Commuting for beginners

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Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:13 am

Any tips for someone who has never had to compete with trucks and bogans in utes before?

I have recently discovered the liberation and joy of riding a bicycle for the first time in my life and I am excited and would like to use the bike in place of the car as often as possible.

It seems to require a different skill set. Driving is easy - point and shoot. Riding a bike though I find that if I look at the ground I lose my balance and if I look at a car (as in 'dont hit that car') I invariably hit the car. The chap that helped me learn how to ride did say that you tend to go wherever your eyes are pointing. Does that sound right?

If so then does that mean that you must be using your peripheral vision to detect hazards? That may take some getting used to.

I assume it is legal to take bikes onto trains? Pakenham to Dandenong might be a little out of reach at the moment, I was blowing after half an hour around the neighbourhood last night.

How do you know where the bike paths are? Pathfinding would be radiacally different I guess since you are no longer restricted to driving on roads? Where would you go to find this stuff out?

Finally, does bicycle victoria or any other riding group or organisation conduct rider safety courses - the way murcott's do for cars - ? You don't just hit the road without any training do you? Or do you?

I am very new at this and would appreciate whatever help you can give me.
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by BNA » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:23 pm

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby deekrockingbeat » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:23 pm

http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/Mor ... leMaps.htm

1) pick your routes to minimise heavy traffic spots
2) ride defensive assume you are invisble to everyone
3) dont ride too close to parked cars
4) ride at least half a meter in from the gutter, claim the lane when you can
5) dont break any road laws,
6) do hook turns if you are not confident turning right.
7) park yourself on the left in the middle lane when there is a red but with a left green arrow.
8) be visible and be seen
9) ride consistently in predictable behavior, clear signalling

i live in port melbourne and i ride everywhere, only use the car when im going into the burbs, its great going to the footy dont have to worry about parking or public transport. enjoy riding! :D
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby jet-ski » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:54 pm

www.bikely.com for bike routes

practice looking over your shoulder on quiet roads while keeping the bars straight.,..

and it may look dorky but a lot of members here swear by their mirrors...
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:03 pm

Oh, thanks, that reminds me - the most important question of all. Is there 'bike parking' available at the MCG and Edihad? Is it safe and protected from thieving scum?
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby cp123 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:42 pm

just take 2 locks. Any thieving scum will think they don't want to mess about any more than necessary and will go on to the next one.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby deekrockingbeat » Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:58 pm

at docklands i usually park it near where all the motorbikes are, i just figure if they are there to steal better a motorbike than a bicycle. or otherwise park it near a bike better looking than your's. i think anywhere near a food stall or in the full view of apartments would be a good safe bet (which is easy at docklands)

at the G same theory goes i usually lock it near a stall or shop or in full view of the entance. ive been to a few reserves games at victoria park i usually take the front wheel into the ground. the two lock theory i also agree with.

and yes you can take a bike onto a train but use common sense when doing in peak hour. i believe u can also take fold up bikes onto tram and bus but someone needs to confirm this.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby trailgumby » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:15 pm

The best tip I can offer you is to subscribe to the Theory of BIG

So that you can score me, I ride:
    Bike with Panniers
    Bright fluoro yellow vest over my jersey
    Reflective panels on knicks and panniers
    2 blinking lights facing rear, one of which is a 1/2 watt unit
    Helmet and bar mounted retina-burning headlights that I use to go racing in the forest at night on my mountain bike
    Ride my bike (and position it on the road) exactly like I dive my car...
    ... which usually means ride either in the wheel tracks or the middle of the lane (with the exception of a few select locations where I have made the calculated choice to ride the footpath because of the high rates of encounter with openly hostile drivers).

What I really want is one of those pale blue jerseys with checkerboard pattern stripes and the Crimestoppers logo on the front and back. :lol:
Last edited by trailgumby on Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby westab » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:19 pm

jet-ski wrote:http://www.bikely.com for bike routes

practice looking over your shoulder on quiet roads while keeping the bars straight.,..

and it may look dorky but a lot of members here swear by their mirrors...


Agree with the all three of the above - I commute with a mirror and would not ride now without one, Bikely is also great.

On the practice front - quiet roads are great but another alternative are local netball courts when not in use (large flet area). Practice balance, bike control, looking behind, or whatever else.
The trick is to do it a slow speed as bikes are harder to balance when going slowly. If you can do it slow,you can do it at normal speed.

Good luck. Enjoy riding. :D
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:44 pm

I did notice that the faster I got the easier things seemed to become.

Will definitely look at getting some mirrors, I've driven enough to know how handy they are.

Is it possible to buy a crowbar attachment to belt hostile drivers with? Or is that something that might not be so legal?
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:49 pm

trailgumby wrote:The best tip I can offer you is to subscribe to the Theory of BIG

So that you can score me, I ride:
    Bike with Panniers
    Bright fluoro yellow vest over my jersey
    Reflective panels on knicks and panniers
    2 blinking lights facing rear, one of which is a 1/2 watt unit
    Helmet and bar mounted retina-burning headlights that I use to go racing in the forest at night on my mountain bike
    Ride my bike (and position it on the road) exactly like I dive my car...
    ... which usually means ride either in the wheel tracks or the middle of the lane (with the exception of a few select locations where I have made the calculated choice to ride the footpath because of the high rates of encounter with openly hostile drivers).


Reflecting on the way I drive - for some incomprehensible reason, this theory makes sense. I give way too much space to unusual vehicles.

Do you find that it works?
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby jet-ski » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:09 pm

Nick - maybe not a crow bar but an Air Zound - http://www.cellbikes.com.au/Delta-Air-Z ... ders-115db sometimes helps
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Hamster » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:12 pm

just take 2 locks. Any thieving scum will think they don't want to mess about any more than necessary and will go on to the next one.


