True confessions of a bike commuter

As many of my beautiful readers may know, I ride my bike to work (almost) every day.  Lately I’ve become interested in hearing stories and comparing notes with other bike commuters.  Therefore, I’m kicking off a new series called True Confessions of a Bike Commuter.  It’s an opportunity for us to meet and greet with my fellow commuters, and find out what makes us get in the saddle every morning.

If you are a bike commuter and would like to be featured in this series, please send an email to lauren@artintercepts.org for consideration.  Thanks!

Me first?  Well, if you insist.

Where do you live? Chicago

How long is your commute? I work two part time jobs during the day and travel to both by bike.  The daily commute from home to work to work to home is about 15-20 miles.

What kind of bike do you ride?  A Trek hybrid

Do you wear work clothes on your bike, or wear bike clothes and change at work? I’m lucky that both of my jobs have locker rooms, so I wear bike clothes and can change and shower if necessary.  Padded shorts are non-negotiable.

How do you carry your stuff? Paniers? Messenger bag? Milk Crate? I’ve tried all three, but these days I’ve got a trunk bag that has attached paniers.  It has a huge capacity (key since I commute between jobs, bring a change of clothes, and pack my lunch), and I like not having to carry anything on my back.  Downside: it’s heavy.  I’ll add, too, that the homeless people who like to steal bikes noticed me a LOT less when I was rocking the orange milk crate.

Fair-weather rider? For the most part, I ride every day.  I’ll ride in the rain, snow, hot, cold, or wind.  The only thing I refuse to ride in is sleet and ice.  The only downside to this is that my co-workers often have to pass by my underwear drying in the office…

Scariest moment on the bike: I’ve been “doored” about 5 times but the scariest by far was when I went over the top of a car door and landed in the middle of a busy road.  I was fine, except for some nasty road rash and a cut on my eye.  The driver said he was sorry, and then when I asked if my face was bleeding (it was) he said “No, No… you look great!”

Tips for new riders: Spend the money to invest in good shorts, a helmet, lights, and a reflective jersey.  You’ll look goofy, but it makes for a more comfortable and safe ride.  Learn hand signals and use them, especially when you’re among a big bunch of riders (other riders can be just as dangerous as cars).  I also think it’s important to be a defensive rider, especially in a big city.  That doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk – just be sure to appear confident on the bike.

Why you ride: We have one car in our household, but I only use it on the weekends.  I get really frustrated with the cost of public transit and the time it takes to get where I need to go.  This month, I’ve spent four dollars and fifty cents total on transportation costs.  I commute by bike in 45 minutes a distance takes me 70 minutes+ on bus.  Plus, I like the fresh air and built-in exercise.  I’ve had some of my best creative moments on my bike… for me it’s a way to escape from my hectic schedule.  After you commute by bike for awhile, you can’t really imagine doing it any other way.

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