Posts Tagged ‘bike commuters’
Monday, September 19th, 2011
With no cars, this South Minneapolis couple makes it to and from work and everywhere else on their used bikes. In their own words, they share what it’s like to see the city by bike every day.
Occupation: Development associate at the Walker Art Center; board member of Soo Visual Arts Center, Fulton Farmers Market, and Kingfield Farmers Market, and one of the organizers of the FEASTMpls events
How long has each of you been biking to work in downtown Minneapolis? Why did you start?
Masami: We started about 5 years ago when we moved to South Minneapolis. Before that, we lived downtown and walked everywhere; we haven’t had a car since 2003. When we moved farther away, we figured why not bike?
Aaron: It was part of our moving plan. We’ll move to South, ride the bus and get bicycles.
Masami: Part of my motivation to bike is my background. I’m originally from Japan and lived there from birth through 6 years old and then again during high school. There, it’s common to bike commute (even if it’s just riding your bike to the train station) and run errands like grocery shopping. So for me that kind of biking was something I grew up with and a nice “return to my roots” kind of thing.
Do you bike commute together? Why or why not?
Masami: We don’t commute to work together because our hours don’t match up. But we do stuff like go to the farmers market and basically any restaurant together on our bikes.
Aaron: We bike together more on the weekends. It’s good that we do bike, because with our hours during the week, we’d really need two cars otherwise.
Masami: I almost always use Bryant Avenue. It’s almost a straight shot to the Walker. If I’m running errands downtown after work I take Wakefield home.
Aaron: I used to take Bryant every day when I worked in Northeast. Now I’ve started taking First Avenue when I go into work. It takes me pretty much straight there. I started riding on First, and then two weeks later they painted a bike lane on it. I thought, this is awesome. Every Friday it’s my turn to open the restaurant, so I leave at six in the morning and bike in with a friend who also works downtown.
What’s been the biggest benefit of bike commuting?
Masami: Definitely the savings involved for us in not having a car. And you get to be outside; you’re guaranteed to be doing something active every day.
Aaron: I definitely agree with Masami. The savings from not having a car allows us to enjoy more things in our community and our lives and even eat better food. I see and enjoy a lot more in my neighborhood just by going up and down every street on my bike. I get to see what’s new, what smells good, what people are doing. For me, especially having grown up in a rural area where you have to drive to get anywhere, it’s great.
Do you bike year-round? Why or why not?
Masami: We don’t. We’re fair-weather bicyclists. We try to go as long as we can if conditions are dry. I’m not comfortable with the snow and the ice.
Aaron: We purposely live on a bus route just for that reason. I leave work sometimes at 11, midnight, and it’s just too cold in the winter. I don’t like biking with 40 pounds of cold-weather gear on me.
Masami: We really respect the people who do bike year-round. But it’s not for us.
What keeps you motivated when the elements are less than ideal?
Masami: I have gotten stuck in the rain. It’s not my favorite. In terms of getting colder, you just need to put on a couple more layers. I don’t really mind it until it really starts to get bad.
Aaron: I didn’t like biking in the rain until this summer when I just got used to it more. I thought, you know, this really isn’t that bad. Downpours are bad, though. Going into the winter, I don’t put on crazy layers, I just put on a couple more layers and long underwear. When it starts getting too cold and I feel like I might get sick that’s when I say, okay, time to ride the bus.
Masami: For me there’s always a day when it’s cold enough in the air that your eyes just start to burn a lot just from the wind, and that’s usually my breaking point. Our main concern and reason for not riding in the winter is the snow and ice. The snow banks make the streets so narrow.
Masami: I go to my acupuncturist, the hair salon, the gym, yoga, grocery shopping, Target, downtown, the library, the post office. I have a rear basket on my bike that can fit a bag of groceries or my handbag.
Aaron: Any errands where I don’t have to carry heavy things. I purposely don’t buy a lot of heavy stuff so that’s been a good thing about having a bike. If I’m buying groceries I only buy what I can fit into my backpack. I also go to friends’ houses, the farmers market, anywhere. If I wanted to go to Saint Paul and go to a Macalester soccer game, I could ride my bike to that. We’ve biked to Vikings games, Twins games. It’s always fun to go tailgating on your bike, and you don’t have to pay to park.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about starting to bike more?
Masami: Try it at least once. It doesn’t have to be every day right away. You could take the bike every Thursday to start or get a Nice Ride bike when it’s a nice day. For any women interested in biking but concerned about wardrobe, I’ve found that you can bike in just about any kind of clothing. I’ve ridden around in work clothes but also cocktail attire when I have to attend work-related functions outside of the normal workday.
