1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Utility Bicycling

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Fifi, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. Fifi

    Fifi New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    52
    Loc:
    Near Heathrow UK
    Anyone else into trying to save on petrol/deisel cut down their carbon footprint by cycling to work/shops?

    I confess I don't do as much as I could. I work as a temp and one of my regular jobs is only about a mile from home which is great so I cycle to work there.

    I also live about a mile from town so apart from my big supermarket shop I like to use my bike for trips to shops/doctor/dentist etc. I often end up with my bike overloaded on these trips so am looking into getting a bike shopping trailer. I think I've sourced one that will fit my bike and doesn't cost the earth. Would appreciate input if anyone had tried a trailer.

    The best thing about the bike is the easy parking and not having to worry about a parking meter ticking away.

    Fifi

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Messages:
    1,022
    Loc:
    Missouri Ozarks
    Try a large basket on the bike with a backpack for you. Much more flexible and convenient. Parking is going to be a problem for a trailer at most bike racks, etc. Bike parking like car parking is designed with some thought. Trailers in either case are not typically in the design standards. Of course your local circumstances would dictate.

    Millions of people in Japan commute and shop with bikes. If you are going to operate in the winter, get some of those cool handlebar mittens they use in Japan. I used a bike nine miles to work for two/three years. Mainly for stress relief and cardio. Fortunately, I had a good safe route, mostly free of cars. And facilities at work to keep clothes and shower.
  3. karl

    karl Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    Messages:
    1,057
    Loc:
    Huntington, West Virginia
    I do something similar to save money but i use a motorcycle. I don't use a trailor. I use a tank bag. There are tons of luggage. Options for motorcyles. I would look there. Maybe motorcyclesuperstore.com
  4. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Nope, don't even own a bike. Work is ~80 miles round trip.

    I do drive a 45mpg car though. I rarely bother to use the car to go shopping... usually end up buying something that I need the truck to haul back home.
  5. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    816
    Loc:
    Central NY
    I biked to work year round for about 10 years - sold my car about 1 year into it and my wife and I owned a single car. I mostly got around even on weekends by bike, and pretty quickly learned what I needed for my bike to get to work and do most of my errands.

    1. Get a good light system - NiteRider is the best. A good light system will make cars dim their high beams for you. Use this even during the day if you cycle in traffic.
    2. Get an LED flashing light for the rear.
    3. You'll figure out what clothes you need as it gets colder - it happens gradually, and you'll determine how cold is too cold and then you'll buy the right gear to keep going. My all-time low temperature for riding was -21 degrees F. I don't recommend riding in temperatures this cold, but -16 degrees wasn't too bad....
    4. I wouldn't use a trailer. Get a rear rack and a good set of panniers - Jandd makes good panniers. You'll pay more for good panniers, but the zippers won't break and they won't fall off the bike rack while riding.
    5. If you must use a trailer, consider a single wheel trailer. At least the single wheel won't force you into traffic like a two wheel trailer will.
    6. Get a good, solid rear-wheel for your bike. You need this with the loads you'll be carrying with your panniers. The stock wheel that comes with your bike will soon go out of true (and go out again and again) with the loads on the rear of the bike due to the bike rack and panniers. This is a pain in the neck, and you don't want this, so just get a good wheel right up front. Mavic makes good strong wheels.
    7. They used to make studded tires for winter riding. Great for icy roads. Don't try to corner too fast on dry or wet pavement. None of your friends will believe that you have studded tires on your bike, and it is a great conversation starter.
    8. I road year round in all conditions in my 20s. I'm older and not so aggressive now. Choose your limits carefully. Wear a helmet. If it's cold, use a helmet cover - that will do more to keep you warmer than any amount of gloves or boots will do.
    9. If you ride any distance >5 miles when the temperature is near 32 degrees F, put a plastic bag down your pants over your private area. This will prevent frostbite. Yep, you heard me right, it happens, and trust me, you don't want to be standing by the side of the road with your hands down your pants trying to warm things back up.

