1 2 3
Nick Comstock
Nick Comstock MegaDork
11/6/18 9:29 p.m.

I got a wild hair up my ass a couple months ago to build a bicycle to commute to work with. I needed something to challenge myself with and liked the idea of all of the benefits that go along with cycling. Plus who doesn't need a little more exorcise in their life right? Thankfully at this time I'm living and working where this is feasible. It's 8 miles +/- depending on the route I take. Most of it I can do on neighborhood roads so I'm not holding up traffic on the main roads for the most part. 

So I found a bike and set about making it a commuter which you can read about  here. After a couple shakedown runs I made some changes to the bike and I was ready to jump in. Ironically the day I finished the bicycle is the very day that my motorcycle broke. Nothing like trial by fire.

So I've been at it for a couple weeks now and I have some take away's. 

1.   The biggest struggle for me is not the physical aspect. It's having to get up early. I've never been much of an early riser. I'm usually a night owl. The ride in has averaged around 45 min. Compared to 15 for driving in. Plus I want to give myself a little cushion for anything unexpected so I have to be up and out the door by 5:30 in the morning. On the plus side I'm definitely going to bed much earlier than I was before and usually have no problems going to sleep.

2.  Traffic has not been too much of an issue. Especially on the way in. Very few cars on the road at that time of the morning. It is not my intent or desire to hold up traffic. I have planned my route to do my best to stay off of the main thoroughfares when possible*. The majority of the commute is what I would describe as pleasant. However there is no cycling infrastructure at all so I have to be on the road. The city has added a couple multi use paths, in the middle of nowhere that lead to nowhere miles from where I'm coming from or need to be. There is one bike lane that runs beside the Walmart that goes nowhere except from the front of the Walmart to the rear of the Walmart. And one bike lane on a road that dead ends behind the hospital so it goes nowhere.  Texas does not have any laws such as the 3' passing rule and the like but 99% of the people have given me plenty of room when passing. I try to be as accommodating as possible. So far so good. But I feel much more likely to be killed while cycling than I ever did while motorcycling. 

3.  It's not as hard physically as I thought it would be.  Once I get my old beat up knees moving it's really not that bad. There are a couple grades that are little tough but the majority of it is pretty flat. I'm not trying to set any speed records or anything but I'm not just cruising along either. I'm not exhausted when I get to work even though I push harder than I do when on the way home. At the end of the day I am a little tired when I get home. But I consider that a good thing. It feels like I actually did something. 

 

In summary I really enjoy it. I like how it makes the world feel like a bigger place. Like it did back when I was a kid. I like the fact that I'm not spending money on gas just to get back and forth from work. If I ever get the motorcycle working again I can use that saved money to go exploring on the weekends. In fact on the days that I had my wife drop me off and pick me up from work I missed it. I think I'm hooked on it. The only major downside, if you could call it that, is that there is zero cycling culture here. The only people that you see on bikes are the homeless and the professional beggars that use them to get to their panhandling spots. So there is a sort of social stigma in my town associated with cycling. Occasionally you'll see a group of roadies out on the weekend, but never during the week. 

 

 

*  I live on the south side of a highway that bisects the town. There are only three bridges that cross the highway. Of the three only two are viable options. 5th street is a four lane divided road with no shoulder and no sidewalk and a 40 mph speed limit. I take this road in the morning, virtually no traffic. Once over the bridge and passed the college it's all neighborhoods. However coming home after the bridge I'm stuck on this road for about a mile before I can exit. And there is a lot more traffic. And they fly a couple inches off of each others bumper. And I can only manage about 23 mph. So it's not ideal.

The other choice is 31st street and it's chaotic in a vehicle let alone on a bicycle. The hospital, mall, grocery store, apartments, Walmart, Sams club, Lowes, Access roads to 190 and I-35 and all the shopping centers live at this intersection. I don't have the stones to ride in the traffic lanes through here. But I have taken the sidewalk. Even though I'm not too at ease with all the cross streets and entryways I have to cross on the sidewalk I feel much less stressed than when holding traffic up for a mile on 5th. The downside is it adds another 10-15 minutes to the ride home.  But other than that I'm pretty much alone in the neighborhoods. 

 

Armitage
Armitage Dork
11/6/18 9:43 p.m.

