The Slacker's Guide to Bike Commuting

This article isn’t for the detail-oriented bike commuters. It’s also not for the hardcore, race-to-work riders either.

This one is for those of us that don’t like to plan ahead. Bike maintenance isn’t our thing. We consider rain showers wash-day for our bikes. And we certainly aren’t using our daily commute as training for a race.

Commuting by bike is first and foremost supposed to be fun. Gas prices, ‘going green’ and health reasons can get people into bike commuting, but it’s the daily enjoyment that keeps us in the saddle day after day. And let’s face it, planning ahead and wearing Lycra doesn’t sound much like fun to a good many of us.


So for my fellow slackers, here’s your guide to bike commuting:

  1. Ditch the patch kit, grab the cell phone – The worst thing about bike commuting is dealing with flat tires; standing on the road next to your bike with a tiny, frustrating mini-pump trying to force air into your tire. So forget the patch kit and use your cell phone. If you get stranded on the way to work, call a buddy at the office to come get you. If you’re on the way home, call the significant other. It’ll take less time than fixing the flat on the side of the road and you’ll get to use your floor pump in the comfort of your own workshop.
  2. Check the weather, consider the car or bus – Let’s face it, riding to work in a downpour causes a lot of problems. It soaks you and everything you brought. Takes a lot more time to get ready for work. All in all, zaps all the fun right out of bike commuting. So if the weather sucks, don’t feel bad about grabbing your keys or walking to the nearest bus stop.
  3. Leave the lycra, wear your normal clothes – When I see another bike commuter on their way to work in full body spandex, it just looks difficult. The time changing, the extra cargo to carry, etc. My normal commuting attire is what I work in everyday. I roll up my pants and head out the door. Simple and comfortable.
  4. Use lights that run on generators – Dealing with batteries in your lights can be frustrating and dangerous. They will always go out on you right at the darkest point in your ride home. Consider spending the extra money on some Reelights or Pedalites. Both are great options for adding visibility to your bike without ever worrying about batteries.
  5. Don’t be ashamed to walk the bike – Your morning bike commute is not the Tour de France. There’s no grand prize and yellow jersey at the finish line. There’s no reason to grind up those hills if you stayed up until 3AM last night watching X-files reruns and eating cereal. (Am I the only one that does that?). Feel free to get off the bike and walk up some of those hills. We’re trying to keep this fun, folks.
  6. Take the flattest route possible – Remember that the shortest route is not necessarily the best. By using a tool like you can view the elevation map of your route. Play around with different variations to see what makes for the easiest way to the office.
  7. For a long commute, consider driving part of it – If you’ve got a commute that’s too long for your physical condition or time restraints, try finding a public parking lot where you can stash your car. Drive halfway and then bike the rest.

You may also want to check out my Guide to a Simple Bike Commute.

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0 thoughts on “The Slacker's Guide to Bike Commuting”

  1. Daniel Ems says:

    Great article – thanks for the suggestions! I’m about to move and my commute will go from 2 miles to 7 miles (one way), and I’ll have a bridge to cross (over the Ohio River).

    Now I just need a new bike – my mountain bike is NO FUN on the street. Any thoughts about commuting with a single speed bike (not fixed gear)? Pros? Cons?

  2. ianJoe says:

    Now you’re talking! I just got my slacker wake up call yesterday morning after cranking up a small rise on my 925 fixie. Somehow my leg ended up directly under my top tube, dented my right thigh, threw me down, bashed my left elbow, slid me 20 feet down the road, and re-branded my pedal (it’s now a “ma” – so much for “shi” and “no”). I guess blasting to work at 5am on autopilot ain’t such a good idea for me. It’s funny, the only time I’m a semi-serious rider is during my work commute. Otherwise I’m sporting some rolled up jeans and a pair of crocs…incidentally I flipped my hub back to freewheel last night.

