before long I was doing almost everything by bike or transit and now it doesn't even occur to me to drive for most trips.

And the odd time I do drive, I'm astounded by how much of an exercise in frustration it can be. I find myself wishing I were on my bike instead of sitting in bumper to bumper traffic or trying to find a scarce parking spot. Ugh! That cures me of any desire to drive in a hurry!
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Old 04-18-17, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
I

So what am I missing? What else do I need to really make a good run at going car light? What does it take to not just grab the keys and say screw it, and take the car?
Living in a place where driving and parking is a hassle and riding a bike is the easy way out works for me. I gather your home is not such a place. Buying the most convenient bike might help. My essentials are chainguard, dyno light, tires that rarely flat, fenders, and a saddle that won't wear my suit pants. Preparing for a ride should be easier and quicker than preparing for a drive, I think. Making the bike more convenient is likely easier than making the car less convenient and makes for a better life whether you choose the bike or the car for a trip.
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Old 04-18-17, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
So what am I missing? What else do I need to really make a good run at going car light? What does it take to not just grab the keys and say screw it, and take the car?
When I first started bike commuting I began to keep a log right on the desktop of my office computer, of the number of days I rode, and I still do. I find it motivates me, as I always hope to match or exceed the previous year's record. So maybe something like that would help you.
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Old 04-18-17, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
... I will not put my situation out on someone else and ask for a ride. Don't ever want to be in that situation unless absolutely necessary. I have a co-worker that lives in my apartment complex and she works the same shift as me, but I will not be asking her for a ride.

Honestly, my commute is not what I am worried about, it is everything else. Doctor's appointments, daily things like errands, grocery store runs, and of course, inclement weather is at the top of my list.
Thanks for your reply. In my 40 so years of Living Car Light (the car is mainly for my wife) my cardinal rule was not to ask for a ride out of someoneís way, and never borrow a co-workerís car. Colleagues are pretty generous to offer rides, and even offer their cars. Cabs and car rentals are pretty accessible to me though.

Iím one of those types who never carries a bike lock, because I never leave my bike out of a secure place or under my eye. So I donít incorporate activities that would make me leave my bike, e.g. social activities, extended shopping.etc. Most of those activities are accessible here in Boston and environs easily without a car, but Iím amenable to driving.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
ÖIím car-lite too, mostly due to family activities, but Iím the most amenable to car-free. My major motivation to ride is not sociopolitical, or environmental, but physical.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Ö A personal damper for me to ride my bike to an outing is that I donít bring a lock anywhere, since I donít leave my bike out of my control. i.e. unattended only at home and my secure parking at workÖ.
Not to brag about Boston, but to illustrate the possibilities of car free living.
Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
Living in a place [Washington DC] where driving and parking is a hassle and riding a bike is the easy way out works for me. I gather your home is not such a place.
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Old 04-25-17, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Iím one of those types who never carries a bike lock, because I never leave my bike out of a secure place or under my eye. So I donít incorporate activities that would make me leave my bike, e.g. social activities, extended shopping.etc. Most of those activities are accessible here in Boston and environs easily without a car, but Iím amenable to driving. Not to brag about Boston, but to illustrate the possibilities of car free living.
Why do you choose not to use a bike lock? That seems rather self-limiting.
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Old 04-25-17, 10:39 AM
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I've barely driven this week, and last week as well. Severe thunderstorm warning last week at the time I was to leave for work so I opted for the car. Been to the grocery store a few times to do minor shopping on the trip home from work. Last night I rode home from work and scoped out the situation at a doctor's office for an appointment I had today. Had to check to see if they had available bike parking which they did. Rode to that appointment then home, lunch, and then ride to work. Probably won't have the car out until later this week as more severe weather heads my way. Will try to dodge that if I can on the bike.

As for mileage tracking, I am on Strava, not to compete, but to track everything easily. It all syncs up using my Garmin Edge 810 and my iPhone + Garmin Connect app. That is my main motivator right now, and so far it is working. Also dropped a few inches off the waistline which is always good.
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Old 04-25-17, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
ÖIím one of those types who never carries a bike lock, because I never leave my bike out of a secure place or under my eye. So I donít incorporate activities that would make me leave my bike, e.g. social activities, extended shopping, etc.

Most of those activities are accessible here in Boston and environs easily without a car, but Iím amenable to driving. Not to brag about Boston, but to illustrate the possibilities of car free living.
Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Why do you choose not to use a bike lock? That seems rather self-limiting
Au contraire. As almost all bike lock threads admit, no lock is fool-proof. So if I were to lock one of my bikes, I would be hounded by that nagging doubt, limiting my experience of the event that required me to leave my bike unattended.


My bikes are perfectly suited to me, so besides the expense of buying a new bike, the hassle of just shopping for a new one with my limited time to shop would be intolerable. Also the hassle of carrying a lock as impenetrable as possible is a further limitation.

As I noted, itís easy enough, and much more comfortable to do any extended activity here in my Boston environs bike-free as well as car-free, especially where driving would be a hassle.