I recently started biking to work as well, mostly because I was fed up with sitting in traffic. I'm fortunate that both my home and office are near a dedicated bike trail. I installed a 350W electric conversion on my road bike to make the journey less... sweaty. It's really so much less stressful riding the bike and not having to deal with all the lights and the idiots doing stupid or aggressive things first thing every morning.

Cotton
Cotton PowerDork
11/6/18 9:53 p.m.

Have you thought about adding electric assist,  like a Bafang mid drive kit?  It could help on the grades,  but more importantly could give you an extra boost on the way home when you need it in the heavier traffic areas.

dropstep
dropstep UltraDork
11/6/18 9:58 p.m.

The stigma is why I don't ride too work often. Usually if you see someone on a bike near were I work they lost there license or car and are headed a mile past my employer for drug counseling. I love riding, my trips only 2.3 miles in a small town so a lot less traffic issues. I also ride a retrofitted 1962 single speed.

Nick Comstock
Nick Comstock MegaDork
11/6/18 10:06 p.m.

In reply to Cotton :

Oh yeah I've thought about it. Won't happen unless I fall into a bunch of money but I've thought about it.

mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/6/18 10:52 p.m.

I wish I could ride.. while the state highways that go into and out of Atlantic City are open to pedestrians and bicycles, the 70+ mph car traffic nixes that for me. Ironically the only road onto the island that has slow speed limits is off-limits to bicycles.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/7/18 7:52 a.m.

It is kind of addictive. I've got to get back to doing it, I miss it. My commute is about the same as yours, and in a similar town. If you ride smart it's safer than most people would think. Sometimes you have to do illegal things because they are the safer choice, but you always have to analyze your choices and options. Patience becomes a survival skill.

 

It's funny that dropstep mentions the stigma associated with it. Here, too, riding to work usually means you can't get a license. I drove to work for 2 years and spent a ton of time trying to figure out how to do it by bike since I'm an avid cyclist. Finally one morning I was sitting stuck at a light when a guy meanders through the traffic on a beat up girls bike right in front of me, seat slammed down low, no thought about traffic flow or legal riding. I realized I'd seen him every day for weeks doing the same thing. I suddenly realized that if HE could survive, there's no reason I couldn't. So I started doing it. 

I choose to take inspiration from all those guys riding crap bikes to bad jobs just to make ends meet, every day no matter what. They're more of a real cyclist to me than the guys who pull out their $10,000 carbon bike to ride on the weekend as long as the weather's nice. Because of those guys I call my cycling-related side hustle "Pedaltrash." Because that's all we are. 

Robbie
Robbie GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
11/7/18 8:12 a.m.

Riding to work is like a time machine.

You're getting 45 minutes of workout in only 30 minutes of extra time. 2x per day.

That's awesome.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
11/7/18 8:20 a.m.

I'd like to be able to ride to work, even though it's only ~5.5 miles from the house, there are basically no sidewalks or bike paths between here and there.

There is no way I'm riding on the actual street with the way people drive here.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/7/18 8:30 a.m.
z31maniac said:

I'd like to be able to ride to work, even though it's only ~5.5 miles from the house, there are basically no sidewalks or bike paths between here and there.

There is no way I'm riding on the actual street with the way people drive here.

Biking on sidewalks isn't really safer.

My wife biked to work for 3-4 years (I can't remember) and the only time she was hit was on a sidewalk.  Motorists don't expect to see fast moving things on sidewalks, but they do on streets.

So be careful.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
11/7/18 8:39 a.m.

I wish I could bike to work but there is absolutely no way I would ride on the roads I would have to ride on to get to work and it would be a pretty long bike ride.

(not) WilD (Matt)
(not) WilD (Matt) Dork
11/7/18 8:54 a.m.

I too wish I could ride to work, but the road infrastructure and traffic in this part of suburban Detroit discourage it.   The only direct route between my home and office would need to include quite a bit of road that is five lanes (two each direction with a center turn) with a 45mph speed limit.  HEAVY, speeding traffic during business hours.  Driveways for business EVERYWHERE.  It's basically a cycling worst case scenario.  If my office were the other direction from my house I could probably do it as the next burb south has lower speed limits and sharrows on the main roads, but no luck my direction.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
11/7/18 9:39 a.m.

^Yeah, the big part of my route is a divided (by a grass median) 7 lane highway (3 each way, center turn lane), and then our building is right next to two large hospitals. 

