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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Moline, IL
    Posts
    24

    Lightbulb may be commuting soon

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    I dont live that far from my job. I think its about 4 miles to my work. Here is my fear though its a big hill to go down and a big hill to go back up. I am also afraid because I have to cross a busy intersection. I am thinking for the benefit of me and my family with gas prices going higher and higher. What would you reccomend for a first time commuter to get over those fears the hills and the traffic! Yikes that is what freaks me the most the traffic.
    Taking it one day at a time

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Bulgaria
    Posts
    271
    You will get used to it, I'm sure. At first I rode really slowly in town but now I move with the speed of cars where possible, e.g. 18-20 miles per hour.
    Take all safety equipment: helmet, lights and reflective bands/clothes.
    Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    326
    Is there anyone else at your work who would buddy commute with you the first few times? Does the intersection have a signal or is it one of those, "you are on your own" types?

    Maybe bike it some nice weekend day first just to actually feel the route on a bike. This does not, usually, give you a sense of the traffic, though.

    Welcome to bike commuting!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    '89 Bridgestone Radac Dura-Ace | Specialized Ruby, 143
    '92 Bridgestone MB-1 | Specialized Ruby, 143
    '92 Bridgestone MB-1.2 (balloon tire bike) | Specialized Ruby, 143
    '93 Bridgestone MB-5 (my SUB*) | Specialized Lithia, 143


    My blog: Portlandia Pedaler (at Blogger)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    So Cal.
    Posts
    508
    Same here, traffic. My work is about 5 miles in a straight line down the busiest street in the west San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles County), and passes under a major freeway on/off ramp. My first commute was scary, and quite a learning experience.

    I do ride a road bike, and choose less traveled streets when possible, as this part of the Valley has few dedicated bike lanes, and always has lots of impatient traffic.

    But I have never rode in the dark before starting commuting two years ago.

    So I decided to not wade in the kiddy pool, but jump in the deep end as I know how to swim already and just have fear. I bought a front and rear light, attached them to my MTB, and set off right after the New Years break, into the darkness.

    First lesson I learned the hard way; buy enough light. I can't see squat with my AA front light. A little education, and now I have a 600 lumen rechargable front light. Lost the rear light, and the next, when the mount broke. They ate AAs like water anyway, so now I have a rechargable rear blinkie that is as bright as a car brake light and mounted with a stout bracket. Bought a dedicated commuter, added reflective tape, mounted the lights.

    Guess that's been my comfort. Be as visible as possible. The lights and reflective tape are your best defense. That is a part of what I used to get over the fear.

    I also analyzed the route, especially where it crosses under the freeway as that is a very busy spot. Decided to 'take the lane', the far right lane, as there is no room for a bike on the right side. I stop at the light, before the freeway, in the right lane. Anyone coming up behind me can choose the left lane, or get behind and to the right of me to get on the freeway on ramp. I have a blinking 150 lumin light on my helmet, that I use to make myself visible to the cars on the offramp that can make a right right into me if I am not careful. From there, I actually have enough room to stay between the parked cars and the right lane, about 4 to 5 feet wide, but that first major intesection followed by the freeway needed some thought to come up with the safest way to cross.

    So that would be my second suggestion, right after analyzing what you need to be as visible as possible and make the road visible; look at the route, identify the tricky spots and the safest way to handle them.

    You might want to ride the route on your day off, just to see how it goes. You can abort and go home if it is too tricky or outside your comfort zone (I did this too).

    Take a look at what you need to take to work. Do you want to lug food, a change of clothes? I take the car on Monday, and take a week's worth of food so that's one less thing to lug. I can then use a backpack for clothing (tried the rack and panniers, but did not like the extra weight on an already heavy bike).

    I know others who have commuted for far longer than I will be along shortly with great suggestions. I got the nerve to do it from others here.
    Tzvia- rollin' slow...
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    Novara E.T.A commuter/mens Bontrager Inform RL

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    2,051
    Quote Originally Posted by Anelia View Post
    You will get used to it, I'm sure. At first I rode really slowly in town but now I move with the speed of cars where possible, e.g. 18-20 miles per hour.
    Whoa, that's speedy! I've been riding for 7 years and I can't go that fast on my commuter unless I have a good hill on my side. I carry a lot of stuff with me, and my commuter is designed for safety & cargo, not speed. Or maybe I'm just slow!

