Get started Biking to Work

It’s been about ten months since I last posted to this blog. I had run out of things to say and, frankly, I thought I was done; but this morning’s commute changed my mind. What was special about today’s commute? I’m working from home.

Picture of an amazing sunrise

It’s hard to appreciate a view like this from a car moving at 40 mph in traffic. That’s one reason I ride a bike. Photo by Natesh Ramasamy.

My bedroom is upstairs and my desk is downstairs, but I felt compelled to put a 45 minute ride in between the two. What is really remarkable about this is that when I started commuting almost ten years ago getting on my bike was a daily struggle and I often was only able to do it because I had left myself no other option for getting to work.

I honestly don’t know whether my “ride to work” was a waste of time, but I do know that my reason for riding has changed from something I have to do to something I want to do. [click to continue…]

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May 12-16 is Bike to Work Week and you will undoubtedly have many opportunities to read about the health and monetary benefits of riding a bike to work. Those articles will be informative and enjoyable and I encourage you to read them.

My Bike to Work Week post, however, will have no practical value.

A cloud covered mountain

I love the way clouds scrape the mountain in spring. This cloud, lit up by alpenglow, makes it hard to tell where the snow-capped mountain stops and the sky begins.

Springtime is ideal for riding a bike to work for so many reasons, but my favorite—by far—is the beauty of the ride. It’s something you can’t appreciate through your car’s tinted windows. It’s something you don’t dare appreciate at 65 miles and hour in bumper to bumper traffic.  [click to continue…]

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Recently our family took a road trip from Utah to points East. Along the way from Hershey, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. we took a detour to Lancaster County to see “Amish Country.” Rolling hills: check. Large families tending well-kept farms: check. Horse drawn buggies: check. Other people looking at Amish Country: check.

Interestingly, we (and many other people) drove thousands of miles at 75-80 mph to—purposely—get stuck behind a buggy.

An Amish buggy and a car wait at a red light.

This guy doesn’t know that the road is for cars. Photo by Tony Fischer.

No one goes to Amish Country and then complains about being delayed by slower traffic because it is expected, but take your bicycle into a traffic lane and don’t be surprised to hear a horn or two.

It’s time to reset expectations—those of motorists, and more importantly your own. While I generally ride on the shoulder (most streets in Salt Lake have a generous shoulder), there are good reasons for riding in the middle of a lane of traffic, and you should be aware of and become comfortable with them. Read why you should take the lane

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Yesterday on a train, I was asked to take yet another survey on transportation and transit. I take every survey that comes my way because I have strong opinions on the subject, but for the last year and a half or so, I have been embarrassed about my answer to one of the questions: how many cars do you have?

The difference between a car and a bike

Why you should include a bicycle in your transportation mix.

I hate admitting we have two cars and two licensed drivers because it implies that everyone in our household who can drive has a car. The truth is that one of the cars gets driven about once a month–primarily to keep the oil circulating and the wheels rotated. (The reason for this “spare” care is a future post.)

While cars have a reasonable (and important) place in the lives of most of us, I firmly believe that not only should a bicycle be in every person’s transportation mix, it should be the go-to vehicle. Why? [click to continue…]

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I just saw another of those studies that answers a question us non-Ph.D types wouldn’t bother asking. In this case the question was, “Are higher speeds more dangerous?” The scientifically-validated answer: yes.

Small child on a fast motorcycle

For some, the need for speed starts young. Photo by Rich Moffitt.

No one should be surprised that that higher vehicle speeds lead to more deaths as well as more crashes in general. But what may be surprising are the many non-crashy ways speed kills. [click to continue…]

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I love riding in the morning; the air is cool, the wind is still, the birds are singing, and promise of a new day colors my view. But morning is, in my opinion, the absolute most dangerous time of day to ride, and I was reminded of this by an recent awful accident. Please take a moment to consider the special circumstances of your morning commute.

Picture of sunrise

Oh say, can you see by the dawn’s early light? Nope, you’re blinded.

Last Friday, a friend of mine was coming down a steep hill early in the morning when car pulled out if front of him causing a collision that sent him flying. He has had multiple surgeries in recent days and I hope he will recover fully, but it is going to be rough.

While I don’t know all the details of the accident, I do know that riding in the morning presents three special safety challenges. One of the challenges is a physical condition and other two are behavioral, but either way, you need to prepare for them and even watch for the effect of the second two in your own riding. [click to continue…]

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Being Safe by Being Confident

March 6, 2013

For years, I accepted the conventional wisdom that riding a bike was inherently dangerous. I figured that sitting on my ever growing backside on a bus was probably worse than the considerable risk of getting run over, and chalked up my continued safety to a run of good luck. After tens of thousands of miles […]

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Bike to Work Hazards Part 3: Fellow Travelers

February 28, 2013

We share planet Earth with a wonderful and diverse collection of carbon-based life forms. And sooner or later, every one of them will try to make you crash. Josh’s route to work takes him past many large, aggressive dogs who usually chase him away from their fences and then return to their owners’ stoops, smugly […]

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Bike to Work Hazards Part 2: Mother Nature

February 20, 2013

You may think you’re doing right by Mother Nature when you bike to work, but don’t expect her to return the favor. She is too busy adding beauty and variety to the earth by dropping multi-colored leaves all over the place, covering the ground with pure white snow, sending life giving rain, and generally strewing […]

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Bike to Work Hazards Part 1: The Mean Streets

February 18, 2013

In Martin Scorese’s 1973 film, The Mean Streets referred to the criminal politics of Little Italy. But for those of us in places where winter brings snow and ice, this time of year can cause the streets to actually become mean: breaking wheels, inflicting flats, and causing crashes. When people think about bicycle safety, they tend to […]

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