The other way to come is all surface streets, almost all of which have no bike paths or sidewalks. Just not feasible sadly.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UltraDork
11/7/18 10:31 a.m.

I really need to get my lazy ass back on my bike more often, but it's just too easy to say, "I'm running too late/it's too cold/wet/windy" and drive the QX4 instead. I also REALLY miss being able to bike in and swim laps before work like I used to... I always got to work feeling great on those days. But I'm on the wrong side of town now and there's no place I've found really convenient for that.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
11/7/18 11:26 a.m.

If In reply to Nick Comstock :

Please please please have lights!! I can’t tell you how many bicycles I have come up on in the early morning and not seen them until the absolute last second.  I’ll give you as wide a berth as humanly possible but only if I see you. 

If you want to live get some mirrors so you can at least have a chance of seeing vehicles come up behind you.  Be ready to dive for the ditch and sacrifice your bike.  It can be replaced you will become a sad statistic. 

You may have a right to use the road but so do big vehicles. And we use every inch of the road.  Doubt me? Ride in a school bus picking up kids when we meet garbage trucks or delivery trucks. Often there is an inch or less between our mirrors and we meet at a collision speed of 60 mph ( 2 @30 mph going in opposite directions ) 

In the average year I will see dozens of bike riders wearing dark clothing with no lights, maybe a tiny reflector and often in a driving lane rather than on a safer shoulder. 

Look, 30,-40,000 pounds of bus isn’t nearly as agile as your bike.  If you hit sand, loose grass from a recent mowing, rocks, glass heck dozens of things you’re going to fall.  

Fall by yourself and all you’ll get is bruises and skinned up. Maybe broken bones. ( hopefully you have headgear )  

Fall in front of a bus/ truck/ etc.  and you won’t live. 

Now the driver will be devastated, likely sick and may quit.  But you’ll be dead.  

You have every right to the road but you also are vulnerable.  I’ll take all the care possible but I have a schedule to keep and many distractions.  Not just you on your bike but children both on and off the bus.Pets, people, walking running, low hanging tree branches, ( I’m 12 foot tall, Coach buses are taller ) 

If the bus gets past you you’re still not safe. I have a 13 foot tail swing  to swat you with. Transit buses have less and most delivery vehicles and other trucks have less. But I might be turning and that tail will swing over the curb and swat you right off your bike. 

Rules of the road. Bicycle riders don’t obey them. You run lights, run my stop arm, pass on the curb side, and in general act like your immortal. 

I’m so busy  at the end of the night my neck hurts from swiveling it trying to see everything constantly. Please help me out and act predictably. Signal your turns, stops, intentions. Look up at me and confirm I see you and am prepared to work with you so nothing bad happens

 

 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
11/7/18 11:34 a.m.
mad_machine said:

I wish I could ride.. while the state highways that go into and out of Atlantic City are open to pedestrians and bicycles, the 70+ mph car traffic nixes that for me. Ironically the only road onto the island that has slow speed limits is off-limits to bicycles.

Around here all those old railroad lines got turned into bike paths etc. check around, you might have a bike path to work even if you do have to drive out of your way to it.  

Brian
Brian MegaDork
11/7/18 11:51 a.m.

Good luck. I would if it was feasible for myself. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
11/7/18 11:58 a.m.

I need to do this more.  In the summer my commute via car is ~15 min, and biking takes 37 min (~10 miles).  In other seasons (when school is in session), via car can take up to 25 mins and biking still only takes 37 mins.

 

The #1 deterrent for me is obligations before, after, or during work which require a car.  Have to pick up my son from school, have to go to the doctor, travel for work, etc.  When 90%+ of your days are impractical to bike you don't really put a lot of effort into the other 10%

Toebra
Toebra Dork
11/7/18 12:32 p.m.
Robbie said:

Riding to work is like a time machine.

You're getting 45 minutes of workout in only 30 minutes of extra time. 2x per day.

That's awesome.