  3. Shawn says:

    How flat is your commute? Single Speeds are great, less work and cheaper to keep running but you definately lose on verstiality. If you ride to work is flat and your city or town is flat in general single speeds are great. Personally I like gears but I love along side the Coastal Mountains.

  4. Daniel Ems says:

    Shawn – my ride is almost completely flat. There’s only about a 50ft elevation difference between the highest and lowest points!

    All the “hills” are long and gradual – no mountains, for sure.

  5. Len says:

    Bikely at is another great way to check out routes. You can also create and share your routes.

  6. ianJoe says:

    My commute is 16 miles round trip with a few hills (100 footers) and I have no problem riding my single speed. Sure you slow down on the climbs, but the way down is very nice. Also a good opportunity to take a slurp-a-joe and bite of danish. Just don’t try it fixed…the danish part.

  7. Fritz says:

    Good tips, Tim. I’d suggest flat resistant tires of some kind over calling for help, though.

    Ian — ouch! Get well soon.

  8. MikeOnBike says:

    1. Echoing Fritz, what works for me is a combination of non-fragile tires and liquid Slime.

    2. Riding in the rain is a special kind of fun. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. My favorite rain gear is a cycle cape/poncho.

    4. My LED lights go for weeks of use on a set of batteries. (White LEDs might be the most significant new cycling accessory in years.) I’ve never had them die on me. They just get dimmer as the batteries wear down. I have front/rear lights on both the bike and the helmet, so I’m covered if one should ever fail.

    7. I’ve done the drive+bike thing. I’m currently doing the bike+train+bike thing.

  9. Shawn says:

    A single speed sounds ideal then or a 3-speed internal gear could be cool too.

  10. wannaCmore says:

    Here I thought I was just out of shape. but it turns out I’m really a slacker! Told my wife that being a slacker could save some money :)…

  11. Jimbo says:

    I’m a slacker too! Mostly commute on a san jose single speed racks, fenders and lights etc. Have it ready to go at all times. At this point it is easier than remembering where my car keys are we are still getting frost and I am to lazy to scrape windows so I’ll ride my bike. I ride the single speed cause I am to much of a slacker to worry about and do any kind of maintanance. I do however take the time to put on cycling shoes. But they have velcro and are easier to get on than tying laces. Guess I am a slacker there too. I do pack and take my own lunch but only cause I am too much of a slacker to go get something. I’m a happy slacker though. I ride my bike and park it right by my work area of I drove I would have to walk to my car. That is too much effort.

  12. Jen says:

    I. Love. This. Article.
    I am a huge slacker when it comes to my commute. I wear my work clothes, take the flattest route, drive in on bad-weather days (like today, booooo!), and make sure my commute is one of the high points of my day.

    I do need some conditioning, since I’ll soon be pulling a trailer and a toddler around town…but I’ll keep kicking back on my way to work.

  13. rick says:

    1. I’m way to much of a slacker to own a cell phone. I don’t want to be that connected.

    2. I don’t own a car and stopped taking the bus after discovering I’m so muck quicker on my bike.

    3. Agreed. I have never nor will I ever own lycra. I really do wish SOME others would follow this rule also.

    4. Can’t be bothered with lights and or reflectors. Ruins the lines on my slick ride.

    5. f you have to get off your bike and push it’s the wrong bike for the job. Gears are awesome, nine is enough though.

    6. I live to ride the hills. I like nothing more than the feeling of accomplishment when cresting a hill after feeling like my lungs and heart are going to burst out of my chest.

    7. .I go out of my way to extend the length of my commute so I can have more saddle time. make at least

  14. tara says:

    hmm. love the article. i am the quintessential slacker. always willing to stick my bike on the bus halfway to work if not feeling it in rainy vancouver.
    but i kind of like my spandex pants. dorky and sleek at the same time. keep me warm. make me feel faster if i am having a want to feel faster day.
    let’s not rule out the lycra, kay folks?

