Bicycle Commuter Profile: Thomas

Name: Thomas
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Started bike commuting: Off and on since 1985
Commute distance (one way): 1.5-22 miles

Describe your commute: My morning commute is on an unpleasantly busy and fast part of Peachtree Street in Atlanta, but luckily only about 1.5 miles long. Evenings I take the long way home for 6 to 22 miles, depending on season and daylight available, mostly on relatively quiet streets after riding through the Georgia Tech campus. Sometimes I’ll jump on a MUP for a couple of miles in the evening for a change. I commute by bike 1-4 days a week depending on schedules, with the other days using the car or bus.

Describe your bike and accessories: A Felt F2 carbon racing bike is used during the summer when I’m riding more miles. I carry a change of bike clothes for the afternoon ride in a backpack, and pick up office clothes during the weekend. I’ve decided that a backpack is more comfortable and manageable than a messenger bag, especially when riding in traffic. I keep a white and red blinkie light in my pack for late days at the office.

During the winter and when rainy, I use a Novara Fusion “City Bike” that is equipped with fenders, rack, Shimano Alfine 8-speed internal gear hub, Alfine dynamo hub and Basta front light, a blinkie light on the rear, and Cateye spoke-mounted blinkies (these are great). It is mostly factory-equipped, with the exception of pedals (SPD one-side) and better grips. It’s a tank of a bike and is comfortable for about an hour long ride or just poking around. I find the 8-speed hub a bit limited in the low range, especially if the baskets are loaded with groceries or laptop and books. I use an old pair of Jandd grocery baskets to carry clothes in a tote bag and the briefcase in the other. Luckily I have a storage room at the office, so I don’t necessarily have to carry a heavy lock, unless I plan to stop somewhere on the way home.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Don’t make commuting a chore. If you’re running late, and/or the weather is bad, don’t feel guilty about riding the bus or taking the car. And try not to get mad at the drivers that honk and yell – I’ll admit I’ve screamed back a few times – it doesn’t look good, and you feel dirty afterwards. Use your lights and give signals, and – very important – don’t be afraid to take the whole lane for safety on crazy busy or fast streets. I’m not very good about getting my things together the night before – I would be less rushed if I would!

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