Might I suggest a minor alteration to the above "take 2 DIFFERENT locks" If some thieving piece of scum can open/smash one type of lock then they can open/smash another of the same type. Two different locks makes their life just that little bit more difficult. Locks with die-cast aluminium bodies are close to useless.

Give a little thought to what you chain your bike to, for example if you chain your bike to a rubbish bin supporting post all the thief might have to do is lift the bin off its support and then lift your bike up and over the post and then take you bike complete with intact lock.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby jasonc » Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:31 pm

jet-ski wrote:Nick - maybe not a crow bar but an Air Zound - http://www.cellbikes.com.au/Delta-Air-Z ... ders-115db sometimes helps


I love my airhorn. Puts a smile on my face EVERYTIME I use it.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby JBark » Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:44 am

This mirror gets a thumbs up from lots of people for its wide angle view and low dorkiness factor :)
http://www.cellbikes.com.au/Zefal-Spy-Mirror-for-Bikes
Thinking of picking up one myself, since quite a few of the roads I ride don't leave me a lot of breathing room when it comes to looking over my shoulder.

I keep my rear flashing light on at all times, even during the day. I've checked, and even the ultra cheap one I have is noticeable from a distance during the day. Front flasher isn't a bad idea all the time either, but I've found the flashing white light isn't really noticeable during the day.

Carry some repair bits with you. Patches, tire levers, hand pump and/or C02 pump, extra tube, small bike tool with a few hex and screwdriver ends. Those bits will take care of about 99% of the problems you're going to have, and anything else is probably above our repair level anyway. :) I just pack everything in an extra water bottle and it's the perfect carrier. Take the bottle with you when locking up the bike, and no worries about stuff getting stolen.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:46 pm

How fast do you go?

The faster you move, the more stable the bike becomes - or so I have heard? Logically then with enough pedal power and an appropriate gear ratio you should be able to scoot along at 100kph right? No?

Is it true that once you reach a certain velocity it becomes unstable - or is that more to do with the speed that you rotate the pedals?

Wondering if the 20kph I achieved last night is fast or slow.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Mulger bill » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:08 pm

Interesting questions Nick.

IMO, once you've reached a certain speed, the bicycle/rider will be as stable as it will ever be. There are instances of instability at higher speeds, some bikes have been decried as guaranteed to get speed wobbles but again, IMO it is a function of the whole bike/rider "system", the right speed on the right bike with the right rider holding the right posture will initiate a wobble every time. Take away any of these variables and you won't be a passenger to one. Yes, it's happened to me, once. I do my best to avoid repeating the circumstances :?
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby jet-ski » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:50 pm

I tend to sit somewhere between 22 - 28 on the flat, and get overtaken a lot ;) but you will be able to go faster the more you ride.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby trailgumby » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:39 pm

On the flat with cars going past on Warringah Road towards Chatswood I hit 38-40 in traffic consistently between Killarney Heights and Crown of the Hill. The cars seem to suck you along a little. Without traffic going past, 28-30 is achievable on the flat with my panniers on and time to accelarate up to speed. That's on a mountain bike with roadie wheels. Down Roseville Bridge, the fastest ever instant speed recorded on my GPS-enabled bike computer was 78km/hr. I'm thinking that was a litle bit wind assisted.

I'm pleased to report no speed wobbles. :D
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:33 am

That is seriously awesome. I have driven cars that could not reach that speed. 8)

So, I took the bike out for a spin again last night in the rain.It was quite nice actually riding through the streets in the middle of the night through the wet. BUT- the brakes! The front brakes especially - they started squealing whenever I squeezed the handles. Why? Is this something that normally happens when the rims get wet, or have I broken something and not realised it? They were squealing hard and making one hell of a racket. Is that normal in the wet?
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Commuting for beginners

Postby Comedian » Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:30 am

Nick - Pie Man wrote:That is seriously awesome. I have driven cars that could not reach that speed. 8)

So, I took the bike out for a spin again last night in the rain.It was quite nice actually riding through the streets in the middle of the night through the wet. BUT- the brakes! The front brakes especially - they started squealing whenever I squeezed the handles. Why? Is this something that normally happens when the rims get wet, or have I broken something and not realised it? They were squealing hard and making one hell of a racket. Is that normal in the wet?

Mate that noise is grit off the road grinding you rims away. :(. If you look
In the light of day you'll see black marks (if your pads are black) and aluminum paste on the wheels :o

It's not really something you can do anything about and you will eventually wear your rims out if you ride in the rain a lot.

Disk brakes get around the problem but roller brakes are even better.
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 Nick - Pie Man » Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:36 am

So it is caused by the rain? Good to know - I can always upgrade the brakes later, for now its enough to know the cause so I can mitigate (ie ride in the rain less)

There is a residue on the rim, ugly black stuff, I guess if I clean it off and keep her dry she should be right to go.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby CommuRider » Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:44 am

The Pie Man attains wisdom

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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:38 am

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You've probably heard this question a million times before .. what's the go with lights and reflectors? I ride around at night a lot and would feel much safer with head and tail lights instead of piddly little street sign reflectors. Is it true that you have to have reflectors on your bike by law? Surely lights would do a better job?
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby jet-ski » Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:49 am

You have to have reflectors *and* lights. A white light at the front, red at the rear. You should be able to pick some up for a reasonable price at a local bike shop. I would suggest getting lights ASAP.
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Re: Commuting for beginners

Postby Nick - Pie Man » Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:49 am

Ah. Good thing I asked
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