  15. James says:

    This is a welcome article. I certainly agree with most of these points. Namely–yeah, ride your bike as much as possible, but if you are exhausted, the weather is horrible, or whatever, take the bus or carpool with someone. If that’s not possible, then drive.
    On my short (7 mile round trip) commute to school, I am occasionally passed by super macho cross type cyclists. You know, the guys with 6 foot round calf muscles. Well that’s fine and all, but I have to giggle to myself when I see them in those costumes. As if they can’t be speed demons without them.
    Personally, I think that one of the best ways we can get more people on bikes is by showing how it cycling is a perfectly normal form of transportation. I don’t want people to think it’s some kind of life changing investment. That’s one of the reasons why I always wear regular clothes for my commute. Plus, I don’t have 6 foot calfs or monstrous quads to show off. To each his own!

  16. Siouxgeonz says:

    More tips on the physical slacking aspects of commuting : )

    Very seductive article here; yea, you can be a slacker… just commute when its easy and take it easy… but it’s only a matter of time before you turn into a die-hard, righteous commuting snob like Rick 🙂

    Single speeds are totally fine if it’s flat. Hang out on ebay until a Schwinn Racer comes up. I’ve got a ’68 model and for their time they were, in their way, built for efficiency. One speed (they come in three-speed too but I didn’t want ot mess with that) but the gear is higher than most so you can really crank out the watts.

  17. Mr152 says:

    Good advice.
    I wear cycling gear, ride no matter what the conditions and always repair flats by the side of the road.
    I relented the other week and caught the train some of the way home,but only because it was raining and I was shivering uncontrollably with a fever, but still rode the rest of the way in an illness induced dellerium.
    After reading this I think maybe I could relax a bit, but I’m stuck in my habits.

  18. Lindsey says:

    Just found this site, love this article.

    I do have a question, though (and I’m not sure where to put it). I’m moving off campus for the next school year and my apartment is a little over two-miles away, over relatively flat terrain (it’s Florida, I cannot be convinced that hills actually exist here). I have a mountain bike already–would that be bad for such a commute? I am quite a slacker (so much so that I never bothered getting a driver’s license), so I’m not looking for too much exercise, but I’m also cursed to be a low-income college student.

  19. Fritz says:

    The bike you have is the perfect commuter bike, Lindsey. Have fun with it!

  20. siouxgeonz says:

    Mountain bike tires generally are harder to push along than smoother-tread or skinnier ones, but 2 miles prob’ly isn’t far enough to make a big difference. Slack on 😀

  21. Wade says:

    It pays to watch out for an old gem on craigslist too. I picked up a 1994 Scott MTB that had seen better days. Striped it down, cleaned it up, had to replace the bottom bracket and put a single speed conversion kit (from Performance, $18, sweet!). All in all, I have about $70 in this bike, including the bike!

    Running a 34/15 gearing over a flat 4-mile commute. It’s quite nice. Not so tall that I have a hard time rolling, and not spinning my butt off trying to feel like I am getting anywhere. That coupled with the fact that this is far from the prettiest bike in the rack and therefore not a target for the taking make it the perfect bike.

    Since I have built it up I haven’t been on the roadie or my MTB. Guess that will have to change eventually, but dammit. . . this bike is FUN.

    Not to mention the pride in ownership knowing that I tore it down and resurrected it. Best of luck getting something that works for you. I like the simplicity of the single speed for a commuter.


  22. John says:

    I do #7 every day.

  23. Jett says:

    I’ve been tossing about the idea of “recreational commuting”. Riding a bike to work is almost like playing hooky anyway.

    I start out my commute by riding in the opposite direction of the office. There’s a nice road that I like over by Emory University so I go about 3 miles out of my way to head over there.

    Down by Candler Park, there’s a nice multi-use trail that runs next to the golf course. This is worth expanding the route by another few miles.

    And there’s usually something along the way worth making a detour to ride past.

  24. dan says:

    I feel like single speed is good for ‘commuting slackers’ like myself.
    Less maintenance. Less shifting.
    That and my commute is barely 8 miles round trip.
    I ride a re-used 70’s schwinn with some new wheels that I converted to a single speed.

