Bicycle Commuter Profile: Tomio

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Tomio
Location: Seattle, WA
Started bike commuting: 2009
Commute distance (one way): 4.5 miles

Describe your commute: Mostly flat on an multi-use path.

Describe your bike and accessories: Gunnar Sport with Ultegra components, bar end shifters, brooks saddle, VO aluminum fenders, and 700×28 panaracer paselas. I usually don’t carry much to work, so I don’t use a rack and panniers.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Ease into it. Start off with commuting 1-2 times per week and driving the rest. As you adapt, increase your frequency until commuting becomes habitual rather than a task. Reward yourself every once in a while by driving. Watch out for drivers. You may have the right of way, but your safety comes before that.

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Forrest Halford

Name: Forrest Halford
Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky
Started bike commuting: 11/2003
Commute distance (one way): 4.7 miles

Describe your commute: The first mile runs to work (and the last one home) runs along the Barren River in Bowling Green, and I’m blessed to have such a beautiful start and end to my work day. Our city has numerous back roads and the attitudes here seem to be kind. I rarely encounter the type of angst I hear about from other parts of the country, but then again, I can travel to work at a large university (Western Kentucky University) and some days encounter less than a handful of cars. I have not driven to work this year, and I’ve only used an auto to shop for groceries once. I consider myself lucky to be able to do this. I know it isn’t possible for everyone.

Describe your bike and accessories: Catrike Expedition and Bacchetta Giro 26. Rainy days I use a ‘beater’ hybrid with planet bike fenders and horribly neglected drivetrain along with a Carradice rain cape and spats. I have a set of studded tires for when ice/snow show up and they work well. Add a burley trailer for shopping with the trike and Dinotte lights (transferrable to any bike) and I’m set.

Yes, they are nice bikes, but it’s not WHAT you ride, it’s THAT you ride.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: When you think you need something, wait. If after some time you still need that thing, try to buy used and buy the best of whatever ‘thing’ it is that you need. Expensive now often equals cheap in the long run.

Once you’ve made the committment, the particulars will fall in place with a predictable learning curve. Expect to make mistakes but be sure to learn from them.

Finally, enjoy. You’ll have a window to the world unlike any other.

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Bob Gravenor

Name: Bob Gravenor
Location: Co.Kildare, Ireland
Started bike commuting: 2011
Commute distance (one way): 8.5 miles

Describe your commute: First 4 miles narrow rural roads, then 1/2m through a town centre. onto a train to dublin, then take on the city traffic for another 4 miles. If the weather is pleasant I’ll go for a 10mile spin at lunch too.

Describe your bike and accessories: I have several bikes, each designed for a different purpose. which machine I ride depends on mood, weather conditions, load, and what time I leave the house. The usual suspects are a restored 1976 Raleigh Stowaway (the folding version of the Raleigh twenty). A 2003 Claud Butler Milano Racer, or a restored 1986 Dawes Super-Galaxy tourer. When it’s sub-zero I use a 2008 Trek 3900 MTB fitted with Schwalbe Ice Spiker tyres. I also have several other bikes, which are usually used for leisure runs. I love restoring and maintaining old bikes and components as much as I love to ride them.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Get water/windproof clothes, and don’t chicken out in bad weather. You’ll find it’s a good part of the fun. If you can, it’s good to have a spare bike. That way if something breaks, you can still cycle. Learn to maintain your own bike – it’s enormously satifying, and much quicker, easier and cheaper compared to reliance on someone else.

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Vito

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Vito
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Started bike commuting: 2006
Commute distance (one way): 22.5kms

Describe your commute: My commute includes mainly on road, with and without bike lanes, and bicycle/shared path. Melbourne is quite a good city for cycling with some good infrastructure and motorists are mainly considerate and careful. My commute is mainly flat but I occasionally do some hills on the weekend and have done a couple of short tours (the photo was taken recently in the Victorian Alpine area)

Describe your bike and accessories: I ride a Raleigh Randonneur equipped with 28c Panaracer RibMo city tires, SKS mudguards and a pair of Karrimor panniers. The tires are comfortable to ride on all road surfaces and weather conditions as well as being very puncture resistant. It has a triple crankset which makes it an ideal bike to load up and get away for the weekend as well as a good commuter.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Start off small and build up. Combine your commute with other forms of transport, eg train, until you have built stamina and confidence.

