BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: Bike Commuters

Helmet conditioned me…

This morning I had to drop of Priscilla’s car at the dealership to get some warranty work. They have a shuttle service but I brought my Redline 925 so I can ride it back home. As I unloaded my bike I realized that I didn’t bring my helmet.

The dealership was a good 9 miles from my home and I had to ride on some busy streets. As I rode my bike home I did feel very insecure not having my helmet on. I felt naked without it. Kinda like how it feels when you forget your watch or wedding ring.

Anyhow, I realized that my insecurity was caused by my years of wearing a helmet. Let me explain, when I’m on my bike I always wear a helmet. Now that I didn’t have one on my head, all I could think about was my head getting bashed in. But when I am wearing a helmet, I don’t even think about it. So perhaps when I don’t wear my helmet, I’m more distracted because I’m preoccupied with nasty thoughts of my noggin getting mushed on the ground.

What’s the moral of the story…don’t forget your helmet. Cuz if you do, all you’ll think about is your helmet. Which makes you distracted and paying less attention to the road ahead.

D-Tour Safety Flag Update

Last month, we posted a first impression of the D-Tour Bicycle Safety Flag. For those of you who missed the article, the flag itself is made of highly reflective nylon — fluorescent yellow-green for the body and silver for the stripes and trim. This fabric flag and “sock? fit over a springy metal arm. The flag “arm? appears to be made of stainless steel, and the attachment bracket is machined aluminum with plastic frame clamps. The flag comes with two pairs of two different sizes of Cateye plastic frame clamps and very clear and concise instructions for mounting the assembly. Once assembled and deployed, the flag device sticks out about 24″ to the side of the bike. It then folds straight back when not in use.

It’s really a clever and simple device. Better yet, it seems to work! We’ve ridden with these flags on the streets of California and Florida, and can honestly say that it seems motorists WILL give you a bit of extra room when you have this flag deployed. Another phenomenon I noticed while riding around the mean streets of Tampa is that motorists seemed to be less likely to turn left in front of me when the flag is extended. Apparently, the bright yellow flag captures more motorists’ attentions than a cyclist rolling full-tilt towards them! It was certainly a nice phenomenon to experience…I don’t know if it was the “placebo effect? or something, but I did notice it.

I must admit — intially, this is not something I would have bought for my bike. To be honest, I prefer less hardware and gadgets on my “fast commuter? bike…a couple of lights and a rear reflector are the only safety equipment it has on it. But, now that I have experienced the benefits of this flag, I am forced to reconsider. The flag retails at $20.00 + shipping — is that worth a couple extra feet of passing room from motorists? I think so!

Overall, this seems to be a great product — solidly constructed, reasonably priced, and surprisingly effective at its job. For more information or to purchase a D-Tour Safety Flag for yourself, please email developer Glenn Hanson at dtourltd(at)aol(dot)com.

Just Ask Jack — Still a Commuter?

One of our readers posted the following questions the other day:

“If you commute to work but bring all your work clothes on the Monday that you drive to work are you still considered a commuter? Lets say that you live oh…36 miles from you job and it takes about two hours to get there (one way) and you park your truck half way — is that still commuting to work?”

The way I see it, you are a bicycle commuter if you do even a portion of your commute via bicycle. I don’t care if you live 10 blocks or 20 miles from your job…as long as you bike, you qualify!!!

Bringing a load of work clothes on Monday (with the car) is a time-honored method many commuters use. It’s not cheating…merely a great way to make sure you look presentable at work. The other four days are on the bike, so don’t even feel guilty if you’re driving that one day…

Multi-modal commuting is quickly becoming a viable way for folks to reduce their impact on the environment, get some exercise and enjoy nature. Quite a few people bicycle to their nearest bus or train station, load themselves and their bikes onto said bus or train and get off at a station close to their jobs. Still others drive their cars partway and ride the remainder. I have a friend and coworker who takes the cross-Bay bus from St. Petersburg to Tampa (Hi David!) and rides his bike to work from the bus depot. He’s getting some fresh air, he’s reducing his impact on the environment and he is saving significant wear and tear (and expense) on his vehicle.

The bottom line is that there is no “one right way” to commute via bicycle. You’ve got to stick with what works for you and discard other methods. Now get out there and ride!

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

Commuter Choices Week in Tampa Bay

Commuter choices week header

All this week, Bay Area Commuter Services is having their annual “Commuter Choices Week“, with festivities and bike rides throughout the Tampa Bay area. On October 1st, I attended their “Party on Poe Plaza”. There were representatives from local bike shops, bicycle/pedestrian planning organizations, the area’s two municipal bus services and many others in attendance.

part of the crowd

Even better, this event was attended by folks from the national, state and local governments. It was a veritable “who’s who” of Senatorial staff, Congresspeople, County Commissioners and planning chiefs — someone from U.S. Senator Mel Martinez’s office came and made a speech, our U.S. Congressional Representative Kathy Castor said a few words, and Hillsborough County Commissioner and all-around great lady Rose Ferlita gave the keynote address to the gathering.

Here’s Rose Ferlita (behind the podium at left) addressing the folks in attendance:
Rose Ferlita

Everyone in attendance seemed to agree that more work is needed in the Tampa Bay area to get people to use alternative forms of transportation. Although there was a lot of talk about “light rail” solutions, plenty was said about building bicycling infrastructure throughout the area. As this is the event’s 11th anniversary, it is apparent that the Tampa Bay area is really looking to change for the better — the event is better-attended every year and with all the politicians and planning professionals mingling with the crowd, good things CAN happen if we’re patient (and vocal!).

Oh, did I mention that Thunderbug, the mascot of NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning (2003 Stanley Cup Champions) also came to the event on his custom-made trike? Here he is:
Thunderbug

Going to this event also gave me the opportunity to talk with the organizer of Tampa Bay’s upcoming Bicycle Bash By the Bay, which the Bikecommuters.com team will be participating in. Stay tuned for more info on that event, which will take place on November 4th at the Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg.

Mistakes commuters make

Here’s a list of ‘DUH’ moments that I’ve had over 2 years of commuting to work on a bike.

* Forgetting my water bottle. -luckily I have a park mid-route so I was able to replenish.
* Not carrying a mini-pump and carrying empty C02 cartridges and getting a flat. – I ended up walking my bike home for 1/2 mile.
* Not carrying lights -One day I had to stay at work until it got dark outside, luckily, most of my commute was lit.
* Forgetting my helmet – It happened once, I felt naked riding without it
* Daydreaming while riding – I spaced out, hit the sidewalk with my pedal almost eating it. Luckily my MTB skills saved my ass.
* Leaving my pannier attachment on another bike – I was lucky that I had a bunch of bungee cords on my truck and strapped my pannier to the rack.
* Forgetting my truck keys at work – Let’s just say that my wife was not too happy.

Feel free to share your ‘DUH’ moments, it’s OK, nobody is perfect.