    Tomorrow If I go on a training ride its gonna be over 25miles
    and then I break out the clipless pedals and bike shorts and my Trek.

    Fixed gear is an option I’m thinking for my next city bike.
    I wanted to have some experience riding in urban traffic
    before I jumped right on the fixed gear boat.

  25. elise says:

    ah, the bike-bus-bike combo…some it’s more bus than bike, some days it’s more bike than bus. really depends on the weather, the amount of time, and how tired I am coming home. good advice! becoming a bike commuter was a little nerve-wracking for me, but now I dread the days I have to drive. excellent article.

  26. German says:

    So relieved that I’m not the only slacker in the cyclommuter universe. I do a rinky-dink 3 miles to a train station for a 20-mile one-way commute.

    Yesterday morning the train system was partially shut down because someone jumped into the track (and survived). I got off the rail, biked an additional 3 miles on a bile path under the track (it’s elevated) and hopped on a bus with bike rack – they all have them in Miami – to the next functioning station. Beat my boss and his secretary (both early birds and two trains – about 10 minutes – ahead of mine) to the office.

    They don’t make fun of my cyclommuting anymore, at least not too much of it. : )

  27. Mab says:

    I’m just starting to commute on my $10 yard sale bike and after reading many of the articles on this site I was starting to feel inadequate. I’m not so much a slacker as a complete novice. Maybe someday I’ll be more of a real cycler but for now I just want to go from point A to point B.

  28. Shay in KC says:

    Shoot, I’m just glad I’m not the only bike commuter out there that doesn’t carry an entire bike store – I’m sorry, spare tire kit – with them. 🙂 My 13-mile round trip commute carries me up and down a few steepish hills (there’s a 250ft change between my highest and lowest points), and I’m grateful for my multiple gears.

    Here’s the ultimate bike commuter slackerdom though – I bought myself an electric bike. I love it. I don’t have to stress myself over the hills, I just pedal (and occasionally get some help). Because I don’t work as hard, I don’t sweat as much, which means I can ride in my regular clothes and carry less with me. That said, I do bike in a bright orange shirt with whatever other layers I need – I just carry some body spray and deodorant and change my shirt at the office.

    Anyway, I’ve been loving my commute. I’m saving a bunch of money on gas, love the fresh air in the mornings…

  29. Kemosabe says:

    Gears are for sissys.

  30. Jesse says:

    For that cellphone, it pays to be a member of the Better World Club (BWC), a green alternative to AAA, because they will provide road service for your bike and do a lot of other green things like funding lobbyists for green legislation, etc.

    Hope this helps!! 🙂

  31. gowestgirl says:

    I am a new bike commuter and somewhat of a slacker. I am doing this largely for economy and fitness and have found it is really a great way to start the day. My husband and I now have panniers and a saddlebag to store our stuff. I wear winter running gear into work since it is still chilly where I live and something simple to change into at work, where I also store some grooming items. I always have my cell for emergencies but haven’t yet committed to the bike repair kit. We had three snowfalls in the last two weeks and I am just not ready to ride in that kind of weather – mostly because we don’t have shower facilities at work. Of course if the price of gas goes up I fully expect so many people are going to be biking that area businesses are going to have to start accommodating those types of needs. One of my next tasks will be to try the bus route. Bus service here is not the greatest and I know more regular circulation would help us a lot in if-y weather.

  32. Murk says:

    When I commute, I do need to be out of regular clothing, as the route is long enough and hilly enough that I perspire. (About 15-20km each way, depending upon the route – I do change my route from time to time, and important point in keeping it fun)

    To the first commenter who said about mountain bikes on the road. One option is to fit smoothish tyres. I use Marathon Schwalbe. Touch wood, I’ve not had a puncture yet.

  33. Jo says:

    I love cycling my bike to college and work, I just wish some car drivers had a bit more respect! I had one guy pull out – not in front of me – but on top of me today!