    If all of the above sounds like a lot of money, just add up the cost of driving a car for a year, including insurance. If you can do without a car for a year, you will save a ton of money, and you will be in amazing shape.

    Good luck. Let us know how you do.
  6. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,477
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    DBoon - great advice, little to add. I road bike year 'round in Minneapolis, MN, for years; through some of the coldest and snowiest weather you could believe. Then a Category 1 USCF road racer for years; training rides outside during winter in all but the coldest weather. Need very good equipment, but need an even better mind-set. Really helps if you don't own or have access to a car and there is no good public transportation available.
  7. Fifi

    Fifi New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    52
    Loc:
    Near Heathrow UK
    Thanks for the replies, well it doesn't get that cold here in the UK :) the coldest I've ridden in is minus 1 C.

    I already have rack and panniers, but I usually end up with just a bit more shopping than will stuff into them lol. I agree they are good. I usually park up and lock to railings and there would be plenty space for the trailer in my normal spot, the route into town isn't too tricky and I think would ride ok towing trailer.

    Got LED lights, got winter cycling clothes, not needed to stuff any bags down pants yet lol.......mind you I am female so erm well less bits to freeze lol.

    I ride quite often for leisure off road and wheels are reasonably strong thanks.

    Have to admit won't be getting rid of the car completely.

    Would love to try ice stud tyres but we don't get enough ice most of the time to warrent the purchase. Was quite cold last winter though, more snow than usual and got some ice spikes to fit on my shoes which were great for walking. That's what prompted me into looking at wood burners/opening up the fireplace. My neighbour had open fire going and it was nice and cosy in her house.

    One thing I've found good is silk glove/sock liners when it's really cold, but it looks like some of you will regard my really cold as rather warm lol.

    Fifi
  8. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    816
    Loc:
    Central NY
    Hi Jebatty - CAT1, I'm very impressed. Nice work. I have to say that if I had a car I wouldn't have done half of the crazy things in the winter that I did on my bike. I definitely wouldn't have ridden in -21 deg F weather (brrr) and I certainly wouldn't be able to tell the story about being stopped not once, not twice, but three times by NY State Troopers on my way in to work one morning (I didn't see what the problem was - after all, I had studded tires and chains on my wheels and they didn't). Good times.
  9. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2008
    Messages:
    6,770
    Loc:
    Syracuse NY
    I permanently mount a front fender in the winter. One of the hand pump deck sprayers is nice to clean off the bike with warm water if they salt in your area.
  10. Fifi

    Fifi New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    52
    Loc:
    Near Heathrow UK
    After much searching (there's not enough room for me to fit a seat post fixing trailer (saddle down ...not very tall) I think I have sourced a trailer with a screw hitch that can easily transfer between bikes which is what I wanted, at a reasonable price.

    In my search a found a site called Tony's Trailers it's a US site so some of you might like to look....some really amazing custom trailers to tow almost anything!! (no I'm not getting one of them).

    We don't have much snow here but do have lots of rain/mud so I have front crud guards and rear carrying racks that have a solid platform that act as mud guards.

    Fifi
  11. sullystull

    sullystull Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    296
    Loc:
    WV Mountains
    If you are in to buying a new bike, look at the Big Dummy by Surly Bikes. It can haul some goods...just a thought.
  12. Fifi

    Fifi New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    52
    Loc:
    Near Heathrow UK
    Hope this photo upload works, here's the new trailer, did my first trip into town with it today, was a bit scared by it was easy.

    [​IMG]

    Fifi
  13. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    Stick to trails - roads are just too unsafe.

