Archive | February, 2014

Bike Commuter Journal – Accessorizing the Commuter Bike

26 Feb

2014-02-25-4370Let’s talk commuter accessories – those extra bits that let you enjoy your work life on the bike. At only two miles, it’s easy for me to bike in work clothes without overheating, especially in winter. Pictured hanging from the handlebar is helmet, safety glasses with rearview mirror, plus a reflective velcro leg band.

A handlebar bag is held with a quick release system, and is large enough for planner and personal effects, along with a small first aid kit and snacks – it has a shoulder strap and functions as a briefcase. We won’t talk about all the extra “stuff” that ends up rattling around in there. The same quick release system is on all my bikes, with several compatible bags and backpacks that can be attached.

Permanently attached to the back rack is a lockable plastic trunk box – both the handlebar bag and trunk box are dry in a rainstorm, and the box is large enough to hold dress shoes and the helmet. Inside the trunk box is a saddle bag (off my road bike), with spare tube, foldable tire and multi-tool, lives in the box along with a tire pump and bike lock. The pump can move to the handlebar bag if it’s rattling around too much in back.

The platform pedals don’t require special bike shoes, and this very cold and snowy winter I’ve enjoyed nice warm dry feet, thanks to rubber-covered neoprene shoes. If it’s dry and not too cold the dress shoes are OK to bike in.

Layers are key to commuting comfort – single digit temperatures or wet conditions bring out the rain pants, while a weather-proof shell parka and fleece mid-layer keeps the cold at bay. You can fine tune your comfort by having a variety of knit caps of different thicknesses (for under the helmet), as well as a waterproof helmet cover for rain. For your hands, the running companies make fleece liners and stretchy shell fabric mittens, which can then be used inside a larger waterproof mitten shell for very cold conditions. Bright colors and reflective trim add visibility on the road, a plus for outer layers.

In the next post we’ll look at how to handle winter conditions on your commute.

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Bike Commuter Journal–the Commuter Bike

19 Feb

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This post marks the debut of a new series for On the Move, based on bicycle commuting. As a longtime cyclist but a newbie bike commuter, I’ll look at the issues faced by those who want to explore bike commuting as a fun, healthy and sustainable lifestyle choice.

Let’s assume for the moment that you know why you want to bike commute, but want to know what bike is right for commuting? The great news is that any bike will do, especially for short distances over relatively flat terrain.

Some vital components necessary for commuting safety and comfort may be missing though on typical recreational bikes; such as a kickstand, fenders, bell and lights. Fortunately, reasonably priced after-market choices are readily available from your local bike shop or online.

Since I’ve enjoyed my various bikes for many years, however, I bought a new, full-featured commuter bike (pictured). The bike features a relatively light and stiff aluminum frame, fixed fenders, a light capacity rear rack, disc brakes and gearing for hills, and includes a sturdy kickstand and a bell. Most of all, I wanted the electricity-generating front hub that powers permanently mounted front and rear LED lights.

The lights are key to enhancing visibility on the road, since most motorists don’t expect cyclists, and as a commuter I don’t have the advantage of riding in a group, as on a club ride. The front light is powerful enough to see the road at night, and I won’t need to worry about battery life.

And don’t underestimate the utility of fenders…just one ride in the rain or snow and you will understand their benefit!

In the next post I’ll address some additions to the bike, but in the meantime please feel free to comment!

Love In Transit

3 Feb

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This much I know is true—you do not fall in love while driving alone in your car.

Love gets its own special day this month!  Cupid’s arrow can strike in unlikely places–and public transit is one of them.  Love connections are made and soul mates are found on trains and buses and subways. Yes, it’s a plot line that Hollywood rom-coms are known for, but it’s also the stuff of real life stories.    And we are certain that some of you have a story to share.  Have you found love on light rail?  Wedded bliss because of the bus?  Romance on the rails?

Share your stories with us!  We’d LOVE to hear them and feature them in an upcoming blog on Valentine’s Day.  Your story could win you a $75 gift card to treat your special someone.  Send your love story to GMTMA tma@gmtma.org by February 10th.

Romance… just one more great reason to ride public transit!