How Long have you been commuting?
I started commuting regularly when I moved to Tucson Arizona in 2002. I rode about 18 miles each way. I'd shower at the University then head to my office. When I moved to Michiana, I refused to look at house that were more than 5 miles away from IU South Bend. I new I wanted to continue commuting but I didn't want a long ride in the snowy winters.
Why do you commute?
I started because I loved riding and didn't get to ride much because of my schedule. So I got in the habit of riding to work. It was my exercise and my relaxation. Now I do it for a couple of reasons. First, it's still fun and healthy. Second, it's good for the environment and good for my wallet. It only takes me about 6 minutes to get to my office on my bike. If I drive it takes about 8 and then I have to try and find parking space.
How far do you commute?
I only live 1 mile from the IU South Bend campus, so I have a short commute. There are days I miss the 18 mile ride I had in Tucson.
Do you commute all year?
Absolutely! I have two bikes and one, shown in the picture, is set up for winter riding. I have studded tires that lets me ride right over the ice. I figured it was safer to ride over the icy roads with studded tires than walk slippery sidewalks. It's not much fun when it rains, but I have the right clothing to keep me dry.
What type of bike do you ride?
I have two bikes I commute on. In the summer I ride a Redline 9-2-5 (get it, it's 9 to 5). It's a single speed that costs about $400. Virtually no maintenance needed and fun to ride. In the winter I ride a Konan Smoke. It's built for commuting and only costs about $350. I added a trunk on the back and studded tires. Since I work at IU South Bend, I've saved more than the cost of my bikes by not buying parking permits the last 3 years.
Do you have any tips for commuting?
Most people say they can't or won't commute for 3 reasons: they have to dress up at work, it takes too long, and it's unsafe. I don't commute in my "teaching clothes." I leave clothes at my office every week or so, or I carry my work clothes on the ride. I like to workout before I start my teaching day, so I ride in, drop my stuff in the office and then head to the Student Activities Center to work out. That way, I can shower there when I'm done. With a little planning, I think most people can select their clothes for the week and find a place to shower at or near work. As for taking too long or being unsafe, a commuting ride to work is usually not much longer than the drive and using side streets and bike lanes (where available) makes it pretty safe. My biggest tip is to just try it. Start riding one day each week. you'll be surprised how easy it can be.
What gear does a person need to commute?
There are really only three basic things you need to commute: a bike, a lock, and a helmet. Beyond that, it's all about personal preference. I'm an advocate for reflectors and lights (at least a flashing tail light). Beyond that, I personally leave a lock at work so I don't have to carry a heavy lock back and forth. I've also invested in nice clothing that keeps me warm and dry, it is also reflective. Remember, I ride all year and after dark. You might not do that, so you wouldn't need those things. Keep your tire pressure up and ride. Always wear a helmet!