    Those of your riding out there, be careful!
  14. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Messages:
    602
    Loc:
    Lothian, MD
    We lived int he Cotswolds for two years (Wyck Rissington, near Stow on the Wold). Took my them 2 year old daughter on trailer rides. I'll never forget the time when we were 1/2 way back from the Coltswold Farm Park that she got too cold (you don't generate a lot of heat just sitting there). This was basically before cell phones and there were no shops around. She just toughed it out while I rode the rest of the way, then into a warm bath. I wish I could ride to work, but it is 47 miles each way by car, more by bike. Maybe when my office moves 15 miles closer I'll think about it ;-)
  15. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,477
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    That's like asking someone with a car to stick to driving only on private parkways or long driveways, none of which go anywhere. Trails also are great if you don't want to go anywhere, but if the goal is serious transportation, then the roads must be used, because roads go where people want to go, trails go nowhere. Bicycles are not toys for little and big kids to play with. Utility bicycling is not about exercise or recreation, as good as those are. Bicycling is about transportation, about traveling to and from work, about picking up the groceries, going to the hardware store, visiting the library, seeing the dentist.

    And it's not the roads that are unsafe, it is the people driving cars who are unsafe, inattentive people, incompetent people, self-centered people, and just plain dangerous people, all behind the wheels of 2000+ lb missiles. Everyone driving a car should have a physical and eye exam every few years, along with a written and road competency test including rush hour traffic, expressway driving, driving at night on a moonless night in heavy traffic and the rain; as well as simple maintenance, like checking the oil and other fluid levels, putting air in the tires, changing the wiper blades, changing a flat tire; and including a psychological exam to test mental attitude, anger management, courtesy, etc. Not only would the roads then be "safer" for bicyclists, they also would be safer for other drivers, pedestrians, dogs and cats, and the drivers themselves.
  16. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520

    I agree in principle with most of what you say. My roomates from grad school would have agreed with you as well. One got hit and killed while riding, the other didn't fare so well with an encounter with a GMC Yukon - he went from routinely doing century rides, multiple half iron mans under his belt, and training to qualify for an iron man to living a largely sedentary lifestyle for the past 15 years. People should be attentive and all that, but reality is they never will be so all the shoulda coulda woulda in the world won't make you any safer. The reality of the situation is that if you want to ride on a road you are chosing to engage in a transportation system not really designed for you - right or wrong it's car-centric.

    I would disagree with you about roads themselves being unsafe. Larger shoulders or dedicated bike lanes would be great for making the roads themselves safer for bike commuters.
  17. Fifi

    Fifi New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    52
    Loc:
    Near Heathrow UK
    I like the trails for my leisure cycling, we have a canal towpath nearby. Most trails are designed for recreation which is nice but not to get you anywhere in particular I agree. The towpath is not bad though. I confess I do sometimes drive my bike to the nearest forest and ride the trails and love it but I also want to use my bike for every day stuff too. The route into town is mostly smaller roads designated cycle friendly (sometimes they aren't) combined with the odd short piece of actual cycle lane. I'm a temp so work different places, when I'm at the local university I go by bike as it's not too far. Other places further away I use the car. One place I wouldn't want to cycle to as that uses busy main roads but I admire the cyclists that are brave enough to ride the big roads.

    I was a tad nervous my first trailer ride but it felt more stable than weighed down panniers and the traffic mostly gave me plenty of room.

    Fifi
  18. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    I live in NEOhio and can ride a marvelous towpath 10 minutes from home.

    In-town riding is probably safer - for me, commuting would entail 13 miles on mostly 2-lane back-country roads with a 45mph speed limit (meaning most folks are going at least 50) and no shoulder. This time of year it's dark when I leave in the morning and dark when I come home, so biking would be way to risky. Morning would be the worst with the high-school crew all speeding to school while texting.
  19. sullystull

    sullystull Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    May 7, 2008
    Messages:
    296
    Loc:
    WV Mountains
    You needed the cart before the bike. :)

    Attached Files:

  20. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2009
    Messages:
    816
    Loc:
    Central NY
    Hi timfromohio, it's unfortunate about your roommates from grad school. If you ride on the roads, you need to be smart - obey the rules of the road and be predictable - act like any other vehicle. It can be safe to be on the road.
  21. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    DBoon - just be safe out there!

Share This Page