1. I have a meeting to go to and its far.
2. I have a meeting and I need to dress nice (suit and stuff)
3. I need to pick up a big piece of furniture.
4. My tires are flat and I don’t have any tubes or patches.
5. It’s too hot.
6. It’s too cold.
7. It’s raining.
8. I’m running late.
9. I’m sore from yesterday’s bike commute.
10. I have to go to the grocery store after work.

I’m sure you folks have some other ones to add. So feel free to chip in your reasons why you have to drive.

Lance sent in the following question:

“I’ve been okay with traffic protocol except for this one thing. In the instance of a red light and there are several cars in front and in back of me, is it proper procedure to stop behind the car that’s in front of me as any other car would do or do cyclists have the right to pass everyone like a motorcycle and come to a stop right at the crosswalk?

I’ve been stopping behind cars so they don’t get p*ssed at me but I’m nowhere close to sure that it’s the right thing to do.?

Lance, first of all, it is NOT ok for motorcyclists to pass everyone on the right to get a favorable spot at the front of the line. This is a version of “lane splitting?, which is commonly practiced by motorcyclists (and a good number of bike commuters), but is absolutely illegal in most jurisdictions.

A technique for solving this traffic protocol riddle that I have found useful is to sneak up on the right until you are in the second or third position in line…and stop between cars rather than alongside one of the cars. Then, when the light turns green, you let the first and/or second car do their thing while you get up to speed, get clipped in to your pedals, etc. Oftentimes, that first or second car will make an unannounced right turn, so by hanging back for the first few seconds, you avoid the dreaded “right hook“. Once I’m rolling at speed, I try to hog the lane a bit (getting out into the middle of the lane and standing up) to prevent other motorists from trying to hook a right (or a left) in front of me until I am clear of the intersection.

I mention “sneaking up? on the right side of cars because I have found that doing it blatantly really pisses motorists off. If you do it slowly and steadily (being careful to avoid rearview mirrors and the like), you are less likely to step on any toes.

Regardless, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when passing on the right, particularly if there are any driveways or parking-lot entrances between you and the light. If there’s any spot where a car could conceivably turn right (into your path), be extremely cautious or forgo right-hand passing altogether. Better safe than sorry, I always say! Also, gauge the amount of room you have on the right — if you’re passing and you run out of room between the cars and the curb, you can get screwed pretty quickly. Finally, be wary of the rare but extremely painful right-hand “door zone? — someone suddenly getting out on the right-hand side and throwing their door open to step out onto the sidewalk will ruin your day in a heartbeat!

Blind adherence to motorist laws is as dangerous as being a total scofflaw. Please, use common sense and judgement for your own safety. If breaking a motorist law turns out to be safer for you, by all means DO SO!

Here are some collision avoidance tips from the folks at Bicyclesafe.com. Pay particular attention to collision types 3, 4 and 5.

And, since we here at bikecommuters.com are not lawyers, it is up to you, our readers, to check all applicable local laws for your situation. In some municipalities, passing on the right will get you a pricey ticket (or worse). Be safe, be smart and be aware!

Have a cycling-related question? Just Ask Jack! Click on the link in the right-hand column to send me your questions.

OYB Saddle Bag

Since I hate riding with a backpack, I thought of adding a saddle bag to my Swobo Sanchez. Brooks and Carradice offer a few saddle bags, but they are on the pricey side. So I found Jeff from Outyourbackdoor.com. He makes multipurpose bags out of old Military surplus canvas, best of all, this bag is made in the USA.

The saddle bag is compatible with my Brooks saddle and it is big enough to carry my shorts, a T-shirt, wallet and a tube. This saddle pack also has the ability to turn to a pannier bag, handlebar bag, a man purse and a back pack, talk about versatility!

The price? $35 bucks with S/H included, yeah, that’s it! I find it to be a good deal for an excellent USA made product. The material maybe recycled, and a little worn, but that just gives the bag a little more character.

Click here for more information and to purchase the bag.

Please welcome our new staff writer/product tester from Phoenix AZ, Jeff Rossini.

Some of you may followed his experiment aka ‘The Velorution’ on his blog. Although Jeff may not be a seasoned commuter, Jeff will be giving us an insight on how an avid cyclist can turn into a bike commuter. He’ll be sharing some of his stories hoping to inspire those that already ride a bike, but have not tried riding it to work.

Rick sent me the following question:

“I am going to be carless in a few weeks. I am a good cyclist and riding to work 4 miles one way is easy. I do have to wear a shirt and tie and dress slacks. How do I get to work without a sweat??

Rick, we’ve discussed “Beating the Heat? in other articles, such as this one. While nothing you do can guarantee you arrive to work absolutely sweat-free, you can certainly minimize the effects.

As for the problem of clothing, you could either carry week’s-worth stack of pressed shirts and pants to work on Monday via pannier or get a friend, coworker or spouse to drive a supply over. I don’t recommend wearing your fancy clothes to ride…I used to try riding with a tie on; only the chilliest days let me arrive to work without being sweaty. Wear something comfortable to ride in (performance-based clothing or a t-shirt and shorts) and find a place to change into more professional duds at work.

Fitness is a good thing to have on your side if you want to arrive to work sweat-free. If a four-mile commute is easy for you, your body won’t produce as much waste heat as someone less in shape.

Finally, use time to your advantage. If you can spare some extra minutes, ride slowly to work or arrive early and use the extra time to cool down, change and get presentable before the workday starts.

Good luck out there!

Have a cycling-related question? Just Ask Jack! Click on the link in the right-hand column to send me your questions.