Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bike Commuting

So I've been talking a lot about my commute to work. It's probably not interesting to anyone but me, but I'm having fun trying to crack this nut.

I've pretty much decided on biking to and from work, but there are a couple obstacles that I'm working on overcoming:

  1. The ride is 12 miles (19 km) one way, and I'm still not in the best shape. The ride is getting a lot easier, but I'm still wiped by it. Worse, the ride home is largely uphill, and by the last 3 miles, I'm miserable. The solution to this one is to keep it up and get into shape, but that's easier said than done.

  2. The weather hasn't been cooperating. We moved from Charlotte, NC to the Tacoma, WA area; and there are some implications to that. The wet is not as great a problem as the cold. Cold isn't only uncomfortable, icy roads are dangerous. The plan was to be biking full-time in March, but I've found March is a lot icier than I had expected. I'm trying to ride on fine days, but I still drive much more than I ride.

  3. I bought a cheap bike to try and ease into riding, and I'm questioning now my plan to buy a better one "after six months." It's been six months, and I want a better bike, but there is more desire for bike than money to fund one. It's been my experience that better tools generally result in much better results: that is, a better bike will mean an easier ride in, and hence more frequent riding. But there's still the small detail of paying for it.

So my biking plan is coming together, but more slowly than I would have liked.

It's been interesting to note how few people bike here, compared even to Seattle or Portland. This is perhaps not the most bike-friendly place in the world, but after North Carolina, it's awfully friendly.

I've found the drivers here are really great. I've read a lot by cyclists about how aggressive and evil drivers are, but I'm also reading a lot that suggests there are two sides to that story. And noticing bikes more, I'm seeing a lot of cyclists doing things like running stop signs or red lights. In fact, at least one cyclist actually told me he doesn't stop for four-ways.


Here's a hint for cyclists out there: if you run a stop sign and almost get hit by a SUV, it's your own fault. If you then you punch a window "to teach him a lesson"; you deserve whatever the guy gives you. Being on two wheels doesn't make you right. If you ignore the rules of the road, you're the only one to blame when you wind up road-kill.

The good news is, drivers seem to really appreciate a grin and some basic courtesy.

So I'm enjoying what little bike commuting I've managed to get in, and I'm really looking forward to doing it more frequently.


Gwen said...

Next time I visit, maybe you could show me your bike route.

Ames said...

As if running a four-way stop and getting killed will teach the driver a lesson.

Each cyclist should memorize the following axiom: when a driver and cyclist collide, the driver wins.

freedomnan said...

It would seem that "cycling to work" is a bigger statement than it looks. Twelve miles sounds long, though I have known people to regularly do much longer ones: from the Comox Valley to our mill, for instance.