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Friday, April 6, 2018

My bike commute

In a fit of environmentally friendliness, I ditched my car and started commuting by bike. Not exactly ditched, I guess - I usually still drive two days a week. I definitely drive on Tuesdays, because I go to track and then the grocery store straight from work (I started piggybacking groceries onto track so that I only had one day when a car was required, although usually some other errand - or rain - makes me have to drive a second day).

I did a little research before diving in, and here is how my planning shook out:

My bike: Eh. It sucks. It's an $80 Walmart mountain bike, and it weighs a ton. Biking feels like swimming in quicksand, and it won't change gears. You can manually change them (like, move the chain by hand), but they flop right back into their favorite spot. I definitely need a bike upgrade. Maybe for my birthday?

My tires: This big old mountain bike has huge, heavy tires, and I added tire liners. I'm not at all interested in getting a flat, so they seemed like a good investment.  
My storage: I got a light chain with a combination, so it's easy and fast to lock up. It's not a very theft-proof chain, butI park it right outside the police station at work, so I doubt it will be stolen. When it's rainy, I put a plastic bag over the seat.
Expensive seat cover

My clothes: I bike in my regular work clothes except a different top, and change shirts at work. Once the summer heat starts, I'll probably have to wear shorts, too. So far I have been wearing normal work shoes, which include wedges, clogs, flats, etc. It's a slight challenge, but I've survived. Wooden clogs are definitely the hardest footwear!
My basket: Since I'm heading to work, I need storage. I attached a Wald adjustable basket to the front, and it fits my lunch bag and work bag. One complaint about this basket - the bolts come RIGHT OUT on bumpy roads. I had to replace them with bolts with lock nuts, which helped. Really, the basket should come with lock nuts!
My basket, all packed up

My helmet: I bought this adjustable helmet and I find it very comfortable. You can dial it to the perfect fit.
My work bag: I use a string backpack to throw my water bottle, keys, wallet, and shirt in. I don't mind if this bag gets dirty from road dust, plus in a pinch I can wear it as a backpack if I need to make more room in my basket (like if I run to the post office on the way home or something).
My bike bag: I have a little zippered bag with a few essentials in it, and when I get to work, I stop at the bathroom in the clinic and clean up a little. I don't know if this will be adequate in the summer, but for now, I freshen up with some sports wipes, and quickly do something with my helmet hair.

I use Elf wipes for a "missionary bath" as my mom
would call it; other essentials are hair elastics, body spray
in case the outdoors smell lingers in my hair, deodorant
(duh), and a comb. The Body Glide is because this is
also my track bag! 

 My route: Since I live uptown but work downtown, I have several route options, but they're all 5 to 6 miles and not all of them are safe. The routes with the most bike lanes, actually, have proven the least practical. My route of choice is about 40% bike lanes, but are along roads with light traffic and low speed limits, so I feel safe. From uptown, I use Broadway all the way to Fountainbleu, then Fountainbleu to Octavia, then Octavia to Jefferson Davis parkway. That whole section has no bike lanes, but mostly wide streets and safe drivers. I'm briefly on Jefferson Davis, which has a bike lane, and includes a horrid bridge that I can barely drag my heavy bike up, and then I turn onto Tulane ave.
I swear it's steeper in real life. Photo from Yelp.
The city recently added bike lanes to Tulane, and from there it's an easy straight shot to work. The entire commute takes me 32 minutes, including changing my clothes and cleaning up, so it's only a minute or two more than driving. And I consider that a win!


  1. That's awesome. I would love to avoid traffic and commute like that. Not possible with where my office is located though!

  2. Aw, this makes me happy! I'm jealous of your ability to bike commute. My ride to school is 25 miles, which is do-able on days I have school and my son doesn't, but those are rare. Even rarer are the days when decent weather coincides with the available ride days. And hills NEVER look as impressive in pictures!

    P.S. You definitely are due for an upgrade!

  3. Way to go! I used to bike to work when I lived downtown but it was just over a mile and I used the bike share program. So the bikes were stupid heavy and only had 3 gears but it was awesome to just dock it as they had stations close to work. I couldn’t believe how many people would see my helmet and ask if I biked to work. ?????

  4. I had a run commute for years, which I loved but ALWAYS required a shower when I got to work. I will occasionally do it now as a bike commute, but I hate biking with my laptop. If you can take multiple days of lunches when you drive (or the next day, since you shop when you drive), it will at least give you less to worry about on the other days.