Commuting for beginners

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby GraemeL » Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:56 am

I have taken the front and rear reflectors off our bikes. We have lights and use them all the time. If we get stopped I will argue that lights replace reflectors :)

Please use lights, it may just save your life.

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby fatherofmany » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:10 pm

I've taken reflectors off because 1 they look tacky and 2 they take up valuable bar real estate. BUT I replaced them with 3M reflective tape, red on the rear stays and white around each fork and a stripe down the headset. It lights up so much brighter than those tiny little plastic reflectors and as an added bonus, it reflects from the sides too, not just front and back. If your battery suddenly dies or your light shorts, there aren't many on the market that have built in reflectors that keep the legal eagles satisfied. There have also been cases where people were denied insurance claims (and one at least found at fault - or contributary) because they were riding bikes without the legally required lights/reflectors, so I want to be covered legally.

It's also a legal requirement to run lights at night. I also run Tioga dual eyes on the rear of all my bikes, really bright and you can't avoid seeing them. On the front I have a Knog white blinkie so they can see me and a 1W LED torch on a handlebar mount so I can see stuff.

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby waramatt » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:23 pm

I got pulled up by an old guy a few weeks ago in a quiet street around sunset. I thought he was going to attack me for something, but he just wanted to compliment me on being the most visible cyclist he'd ever seen. I believe in:

1. Lights, front & back, up and down and flashing at different frequencies
2. High visibility clothing and backpacks
3. Headlight lamps (front, white) and lights (rear, red)

Obviously I'm a giant dork, and not the slightest bit fashion conscious, but it gives me some sense of security, and based on the old guy's feedback, I'm noticed by drivers. You'll never see me wearing dark grey or black lyrca....it's hi viz yellows and oranges all the way for me.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby MattyK » Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:23 am

These are nothing new but here are my tips for commuting. (Note I don't have to worry about locking my bike, there is a cage at work)

* Get puncture resistant tyres. No flats is better than learning how to fix them beside the road.
(Side issue, know where the nearest bike shops are on your route)

* Get muguards. You'll get caught in the rain unexpectedly some time, best to be ready for it. Rain is pleasant, road spray is not.

* Have a lightweight spray jacket with you at all times

* Panniers are nicer than a backpack. I use a fold-out Topeak MTX bag that can be quite small.

* Be seen. I have two Magicshine headlights (10W LED each) two 1/2 W taillights (flashing at different frequencies, very visible), and if it's dark I'll wear a reflective vest also (Bunnings special, but sewn in at the sides for a nicer fit, less flappy) or the aorementioned spray jacket (yellow, reflective piping). Shoes have reflectors, wheels have reflectors.

*Gloves, mostly for extra grip when it's wet.

* Avoid really busy roads, but on't compromise your route too much unless you love hills etc.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:37 am

Thanks guys. I have outfitted my bike with basic lights and one of those bike lock thingos you get at KMart. It will do until I find a bike store in either Pakenham or Dandenong (gee it's great living and working near railway stations)

I have started commuting to work in a sense - I ride to the station, take a train, and then ride to work

Bike riding is so much fun. I can't believe I waited until I was 29 to learn how to do it. :lol:

Here's a question for Melburnians. How are you supposed to 'carry' your bike on trains? It's easy on the VLine trains they have a little compartment for bikes and that's awesome. But on the regular Metro trains - what are you supposed to do? Block a door way? How do you get bikes onto trains during peak hour when they are totally crowded?
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Mulger bill » Sat Apr 30, 2011 1:25 am

Getting on a peak hour spark with yer scoot can be an exercise in frustration, avoid if possible.
If you must, go for cars 1, 3, 4 or 6 and head for the cab end, there's a little more space there.
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Comedian » Sat Apr 30, 2011 11:48 am

Mulger bill wrote:Getting on a peak hour spark with yer scoot can be an exercise in frustration, avoid if possible.
If you must, go for cars 1, 3, 4 or 6 and head for the cab end, there's a little more space there.


Mate - I have got utterly no idea of what you speak! None at all! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby trailgumby » Sat Apr 30, 2011 1:31 pm

cars = rail cars. The one at the end or those with a driver cab tend to be a little less crowded and/or more accessible.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Comedian » Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:38 pm

trailgumby wrote:cars = rail cars. The one at the end or those with a driver cab tend to be a little less crowded and/or more accessible.

