Commuting Gear

There’s no one right way, but I can tell you what my experiences have been, and why I’ve ended up where I am, in terms of gear.

Bicycle commuting is easy when you have a short commute and the weather is moderate (dry, neither too warm nor too cold). Some people do it with nothing more than an elastic to keep their pants out of the bike chain. Personally, I recommend against that, because cycling is really hard on dress clothes, particularly the seat/crotch. When I worked somewhere I could wear what I wanted, I was wearing much heavier & tougher pants in winter, and I’d still wear through the seats in just a few years (even while the rest of the pants were just fine).

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Honking Doesn’t Help

I’ll cut right to the chase here: I’m already going as fast as I can, and I’m positioned as far to the right on the road as I can safely be. So, if you honk at me in an effort to get me to change my behavior, I only have two options: move further left, or slow down. I’ll probably do both.

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“Multi-Use” Paths Aren’t Really

I recently responded to a thread on a local forum about multi-use path etiquette, and thought this was a pretty good statement of why paths are bad for cyclists, so I thought i’d repurpose it for here.

That’s why I must object to the way some people behave on our bike paths. Of all the thousands of miles of streets and sidewalks in Madison, we bicyclists have only a few narrow paths which we can call our own. Yet every day, I pass dozens of non-bicyclists who take over these trails and treat them like their own personal playgrounds. They stroll two or three abreast, oblivious to the fact that they are blocking traffic from behind. They walk on the left side of the road, or suddenly lurch from the right lane to the left without a thought for what might be behind them. They walk dogs. They carry infants, push baby carriages, and let their young children roam unsupervised. It is at best a constant annoyance, and at worst a grave danger to everyone involved.

Bike paths may not be strictly for bikes, but they’re for people who want to move. If you’re jogging or inline skating, fine. If you’re just walking or goofing around, please use the sidewalk instead.

Your basic problem here is that you’ve fallen for the propaganda: those pushing the paths call them “multi-use paths” when they’re selling them to pedestrians or trying to get funding, and “bike paths” when they’re selling them to cyclists. Continue reading

Do you even know what lanes are for?

Does the average motorist even understand basic principles of traffic and road utilization, like destination-based lanes? 

W Dayton St has a bike lane, so when it’s safe to do so, I use the bike lane, out of consideration for the motorists. Though given the way motorists treat me, I don’t know why I bother. A car is the first vehicle to Park St, and they already have their right-turn signal on as they come to a stop at the lights, so they obviously already know they’re planning to turn right. But they’re not in the right-most lane.  Continue reading