    I’ve got quite a chunky suspension mountain bike at the moment but I am considering getting one of those light bikes with thin tyers to make it a bit easier! Does anyone know any good cheap makes?

    I wish everyone could be slackers like us!

  34. Kevin Levites says:

    I’ve commuted to work for many years by bicycle, and I credit the practice with saving me huge amounts of money, better health, a sense of social virtue, etc.

    Has anyone tried a folding, collapsable bicycle? I think the folding bicycle is the most underrated and underappreciated piece of equipment for the bicycle commuter.

    Mine was made by Dahon, and was picked up at a pawn shop for a pittance. It has 16 inch wheels, and folds into a package about the size of a modest backpack. I can carry it onto a bus or train if I get stuck in bad weather, I can collapse it and take it with me in a co-worker’s car if my plans change after work and we go out for drinks, and I can keep it in my car in case I break down and have to go somewhere for help.

    I live in South Florida (hurricane country), and the bicycle is an invaluable tool when gasoline is scarce, phones are out, the roads are littered with debris, and you have to get around.

    The collapsable bicycle is ideal for this, as it can be hidden from looters and/or carried into a store or business with you . . . so the collapsing bike is relatively immune to theft.

    All the best,

    —Kevin Levites

  35. Wayne says:

    What Rick said about cell phones!!! I don’t want to be THAT connected. Ditch the mini pump and get a C02 pump. I can fix my own flats waaaay quicker then calling somebody for help. Also think of that 50 to 100 bucks a month you will be saving, slackers do NOT own cell phones, texting teens do” that’s from page 3 of the slacker handbook!!!

    L.E.Ds rock, I have been commuting with mine for the past year and haven’t had to change the batteries yet. I use them to be seen NOT to help me see.

    As for generators what happens when you are stopped?

    Fixies, why.. Its not like gears are that much of a maintenance problem. The problem with fixes is they may not be set up for YOUR natural RPM.

    Folding bikes are heavy, mountain bikes are slow, unless you put some skinny slicks on the MTB, then it’s a decent commuter. Cross bikes IMHO make the BEST commuters.. However a slacker rides what he or she has..

    Spandex, hey I used to hate that stuff, tell I actually tried some padded shorts, they rock. I commute 9 miles one way in Sunny HOT S.C.. Normal cloths are NOT an option. I pack my work clothes in a QD seat post rack/bag combo, and take a “Combat” bath when I get to work.

    I also use Clip less peddles because like any good slacker the less effort I have to produce the better clipless peddles make my bike more efficient, they make clipless shoes in “Slacker” style so you can still walk around with them on, however I do keep an extra set of prepositionioned shoes at work.

  36. Shorty says:

    I consider myself “practical”, not a “slacker”, because I drive to work on Monday with the bike on roof rack, leave car at office and ride bike home (15 miles), ride in Tuesday morning, drive home with bike Tuesday PM. Then, I carpool Wednesday with spouse, then repeat the drive/ride, ride/drive on Th/Fr. So I halve my driving, and get sixty biking miles per week. I use my car as my locker with clothes, have car at work in case I have meetings, can drive home if weather hits, and can use wife’s car at home if needed. This is the best compromise for me.

  37. nicole says:

    i am considering commuting to work and school and am wondering if there is any sort of rule of thumb regarding how long a commute will take, assuming of course you’re not tour de france-ing it from point a to point b….

  38. gowestgirl8 says:

    In response to Nicole (9/21/08), my commute of 4.5 miles takes about 30 minutes. About 3/4 is on paved and crushed gravel multi-use path and a bike lane through the university campus. It is hilly in a few places too. I ride a 24 speed Specialized Expedition and speed is not my priority. A coworker of mine who lives in my neighborhood gets to work in 15 – 20 minutes from but she rides a traditional street bike, which is light and fast. I also have to plan on a little grooming work upon arrival so I try to get there 10-15 minutes in advance.