Thanks :D
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby il padrone » Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:43 pm

GraemeL wrote:I have taken the front and rear reflectors off our bikes. We have lights and use them all the time. If we get stopped I will argue that lights replace reflectors :)

Please use lights, it may just save your life.

Reflectors (red rear) are legally mandated. Take a bright torch one night, switch on your tail-light then shine the torch at the rear of your bike (with reflector fitted) holding it near your eyes. You'll see the value of reflectors as the reflector drowns out your 'bright' tail-light.

Please use reflectors and your lights. Note: most rear blinkies do not have a reflector built into the lens. Some do - notably the old Vistalite Supernebula (no longer made)

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and also the new Cateye Reflex Automatic flasher

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Comedian » Sun May 01, 2011 7:09 am

So does the Radbot! I still think this is the best tail light I've come across. On my roadbike I fitted it and removed the reflector (no other spots) and it does both jobs well.

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Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby elStado » Sun May 01, 2011 1:09 pm

Nick - Pie Man wrote:Ah. Good thing I asked


Lights and reflectors are normally required by law, and by common sense/self preservation.

Go down to your LBS and pick up a decent set right now. The go online and buy yourself some spares/secondary blinky lights.

You can get some very cheap from places like DX, just cheap, simple LED blinky lights you use WITH your main lights in case there's a fault/battery issue etc.

http://www.dealextreme.com/p/white-red- ... -set-19033

http://www.dealextreme.com/p/2-led-3-mo ... 2032-44066

I have 2x rear and 2x front lights on both my bikes. Planet bike main lights and some DX cheapies as secondary.

waramatt wrote:it's hi viz yellows and oranges all the way for me.


I wear a hi-viz long sleeve shirt. However I have started to avoid it unless it is a particularly grey, gloomy day and my lights aren't as visible as at night.

Normally I just wear a regular white or coloured shirt with some black shorts or jeans. Why? Because I don't like the idea of "looking" like a cyclist and also I feel that wearing all the safety vi-viz gear is affirming to other people (in particular motorists who don't cycle) that cycling is an inherently dangerous activity and you have to look like a 'dork' to avoid being killed. I prefer to passively market cycling as a normal, easy, accessible activity that anyone can do- no hi-viz or special clothing required! More cyclists on the road is 100x better way for going about cyclist safety and presence than hi-viz clothing and 900+ lumen lights..

But yes, have reflectors, have a good set of lights and a backup (not only for visibility but also so you can see at night and not injure yourself), ride in a predictable and firm manner, obey road rules, thank motorists who make a conscientious effort to accommodate you on the road and most of all smile and show other people how you're having a great time. This is especially effective for all those salary slaves who sit in a car for hours each day commuting to work.. they see you having fun and being active and that might just get them over the line and start cycling too! 8)
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby GraemeL » Sun May 01, 2011 1:51 pm

il padrone wrote:You'll see the value of reflectors as the reflector drowns out your 'bright' tail-light.



So you are saying that a reflector is better and brighter than my lights? You use your reflector and I will use my lights!

Sheldon Brown http://www.sheldonbrown.com/reflectors.html

Just for the record, I have and use, day time and night time, two Planet Bike Blinkies and a PDW Radbot 1000 which has a built in reflector.

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby il padrone » Sun May 01, 2011 2:42 pm

GraemeL wrote:
il padrone wrote:You'll see the value of reflectors as the reflector drowns out your 'bright' tail-light.



So you are saying that a reflector is better and brighter than my lights? You use your reflector and I will use my lights!

Sheldon Brown http://www.sheldonbrown.com/reflectors.html

I know and agree with Sheldon's views. He is talking re. some US jurisdictions where cyclists and/or lawmakers have tried to allow reflectors as a substitute for rear lights. Very different to what I am suggesting.

The red rear reflector is much brighter in appearance when a car headlight shines on it, as then it is reflecting a 55W beam, compared to your 0.5W tail light beam. As I said earlier, even with a 3W LED torch shining on it, the reflector drowms out the 0.5W led light. Read my post - I am saying use a front and rear light and reflectors, in contrast to your statement:

GraemeL wrote:I have taken the front and rear reflectors off our bikes. We have lights and use them all the time. If we get stopped I will argue that lights replace reflectors


Just for the record I use good bright lights (powerful headlight and two tail lights) together with red rear reflector and clothes/bags with reflective patches.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby jasonc » Wed May 04, 2011 9:59 pm

Comedian wrote:So does the Radbot! I still think this is the best tail light I've come across. On my roadbike I fitted it and removed the reflector (no other spots) and it does both jobs well.

