Name: Eric Jenkins
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Started bike commuting: 20 years ago, in Vancouver, BC. Semi-regularily since then, every day in the last month. Only put spike tires on this past winter, drove much more in the winters previously.
Commute distance (one way): 7 miles
Describe your commute: Bike path along top of river valley and over a bridge, then on major streets through downtown to cross a major highway (with traffic lights!). Then empty resediential streets up to my work. 35 minutes to get there, as I travel pre-rush hour with very light traffic. Almost every street is a designated bike route.
On the way home, I am able to use one of the few segregated bike paths that allows counter travel down otherwise one-way streets. Although there are quite a few stop signs and non-priority traffic lights, in the afternoon rush hour the bike path is preferable to decidedly non-bikefreindly major streets. The bike path leads to a fantastic multi-use path that follows a ravine down to the river crossing, all very wide and bike-centric. One steep hill back up to the University area (1st or 2nd gear for me!) and back to designated bike paths all the way home. The university area is on very quiet tree-lined streets, looks very New England-y, and I pretend I am in the movie Breaking Away. ( I don’t think the movie was set in New England, but I’m a little US geographically challenged)
I work in long-term care, in a locked down dementia unit. I find the bike ride really gets me in a tranquil mood when I get to work, and calms me down after work. When driving the car, I can get quite testy either direction.
Describe your bike and accessories: Currently using an old Norco ten-speed I found in an alley put out with the garbage cans. Components are Suntour, early 80’s vintage. I fixed it up myself with parts from another old ten-speed, so getting the derailluers working properly is a learning experience as I’ve never really got into the nuts and bolts before now.
Front light is a Cygolite Expillon-250, which is more than enough light for me. Tail light is a Portland Design Works Radbot 1000, which is bright enough to be plainly seen, but not too bright as previous tail-lights have been. I’m very concerned about being seen in traffic, and especially in inclement weather. Also helmet front and rear lights.
I have a trunk bag on a rear rack to carry rain gear and extra sweaters, gloves, etc, as well as a patch kit. Removable Blackburn grocery pannier holds my lunch and coffee supplies, as well as a very full tool kit. I have been stranded by mechanical issues too many times, as I’ve usually had pretty bargain-basement commuter bikes.
What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Just do it, it’s not that hard. I’ve gotten at least one other person at my work riding their bike to work, one more to buy a bike, and one more on the way. Our city has terrible infrastructure problems, and the cars face grid-lock in every direction from our central location – many people are biking out of necessity. I’ve done it on absolutely no budget!