Wednesday, December 2

Commute Year

It’s early December and, between the weather, “use it or lose it vacation” time, and the year end holiday, 2009 is mostly done in terms of bike commuting. Rather than waiting for the very end of the month, I thought I’d do my “year in review” now. There were several milestones, including a new commute bike, a work location change, launch of this blog, a few fairly prosaic events, and the obligatory mileage milestone.

Buddy as received
Recent Buddy shot
Having commuted throughout 2008, I concluded in January that it was appropriate to acquire a dedicated commute bike, partly as a treat. I selected the commute bike based on a targeted amortized running cost of 10 cents per mile, combined with being fun to ride, and making the mileage I need to make when commuting. I’ll do another post summarizing how I’m doing in this regard later. For now, I’ll just note that 10 cents per mile is easy to achieve if you get your bike from a dumpster. It is tougher if you’re going to be using a new bike with better than average capabilities. It might not be possible if you’re going to try to commute on a high end custom bike, or if you have a shorter ride and you buy a nice “transportation” bike. Certainly, for my particular commute (YOUR commute will surely be different), Buddy is a superior choice over so-called “urban transportation bikes.” Simply put, Buddy gets the job done over the distance it has to go and “urban” bikes don’t. I think if I say anything more on this topic in this post, “they” will be after me with pitchforks and torches! Remember, if you’re reading this and getting warm under the collar, it’s not YOUR bike I’m saying doesn’t measure up! If I had a short commute, or no secure place to park, I would have made a different choice.

Alliance Move
Over Easter weekend, our program moved from Haltom City to Fort Worth Alliance Airport. The new commute is documented in the six-part series, here. Much to my surprise, the increase in riding distance has not dropped the frequency that I ride to work. The problem with cycle commuting is time, not distance. It’s an observation John Forester made in Effective Cycling that has proven to be completely on target. Whether or not you bicycle commute ultimately may come down to “can you afford the time it will take?” So far, for me, the answer has been “yes.”
The buffalo just east of Alliance Airport

I got a taste of blogging earlier this year, through the kind graces of PM Summer over at Cycle*Dallas. However, I’m not really a “policy-planning-advocacy-principles wonk” and so I launched this blog in June. On occasions, such as here, I do stray into advocacy and policy stuff, but mostly, I stick to the nuts and bolts of getting from point to point around North Texas or other places I happen to find myself. Regardless of one’s views toward the “ideal bicycling world” or “cycling rights,” we’re here and we either deal with it or are limited by it. I can’t say I’m a fan of all the places I ride, such as here or here, nor am I a fan of discriminatory laws, but mostly bicycling is safe and FUN. If it stops being either safe OR fun, I’ll stop riding. Millions of Americans have proved bike riding is not required to sustain life. In the meantime, paraphrasing my favorite ski sticker; “If hell freezes over, I’ll ride there too.” What’s more, I’ll probably make a post about Satan’s big red pickup truck, and whether he passed me safely & legally.

This blog's masthead

There were a few commute riding events during the year, none of which really rose to the level of being “spectacular.” These include getting pulled over by a Fort Worth policeman during “Ride Your Bike to Work Week,” here, falling on a Keller MUP, here, a serial honking harasser, here, and that’s about it. Fortunately, “ol stinky” did not rise to the level of becoming an “event.” Instead of a thrilling “death rides on my leftvideo, my video was about bus lanes. I’m an engineer. Everyone knows engineers are BORING! Mostly, there are snippets of things observed along the route. In late September, prompted by an “Andy post” at the  Carbon Trace blog, I started my “honking project” and will do a quarterly update in the future. For now, I’ve accumulated three honks in roughly 1000 miles (about 10000 motorist interactions).

I got to go to a special session of bicycle school, but have STILL not succeeded in getting bikedfw to come through and actually HOLD the Traffic 101 course I paid for back in March. No, I don’t want a refund. I want to TAKE the course! People tell me we need more bike education and I just roll my eyes. We need to start by having ANY bike education. I don’t think Richard and Dorothy are going to get it done all by themselves. Hmm, maybe I ought to reread the “blog” paragraph before piling soap boxes any higher. Yeah, we need better advocates.

Mileage Milestones
I hit two cycle commute mileage milestones in 2009. In November, I hit 5000 bike commute miles for the year, and shortly thereafter, I hit 4000 miles for the new FW Alliance commute. If I believe the cycle computers, I did another one or two thousand miles of non-commute riding. For the first time in my life, I’m looking at consumables such as tires, chains, brake pads and such in terms of miles to replacement rather than calendar time. One other milestone – annual mileage on the Land Rover is down. I suggested to my wife that we see if the insurance company wouldn’t float us a discount on that basis. If we get a reduction, I’ll certainly document that event.

Wrap Up
All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for bike commuting. I hope yours has been as good.


Chandra said...

wow - great job, steve! congrats!!
ps. i want to see'em buffalo

Apertome said...

Souuds like you had quite a year! Man, that's a lot of miles ... keep up the good work.

Big Oak said...

First off, you made a great choice for a new bike. Second, you rode a bunch of miles. Third, you saved a tremendous amount of CO2. Great job!

Steve A said...

Big Oak clearly has exquisite taste in bikes. I'll have to wander over and see what bike he chose for himself. As for his other two observations, the miles just pile up as a result of the commute, and I'll do a future post on the commonly believed myth that cycling saves CO2...

Keri said...

3 honks in 1000 miles... I'm so envious.

The week of Nov 16, I rode just over 100 miles. I lost count of the honks and yells—well over a dozen. Last week Mighk and I rode ~20 miles one day and got honked at a half dozen times. Four honks in less than 2 miles on a 4 lane collector road at about 2 PM.

Not a single of the above honks were on 2 lane roads or invoved any impediment to the perpetrator. 80% of them were from motorists who were entirely unaffected by my presence.

I think I want to move to North Texas.

Steve A said...

Some honking frequency is the roads chosen. I prefer a good balance between a direct commute and low stress. Over Thanksgiving I wasn't riding many miles because I was sick but I picked tougher miles. No honking but it was just good luck and selection of the right gaps in traffic. The three honks appeared in the first 280 out of the 1000 miles.

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