Sunday, April 03, 2005


I was looking for bicycle-related news items on Google News, and came across a bunch of stories that had a common theme. “Gasoline is so expensive! Ah’m gonna get me a good bah-sickle!” And it’s true. When the weather warms up and gas prices rise, bicycle use goes up too. That’s not news to those of us in the saddle year-round, but for the sake of those contemplating using a bicycle for transportation, whether it’s regular or occasional, I went looking for a few resources to provide more information.

First, I’m not car-free. I live in suburbia and I have teenagers. An automobile is a necessity, but it’s not a necessity for EVERY trip. The grocery store is close enough that I can walk or ride my bike there. And I commute about 10 miles to work. These are my solutions and may not work for others. But almost anyone can substitute a bicycle for short trips. Consider this – an easy pace of 12 miles per hour means you can cover a mile in 5 minutes. For short trips, bicycle travel is comparable to a car. Just be aware that the simple joy of riding a bicycle can grow on you until suddenly you discover that those ‘long’ trips you found daunting at first have somehow become routine.

Using a bicycle for transportation or utility is an exercise in problem solving. How do I get groceries home from the store? How do I get work clothes to and from my office? What do I have to do to ride at night or in the rain? We each solve these problems differently. That’s why I won’t make equipment recommendations. I’ve tried panniers, backpacks, and messenger bags for instance, and each has advantages. You’ll find what works best in your own situation.

This first site is a straightforward list of bicycle commuting items.

Jennifer's Bicycle Commuting Suggestions
Here is a small list of suggested equipment for commuting (and/or doing errands, basic transportation, etc.) by bicycle. No one paid me for any of these endorsements.

This next one is from Arthur Ross, Madison’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. It’s more comprehensive, (i.e. it takes longer to read!)

The bicycle is the vehicle of choice for thousands of Madison's workers and students. The bicycle is an excellent choice for commuting, providing personal travel at the times and to destinations desired. If you live within five miles of work or school, a bicycle is often the quickest and most efficient mode of travel. Many bicyclists commute longer distances as well. Commuting to school or work by bicycle can become an enjoyable part of your daily routine.

Finally, here’s John Allen’s “Street Smarts”, one of my favorites because it’s concise and very informative. It’s more about riding than equipment.

This compact tutorial, available as a 46-page booklet and in an online version, will increase your safety and confidence while bicycling on any road, whether you are a beginner or an expert. You'll have more fun and feel better about riding, be it for pleasure, fitness or transportation. It has been published in several editions and sold well over 300,000 copies. The most recent edition is available in print, and on this Web site.
There are lots of other resources, of course. One of the very best is another bicycle-commuter! If you know someone who rides to work, ask about the commute. Most cyclists are glad to share what they've learned. Feel free to contact me though the comments or e-mail features of this blog too.


Blogger Travis said...

Reading the posts at Bike Forums helped answer the questions I had before I began commuting a year ago.

10:31 AM  

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