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Béatrice S.

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Béatrice S.
Location: Palaiseau, Essone, France
Started bike commuting: In March, 2010
Commute distance (one way): 5 miles / 8 km

Describe your commute: I live in a suburbian town in the south of Paris, at the edge of the grey over-urbanized suburbs and the countryside. Every morning, I ride downhill from the hill I live on, until the other side of the valley, through my town, in an urban environment, then a little bit of countryside alongside a little river, on little roads, with fields, and then back in town on a separate bicycle lane.

Describe your bike and accessories: I have three bikes. A Giant CRS 3 City W, equipped with fenders & rack, I have installed lights: a dynamo-hub Shimano DH-N30 plus a Busch & Muller Cyo Lumotech IQ RT light ahead and a Toplight Plus light on the rear (all lightened by the dyn-hub), and a basic cycle computer, and a rearview mirror. I also have an Giant Twist Freedom W electric bike to carry loads, and an old steel bike I use to tour on vacations.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: It’s not that hard to move… no need to be a Marathon racer. Everybody can do it.

Bicycle Commuter Profile: Katie

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Katie
Location: Madrid, Spain
Started bike commuting: May 2011, though I’ve been using my bike to get around town (just not to work) since 2009
Commute distance (one way): 10 kilometers

Describe your commute: I was slow in deciding to commute by bike because I have very good public transport options to get to the school where I work just outside Madrid. But then a group of cyclists in Madrid decided to help people plan their bike routes to work and try them out on the weekend. I jumped at the opportunity. They showed me a route using quieter streets and since the day I started I haven’t looked back.

I cross Madrid from south to north, and, rather than using the Paseo de la Castellana–the multi-lane traffic-clogged artery that extends the distance of my commute, I climb some hills through beautiful Retiro Park and then use a series of smaller streets that run parallel to the Castellana. I go through some of the nicest neighborhoods in the city, around several good roundabouts, and have plenty of lights to wait for. Once I’m at the northern end of Madrid, I lock my bike and catch a bus for a quick 15-minute ride the rest of the way (highway).

My morning ride is steadily uphill so the way back, which uses similarly quiet streets on the other side of the Castellana, is a nice downhill cruise. I ride right past Santiago Bernabéu stadium (home of Real Madrid) and the national congressional building. The way in takes me 50 minutes and the way home about 45, which is a bit longer than using public transport the whole way, but so worth it.

I aspire to ride all the way to school in the near future, so I can avoid the traffic jams that sometimes I catch on the bus, but there are some tricky spots near the school that I have to work out how to navigate.

Describe your bike and accessories: This summer I was in Berlin and fell in love with the bikes at a shop called Boetzow Rad Berlin and came home with one. They use Velo de Ville models (mine is the T25), and then customize them. I swapped out the gear shifters for rapid fire and upgraded to an 8-gear Nexus internal hub rather than the 7. The bike came with a rack, SKS fenders, a hub dynamo, and Schwalbe Marathon Allround tires.

I use a Detours Toto pannier, which is sometimes filled to bursting with books and exams. I also add weight with two heavy-duty locks–I’ve already had one bike stolen in this city and am not ready to part with this one–one is an OnGuard Bulldog DT and the other is an Abus Granit X-Plus. So far the locks seem to have scared off any potential thieves.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Well, though I’m relatively new myself, I’ve learned a thing or two in these months. I’d say you have to be confident. Stand your ground. Be seen. Signal. Respect other drivers and they’ll respect you. Treat pedestrians as you’d like to be treated. Try not to get too worked up when you cross paths with a jerk. Be careful in the rain, and don’t feel obligated to ride daily–it should always be something that makes you happy. You’ll probably find that it quickly becomes an addiction.

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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