Then thereís even these limitations to riding a bike to an extended event:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Ö on Saturday nights, my wife and I get dressed to the nines and go dining and dancing in a suburb about 10 miles from home. We drive, but even that venue is accessible by subway.We're certainly not dressed for a bike ride.
Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
ÖThe more I think about it, the more I realize that clothing and hair issues are the main obstacles to doing anything car-free. Cars have basically been refined to serve as climate-controlled,wind-free holding chambers to keep people fresh during transport between destinations.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 04-25-17 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 04-29-17, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
I've found that being carlight is harder than being carfree. The temptation to use the car is always there.

For me the hardest part of riding was the first 30 seconds. Once underway, I have never regretted choosing the bike over the car. But the first few seconds is crucial. We have to realize how ingrained the automobile habit has become in modern culture.
I would hate having the driving option for this reason. I would perform extensive mental calculations before every trip trying to decide if I could/should combine all my driving errands into a single trip, or whether I'm wasting time at a particular moment of day or not by not taking the car. It's so much simpler, mentally, to just plan my day around bike-speed travel times, or walking.

Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
Riding to most places is fairly easy so far. The city itself is somewhat bike friendly, until you get out to where I live. Higher speed roads, minimal bike lanes, so the sidewalk becomes your route and personally I try to avoid that at all costs.
How long is the sidewalk section of your commute? I used to dread and avoid sidewalk riding because it is so much bumpier than the smooth asphalt strip of a bike lane/shoulder or paved path, but now I have realized I can just slow down to a comfortable 'walking' pace and I treat sidewalk riding like a rest that's nevertheless faster than walking. If I lose a few minutes riding on sidewalks, those are minutes I don't spend reading hostile forum posts and bad news stories, TV, or something else that would benefit me less than some fresh air while coasting down a sidewalk.
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Old 04-29-17, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
How long is the sidewalk section of your commute? I used to dread and avoid sidewalk riding because it is so much bumpier than the smooth asphalt strip of a bike lane/shoulder or paved path, but now I have realized I can just slow down to a comfortable 'walking' pace and I treat sidewalk riding like a rest that's nevertheless faster than walking. If I lose a few minutes riding on sidewalks, those are minutes I don't spend reading hostile forum posts and bad news stories, TV, or something else that would benefit me less than some fresh air while coasting down a sidewalk.
0.0 miles of my commute is on a sidewalk. Personal beliefs see the sidewalk reserved for foot traffic and small children who are learning to ride a bike. Luckily I can modify my commute to avoid sidewalks, and I know that others out there are not as fortunate.
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Old 04-30-17, 07:29 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
0.0 miles of my commute is on a sidewalk. Personal beliefs see the sidewalk reserved for foot traffic and small children who are learning to ride a bike. Luckily I can modify my commute to avoid sidewalks, and I know that others out there are not as fortunate.
Oh, I thought you said, "the sidewalk becomes your route." I also prefer bike lanes/paths to sidewalks, but the great thing about riding a bike is that it can be both. You can effortlessly coast over a sidewalk at @3-5mph around pedestrians and then speed up to @@10mph on stretches where no one is walking. If you're only going a few blocks, or you forgot to bring lights and it's getting dark, or you don't feel like crossing the street to ride on the right, sidewalks can be helpful. Just always prioritize pedestrian right-of-way and comfort in how you ride.
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Old 04-30-17, 08:18 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by TenSpeedV2 View Post
0.0 miles of my commute is on a sidewalk. Personal beliefs see the sidewalk reserved for foot traffic and small children who are learning to ride a bike.

My personal belief is to do whatever it takes to make a bike commute as safe as possible. If I need to ride on the sidewalk for a little bit to avoid a stretch of dangerous arterial roads with fast traffic, I'll do that...Here in my suburbs there are a lot of sidewalks which have very little pedestrian traffic and it's no different then riding along an MUP...I much prefer to ride on the road, because it's faster and smoother but there are situations where sometimes I'll ride on the sidewalk.
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Old 04-30-17, 08:45 AM
  #23  
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Here is my commute for anyone that has 36 minutes to kill and is extremely bored. This was shot last year. The commute varies but for the most part, this is usually the route I take. I did do an offshoot into the college campus here to show the cycling infrastructure for someone else. Commute is normally about 7.8 miles or so.

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Old 04-30-17, 09:23 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
my personal belief is to do whatever it takes to make a bike commute as safe as possible. If i need to ride on the sidewalk for a little bit to avoid a stretch of dangerous arterial roads with fast traffic, i'll do that...here in my suburbs there are a lot of sidewalks which have very little pedestrian traffic and it's no different then riding along an mup...i much prefer to ride on the road, because it's faster and smoother but there are situations where sometimes i'll ride on the sidewalk.
+1
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Old 04-30-17, 09:51 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Here in my suburbs there are a lot of sidewalks which have very little pedestrian traffic and it's no different then riding along an MUP.
Just for the record, there is a difference, in that it is illegal to ride on a sidewalk but legal to ride on a MUP. However I am not a stickler for rigid adherence to the law where it doesn't make sense to do it, and would ride on the sidewalk for safety if I had to as well.
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