  39. nicole says:

    thanks gowest! that actually helped quite a bit!

  40. Wayne says:

    Nicole the only real way to know how long it will take is to actually do it one day. Everybody rides at different speeds. What may take me a 1/2 hour may take you 15 minutes?

  41. Mike says:

    Great article! I’m just getting into commuting to college. Keep up the great writing, brosef.

  42. Jake says:

    Any idea how to sew a chamois into a hacked pair of cargo pants?

  43. Bike Miami says:

    Be a slacker with me-
    Bike Miami
    The City of Miami closes Downtown streets to cars so that everybody else (including cyclists, of course) can explore the city in a new way. The Florida Bicycle Association, yuppies, Critical Mass, more a few bike collective and, hopefully, you will be there to talk about your experiences getting on the bike…
    Good times-

  44. Drooskee says:

    3 words: Electra Straight Eight. I used to ride my MTB to work,, I purchased this bike over the weekend and OMG! WTF! Why did I not get one sooner. It’s the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden. It also looks like the coolest bike ever made. It has big 3″ slicks that when all the way aired up. Give me an exceptional smooth, effortless ride. I upgraded the seat to a super comfy gel. I can ride all day. I even have a little hill that is still no big whoop on this bike. I’m so happy. I wake up in the morning and cant wait to go to work.

  45. Rick says:

    Ditto on the rain cape suggestion above–I’ve used them for years. Easy on, easy off, keep you dry but don’t overheat you. Cheap, too.

    But why the big deal about flats? It takes me ten whole minutes to change one, and with mini-pumps that fold out into floor pumps, even a 120psi tire is a piece of cake. I’ve done it. I favor the Topeak Morph seires–no, I worship it!

    The newer belted tires, especially the Schwalbe Marathons, last for many thousands of miles and rarely get flats. Cheap Panaracer Pasela Tourguards too. I’ve gone four thousand miles without flats on those.

  46. Wonderful list. Well organized and true for the average urban commuter. I commute usually in work boots, not for any reason, but they are what I have for cold, but totally heavy. However, for simple urban commuting, it weight is not an issue. Plus, the only techy gear I have for clothing is an old, hand-me-down wind breaker. And yet, much like your post states, I survive.

  47. Ryan says:

    I would love to commute by bike, but I am worried I live too far from my work for it to be fesible. I live in Indianapolis and have to drive 17 miles each way to work. My commute via car takes about 45 minutes. Indy has very little in the way of bike paths. Is my idea doomed to fail?

  48. steve says:

    i commute 17.5 miles each way in southern indiana where there’s nothing but hills… takes me about an hour and 20 minutes… i don’t consider it too far, as long as i don’t get rained on too much… 😉

  49. Seth says:

    I have been looking for motivation to start riding my bike to work. I work 20 miles away (thanks to #48 for giving me an idea of how long it will take!) and don’t get out of work until 12am. My concern is safety, but I think I’ll give it a shot. I’m subscribing to this feed, after all, I am a slacker!


  50. Allison says:

    I like riding to work, but I am beat and starving by the time I head home. I am sick of eating bars and sticks (granola, energy, fruit, candy, celery,whatever). Does anybody have a great slacker snack before or for the trip home?

  51. Rantwick says:

    Can’t agree with the change of clothes thing. I like being able to ride hard and change out of my sweaty stuff. It also allows me to care a little less about the weather… if I get wet, I’ll be changing anyway. I know not everyone has the luxury of changing when they get to work, but if you can, the extra time is well worth it, at least to me.

    Great article in general though! Reduced “hassle” = more happy commuters!

  52. I commute 8 miles each way.Takes me about an hour. Maybe a little longer coming home as there’s more uphill in that direction. I do wear biking clothes though not skintight lycra! Padded shorts and wicking shirts greatly increase comfort. I live in the DC area and in even now (fall) it can be hot & humid which = very sweaty upon arrival. I change into the kind of light packable clothes that I bring on business trips (am a woman in case you’re wondering about the clothes. Men who need to wear suits might not have this option!). To clean up I use disposable body wipes. Fully agree with the article’s let’s keep this fun attitude. Whatever does that for you works. Be safe out there!