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that's a +1 from me
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby find_bruce » Wed May 11, 2011 12:17 am

I have just changed from using a 10w halogen light to two led (el cheapo magicshine & helmet mounted flashlight) & one thing I have noticed is how much more reflective things are with the LED - even the little stips on joggers shoes light up. I have also noticed how pedestrians who would ignore bells & lights on a shared path are keen to give you enough room when a very bright light is bearing down on them.

This is not just the brightness of the magic shine, even the AA led flashlight has road signs etc all brightly lit.

I found plenty of out of the way spaces to re-mount the reflectors & lets be honest, for a commuter bike, the 50 or 100 grams makes no difference.

So yes I say leave the reflectors on & use nice bright lights

Cheers

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby kodakmomentz » Fri May 20, 2011 12:25 am

Instead of starting a new post...I'm getting back into cycling to my new work which has a much more fancier shower and facilities than that of a shopping centre.

Should I just cycle the whole way or should I ease into it and break it down and get fitter as I go along?

The bus services to where I work have just been revised but still take longer than to cycle all the way which I think is funny.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Comedian » Fri May 20, 2011 6:33 am

kodakmomentz wrote:Instead of starting a new post...I'm getting back into cycling to my new work which has a much more fancier shower and facilities than that of a shopping centre.

Should I just cycle the whole way or should I ease into it and break it down and get fitter as I go along?

The bus services to where I work have just been revised but still take longer than to cycle all the way which I think is funny.


How far will be your commute? How is your fittness?

Do you know the best route? If it's a fair way then by all means go part way to start. Another option which might work for you is to ride in and then catch public transport home and back in. Then ride home the next day. :) It will obviously depend on your bike storage options. Good luck and keep us posted. :)
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby kodakmomentz » Fri May 20, 2011 9:26 pm

How far will be your commute?


About 20 kilometres each way

How is your fitness?


A 5 kilometre walk leaves me puffing.


I might try riding a full length to see how I go and how long it will take. I'm hoping under an hour. Ill take some bolt cutters with me so I can lock my bike up at the train station in an enclosed locker just in case.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby yellowhummer » Tue May 24, 2011 6:15 pm

i only commute in china

i have only one rule

i give way to anyone bigger than me and they often give way to me anyway

no helmets so its cool, pantene sure helps
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby MattyK » Wed May 25, 2011 1:32 pm

yellowhummer wrote:i only commute in china
i have only one rule
i give way to anyone bigger than me and they often give way to me anyway

That's better than most of the Chinese commuters I saw in Shanghai last year...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2szsCOb0UYw
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Thu May 26, 2011 10:48 am

My commute is thirty odd kilometers - Pakenham to Dandenong if you're interested - and I hope within the next month or so to be able to go the whole way.

Geez my options are limited though. The Hallam Bypass trail looks ok (would love to hear from anyone that uses it) but getting to Berwick from Paki is going to prove interesting. Not looking forward to playing on the shoulderless Princes Hwy, that's for sure
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby zero » Thu May 26, 2011 6:53 pm

MattyK wrote:
yellowhummer wrote:i only commute in china
i have only one rule
i give way to anyone bigger than me and they often give way to me anyway

That's better than most of the Chinese commuters I saw in Shanghai last year...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2szsCOb0UYw


An awful lot of reasonable road users in that vid, just a couple of pushy ones (distributed across all types). Can only imagine the motorist histronics if we had a similar intersection with a similar traffic mix in Sydney.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby gururug » Thu May 26, 2011 8:49 pm

I'd be really surprised if you got done for no reflectors if you have decent lights on front and back.

If there were legal / accident proceedings, it'd be a shame to be totally in the right and have someone get off one a technicality of you not having reflectors.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby elStado » Thu May 26, 2011 9:47 pm

gururug wrote:I'd be really surprised if you got done for no reflectors if you have decent lights on front and back.

If there were legal / accident proceedings, it'd be a shame to be totally in the right and have someone get off one a technicality of you not having reflectors.


It happens. It's one thing I am actually quite worried about, as one of my bikes doesn't have a rear red reflector (has 2x LED red lights instead) and another doesn't have the yellow wheel reflectors (it has yellow tire reflector stickers on the side walls). You can imagine that a crafty lawyer could work that loophole and make it that you are liable for an accident because you were missing a reflector and some fool rear-ended you.. even if you have a couple of bright LED lights instead.. :shock:
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