    The most important thing is to learn about bicycling with traffic. Check the League of American Bicyclists for a Traffic Skills 101 course in your area. (Looks like no classes currently scheduled but there are 4 League Certified Instructors in your area whom you could contact.) While you're waiting for an opportunity to take the class, you can read about bicycling with traffic, there are articles & books. I strongly recommend Smart Cycling, or anything that is produced by the League over other sources.

    Other than that, I think you'll have a great time bicycling and you'll love saving all that money. Whenever the price of gas goes up and everyone around you is groaning, you'll be celebrating because it just means you are saving even more money!

    As far as the big hill and the busy intersection, my first suggestion is to reconsider your route. Is it possible there is an alternative route? In my experience the best route in terms of traffic can often mean the worst hill. But I'll take a hill over traffic. After a few months that hill won't seem so bad. If you have to walk it at first to get up the hill, no big deal. The hill is easier if you learn to use your gears and to love your granny gear. In fact my commuter has an extra small granny gear. People laugh at me because I look so silly pedaling fast and going nowhere, but guess what, I can get up any hill without breaking a sweat.

    Crossing the busy street might be best done at one intersection, maybe one with a light, over another. Intersections are the trickiest and most dangerous. If you use a crosswalk, walk your bike. Don't ride through the crosswalk. I know some people will disagree with me, but it is the safest way to use a crosswalk. I prefer to use the street. That is actually much safer than using the crosswalk--counter intuitive I know, but look at the statistics.

    Four miles is a nice distance for a commute. It's long enough to be a decent workout without being too arduous for a daily commute. I know some people bike 15 or 20 miles daily but obviously very few. My commute used to be 3 miles, and now it is 1.5 miles--not really far enough that I feel like I get a workout. On the other hand I bike every single day, no matter how I feel, because it's just easier. So it's at least a little bit of exercise that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

    Good luck! There is lots of advice already here on Team Estrogen, and feel free to consult us about your specific challenges.
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    1,972
    My only suggestion is (also) to look at alternate routes. If you're used to driving, you think of routes as a driver, so it's easy to miss the "perfect" bike route because you're thinking of the most direct way to drive. When I bike commute, I ride a road that is about 3-4 blocks north of the one I would take in a car and then turn south about 2 roads sooner, but it's a parallel route and has bike lanes and has a speed limit of 35 mph (instead of up to 45). Since it's a slower road with more lights, it generally has next to no car traffic during commuter hours. I'd say go out at a time with little traffic (maybe early on a Saturday) on your bike and explore what other options you might not see from behind the wheel of a car. And check to see what Google bike directions suggest. Google can come up with some awful routes but has had some great suggestions I wouldn't have known!

    "I never met a donut I didn't like" - Dave Wiens

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Moline, IL
    Posts
    24
    Thank you all so much for the help! I am so new to this. Right now its freezing cold outside I am hoping on Saturday next weekend I will be able to get out and ride again. I am just going to continue to lurk the board and read read and read!
    Taking it one day at a time

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,645
    your commute is exactly like mine. Big hill down to work and up to home. Crossing busy roads. 1 mile of my commute is residential, 1 is a feeder ramp to the Interstate and the other two miles are on a fast commercial road paralleling the highway. it's great though, i never get heated up on my way to work. 4 miles each way, just enough for a great work out.
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

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    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Moline, IL
    Posts
    24
    I checked out google maps I have never seen that before. Where you can choose walking and what not. I guess for me to get to work the longest is 2.6 miles to and they have lots of good routes. As soon as it gets warmer I am going to start with a 1 mile ride and then work my way up to the route to work!
    Taking it one day at a time

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    206
    Quote Originally Posted by Melalvai View Post
    The most important thing is to learn about bicycling with traffic. Check the League of American Bicyclists for a Traffic Skills 101 course in your area. (Looks like no classes currently scheduled but there are 4 League Certified Instructors in your area whom you could contact.) While you're waiting for an opportunity to take the class, you can read about bicycling with traffic, there are articles & books.
    I agree. Take a class, or do some reading. Or both.

    Here is a good website with tips on dealing with intersections. This was all non-intuitive for me, but it works.

    Also: get a mirror.
    Last edited by soprano; 01-03-2012 at 08:38 AM.

 

 

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