  53. Allie says:

    Great article! I bike around DC a lot as well – while I’m not an expert uber bike guru, I get a total thrill out of getting around on a bike. That amazing feeling of passing all the cars stopped in traffic – priceless… and Anyone can do it!! This article is a great resource to just get going.

  54. neali says:

    Thanks for the article. I am considering selling my car and buying a commuter bike. Every other site I’ve seen is very hardcore. This makes it seem fun not to mention a good way to get myself to exercise. What about biking in the snow? Any suggestions?

  55. JLuV says:

    Thanks so much for the article. My commute is only 4 miles RT – so it’s nice to have some great pointers (like us gentle riders. I SO enjoy my bike for this short distance and running errands and am not feelin the “hard core” biker vibe. Thanks again!

  56. RICK says:

    Great post on commuting with so smarts. I just started commuting with a padal assist electric bike. As I ride 18 miles daily it was the only way I could get started. Visit my blog if you can.
    Thanks, Rick

  57. Dave says:

    Lots of spam on this board I see…

    Anyhow, one thing to mention is peddle-assist or straight up motorizing your bike. I’m buying a second bike to add an engine to it and occasionally ride my mini Harley to work!

  58. Sonia says:

    I commute 8 miles each way.Takes me about an hour. Maybe a little longer coming home as there’s more uphill in that direction. I do wear biking clothes though not skintight lycra! Padded shorts and wicking shirts greatly increase comfort. I live in the DC area and in even now (fall) it can be hot & humid which = very sweaty upon arrival. I change into the kind of light packable clothes that I bring on business trips (am a woman in case you’re wondering about the clothes. custom term papers

  59. Joe says:

    Meetings and personal commitments keep me from riding every day. On my “car days” I can bring clothes for my riding days. I’ve also started bring part of my lunch, fruit, too.

  60. Israel says:

    I’ve finally found a bike commuting post I can totally relate to. Ditto to almost everything on the list–maintenance is a like or not situation, so I just do it. However, I agree with the sentiment about fixing flats on the side of the road–luckily those are few and far between. Thanks for the info about generator lights, which I didn’t know about. As for #5, 6 and 7, I bike commute just under 8 miles each day and I hate to take a day off! Terrain hasn’t been much trouble, I walked a major incline just yesterday, though, the heat was really taking a toll on me.

    The best thing about bike commuting is that as a 40+ father of three, it gives me some recreation time, as well as saving money, being “green” and fulfilling the exercise requirement. I’ve got to keep it practical and I do. I appreciate the down to earth tone. Thanks for the post.

  61. Emily WK says:

    I love the suggestions, but may I just add that climate may make wearing your regular work clothes unpractical? I live in DC where the humidity means that there is no “easy” level of biking that won’t make me sweat a lot.

  62. Shizzy says:

    Emily WK…

    Minnesota is the same. nothing like 85+ degrees and 87% humidity to make you sweat.

    I am able to wear shorts and t shirts at work so I simply pack an extra t shirt to change in to once I get to work. I havent yet tried any of the “fancy” fabric shirts that are supposed to be better then my $5 shirts.

  63. TREYDOO says:

    I think that’s awesome.
    I just kinda did the same thing bought a cheap bike on craigslist and started riding im 5 miles from work and its no problem. Mountian bikes are great.
    lots of gears 🙂

  64. Mike says:

    Wow. There are others like me ! My story:

    I sold my car because I got tired of car maintenance – dumb stuff kept breaking, and I got tired of fixing it. Decided to carpool instead.

    Then my carpool buddy went on vacation for a week and I was stuck without a ride.

    Whipped out my old, rusty, heavy mountain bike, and knocked out a 18 mile round trip commute that week – every day. Realized that riding a bike was fun and quit carpooling.