I have a couple of dogs that give me about 2 hours of workout in 45 minutes though.  Maybe if I could hitch them to a wagon or something, but then I don't get the workout.  First world problems, amirite

Nick Comstock
Nick Comstock MegaDork
11/7/18 1:52 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I understand that your frustrations are real and that you're probably projecting a little. However I do not pass on the right. I do not ignore traffic control devices. I sit in line at red lights and if the intersection is busy I'll walk up into the grass and wait for it to clear. I have three rear lights, two on the bike and one on my helmet, two head lights and I wear a reflective vest at night and in inclement weather. I'm sorry you have to deal with people that do not follow the rules of the road but I am not one of them.

dropstep
dropstep UltraDork
11/7/18 1:55 p.m.

I had to go into work today to cover lunch and decided it was nice enough too take the bicycle. Sadly winter is coming and I'm not that hardcore.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UltraDork
11/7/18 2:15 p.m.

In reply to Nick Comstock :

I behave quite similarly, though I don't have quite as many lights on my bike/gear it's still quite visible (though honestly it seems that if someone is going to overlook you on the bike nothing I can carry/wear is going to change that...). It annoys the hell out of me when I see other bicyclists riding the wrong way up 1-way streets (we have a lot along my commute route into downtown), blowing through lights, and generally being stupid. I follow all traffic signals/signs, sit in line at intersections, and don't try and pass stopped schoolbusses with their signs out.

It's not 100% accurate, but I tend to see a lot more people riding dirt bikes that are clearly not the right size for them in normal street clothes being shiny happy people on bikes than I do those like me in biking gear with bikes clearly set up for commuting. Also the people on bikes totally ignoring traffic laws also tend to be the ones not wearing helmets...

wheelsmithy
wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/7/18 2:36 p.m.

In my 20s, I lived in Durango CO, a town of huge cycling culture. I lived 5 miles outside town, 1500 feet up, so the morning ride was easy, the ride home tough. I still attribute my decent health to that time. Commuting on bicycle, 50+ mile mountain rides on weekends, 20ish mile mountain rides a couple of days a week, and always that commute.

In many ways, those were the happiest days of my life. I'm getting set up to be able to commute to work once again. 1.5 miles, pretty steep, but work is downhill from home. The health benefits are immense. Godspeed.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
11/7/18 3:27 p.m.
Nick Comstock said:

In reply to frenchyd :

I understand that your frustrations are real and that you're probably projecting a little. However I do not pass on the right. I do not ignore traffic control devices. I sit in line at red lights and if the intersection is busy I'll walk up into the grass and wait for it to clear. I have three rear lights, two on the bike and one on my helmet, two head lights and I wear a reflective vest at night and in inclement weather. I'm sorry you have to deal with people that do not follow the rules of the road but I am not one of them.

Nick, Thank you for that. Yes you are absolutely right many people do use common sense. I’m happy to give them as much clearance as possible and if my stopping is safer I do that for them.  

We all can use the road safely if we use common sense and be considerate of others. 

But just once I’d like one of those no lights,  no reflectors, riding in the middle of the road with headphones on  people to drive the bus and come around the curve on someone like them. 

Slam the brakes on, swerve wildly, barely in control while the kids in my bus are screaming in terror. 

Only to have the rider flip me off for disturbing his peaceful morning ride.  All the while not knowing the heart pounding, bile producing, feeling of fear and rage. 

It won’t happen, they can’t earn the required licenses, or learn how to handle a 77 passenger bus. 

But I sure wish they could.  

frenchyd
frenchyd UltraDork
11/7/18 3:35 p.m.
(not) WilD (Matt) said:

I too wish I could ride to work, but the road infrastructure and traffic in this part of suburban Detroit discourage it.   The only direct route between my home and office would need to include quite a bit of road that is five lanes (two each direction with a center turn) with a 45mph speed limit.  HEAVY, speeding traffic during business hours.  Driveways for business EVERYWHERE.  It's basically a cycling worst case scenario.  If my office were the other direction from my house I could probably do it as the next burb south has lower speed limits and sharrows on the main roads, but no luck my direction.

They do here! At least around the university of Minnesota Campus.  Play dodge-em on the bus route, at night during the State fair when there is a transit or coach bus filled with 80-100 passengers every 30 seconds or less at night wearing dark clothes with no lights and no reflectors.  

Speed limit is only 40 but it’s around blind curves sometimes on bridges  with barely 2 feet to spare.  

1 2 3

This topic is locked. No further posts are being accepted.

Our Preferred Partners
swa8VdxJ1ao25L23A8CA5CdWT3S50qJUPl1ydcluFVPLDKSVWUYKCsQzybmMFVuu