    3 months later I scored on Craigslist a sweet Specialized road/commuter bike ($1000 bike for $225 bucks). Even though I ride a respectable bike now, I’m anti-spandex, anti-logo’s, turn off my cell phone, go to work early and leave early – and enjoy the time I get to ride.

    Not to mention my blood pressure’s dropped 10 points, I’ve lost 10 pounds, and my chicken legs don’t look as scrawny anymore.

  65. A New Bike says:

    Lots of good stuff to keep a casual commuter riding. Which, I think, should be the ultimate goal. I haven’t seen the self charging lights in person, but I think most people could get away with just battery free reflectors or stuffing a cheap headlamp under their seat.

  66. mark ballard says:

    My commute is 32 miles round trip in the NC mountains. My mountain bike gets me back and forth with inverted tread tires.

  67. Ed says:

    I have been toying with a daily bike commute but I start work at 5 AM and thinking of getting up even 45 minutes earlier so I can ride really puts me off..guess i should just do-it

  68. John says:

    id call myself a slacker commuter for sure.. i cycle because i have no intention of running a car – id much rather the money went on toys and beer, and i hate buses with a passion, however id kinda disagree with almost every point…

    1) sod that, itd take ages. just have a spare tube and a couple of tire levers in your bag. takes no more than 10 minutes to swap the tube out (also if you replace the tires somewhat often, about every 2000 miles or after 2 punctures on the same wheel, keep them as hard as you can at all times and pay attention to the road you should almost never get a flat)

    2)ok fair enough, though personally since i sweat so much i have to wear cycling kit anyway i dont really mind rain… keeps me cooler.

    3) see 2… i have NO idea how people can go any distance and not sweat buckets (and i live in the UK, hardly a sweltering climate).. doesnt have to be spandex, but to be honest its better, baggy clothes stick and are uncomfortable when sweaty/rained on. who gives a crap what you look like when you’re whizzing past at 20mph with earphones in?

    4) really.. REALLY? dynamos suck a load out of your speed for no reason. the batteries in an LED headlight need changing about once a year lol.

    5-7 – yeah fair enough (though id never walk since theres no need for that unless you live in the alps or something lol)

  69. Mike says:

    Well, this month marks my one year anniversary of bike commuting.

    Total Flats: 2
    Run in’s with cars: 1
    Run in’s with cops: 1
    Deer: Almost 1
    Maintenance: new chain, 2 new tires.
    Top speed: 38.20 mph (downhill)
    Miles logged: 2200

    Goals this year – sell car, convince wife to buy a newer, faster, backup bike. Log 5,000 miles.

    Commute time has dropped from 48 minutes to around 32-35.

  70. e0richt says:

    I actually disagree with #1… I hate to wait around for someone to pick me up but I also hate patch kits… so I carry 2 tubes so I can easily fix a flat and use the patch kit for when I either get home or in the absolutely rare case that I have 3 flats over the course of a commute (hasn’t happened yet).

  71. Queermagic says:

    Yes! I’m super lucky that my bus route and bike to work run parallel about half the way. I often bike one way for whatever reason. I do what I want. Sometime if some fun social event requires a detour up a long hill or far away I’ll get a Lyft. As a Seattle bike commuter however I can not ride to work in wok clothes. Even though I see that many others do here I can’t. 1. I sweat too much which just causes fretting. I love not fretting. 2. You never know when it will rain. Again I am happiest when I don’t have to fret. So I have simple outfits that generally go together. Throw them in the bag.
    I experience rainy muddy day rides kind of like a toddler in a mud puddle. It’s a contained time with a hot shower at the end, so I find myself giggling and with shit eating grins often.

  72. Jodi says:

    Getting from A to B is the beautifully simplistic point behind commuting, right? We don’t have to over-complicate. Some folks that have done it, can save novices some trouble with their know-how, while some folks that have done it like to make it more complicated than it really in efforts to magnify their own awesomeness.

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