Aaron: I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t do it, honestly. Downtown will be even more congested with traffic soon. And there’s all kind of ways to get involved in the bike community. There are groups that are always looking for volunteers. The sky’s the limit.
Thursday, September 15th, 2011
Want the best tips on bike commuting in the Twin Cities? Go straight to the source: people who regularly bike the trails and roads of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Below are tips from serious bike commuters who were gracious enough to share their insights with us:
Making it routine
- Start by dipping your toes in the water. Try to commute both ways one day a week. If you schedule a specific day for it and plan for the extra time, it’ll become a habit. Once that gets easy, add another day. After a while, the people in your life will become accustomed to your mode of transportation and will tolerate some of the extra steps you have to take to get around under your own power. – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- The secret to bike commuting is making it part of your routine, making it so that you don’t have to decide each morning whether you want to bike or not. We have one car, and my wife takes it to work. So I don’t think twice about it, I load up my daughter in the Burley, drop her off at daycare and continue on to work. – Rett Martin, @rett
- Keep your daily commute’s route interesting so you don’t get bored. Turn here one day—another the next. Take different routes. Explore. – Patrick Stephenson, @patiomench
Online tools and maps
- I use the Metro Transit Commuter Challenge online, which lets me log the miles I bike. It then calculates total miles, total trips, total gas not used and total CO2 offset (in pounds). Seeing those numbers add up is a nice, encouraging way for me to keep biking. – Casey Peterson, @case_face
- For rides to places you’ve never been before, cross-reference between cyclopath.org and Google Maps bicycle directions to figure out the most bike-friendly route. – Sarah Lonning, @slonning
- Wear a helmet! There’s absolutely no reason not to. – Casey Peterson, @case_face
- Never underestimate the importance of lighting. Run multiple red blinking lights on the back and at least two white lights on the front (one blinking, one steady). – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- If you’re in an urban or suburban area, ride like a car: ride on the road, be very predictable and signal your turns. – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- In case of emergencies, know the bus routes along your commute that will get you the rest of the way to work or home, and always have bus fare with you. – Sarah Lonning, @slonning
- I prefer slightly longer, safer routes to shorter, high-traffic ones. Riding the same 10 miles of road every day in two directions can get tedious, and it is easy to zone out. I like having a route that allows me to do that without taking my life into my hands. – Sarah Lonning, @slonning
- Having a good bike goes without saying, but it’s pretty much square one. If you don’t like your bike, or if riding the bike is a chore, you’re not going to want to ride. – Casey Peterson, @case_face
- Use an old road bike, update its drivetrain, install flat-resistant tires or tire protectors, and install fenders. – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- Keep the bike in good, riding condition, just like you would a car. – Casey Peterson, @case_face
- You won’t really notice the savings until you switch to bike commuting full time, so don’t buy an expensive bike right away with all of the potential money you’re going to save. Once you are able to go an entire year commuting by bicycle, you’ll see the financial benefit, and you’ll be a bit surprised. It warms you a little on cold and windy days when you realize your efforts are so valuable.– Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
- Spend your big money on really good raingear. I mean it, really good raingear. Spend your next biggest chunk of money on a waterproof bag or panniers for your clothes. You’ll especially need this if you have a laptop. – Robert Tomb, @bikeonastick
Day to day
- Get friends or coworkers to ride with you. This will help motivate you when you’re just getting into commuting, and they may know routes that you’d never thought of. – Sarah Lonning, @slonning
- If you have a longer commute or commute in all weather conditions, you’ll probably get to work sweaty and disheveled. Packing your work clothes can sometimes be a bulky pain, and a rear rack and panniers can be expensive. If you have storage or file cabinet space at work, you can pick a day of the week to drive or bus in with enough clothes for the week ahead and store them at your desk to change into, and then take home any clothes you brought in for the previous week. Wash, repeat. – Ang Dezelke, @angied
- Wear two pairs of pants when it’s raining out. That way when you show up to work with a soggy bottom, you can shed a layer. – Nick Nelson, @gonicknelson
- Rolling your right pant leg to protect it from sprockets doesn’t make you a hipster. Forgetting to unroll it does. – Nick Nelson, @gonicknelson
- Fashion is cyclical. Bike shorts are not. – Nick Nelson, @gonicknelson
- Little bells on your handlebars are manly. We all need horns to honk. – Nick Nelson, @gonicknelson
Have tips of your own? Share them below in the comments.
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Downtown Journal. Now that Nice Ride bikes are tucked away for the winter, consider using the bus for your quick trips to lunch, meetings, doctor’s appointments, or shopping. Using Metro Transit is an ideal way
The following is a post written by Bri Whitcraft, Special Projects Coordinator, Bike Walk Twin Cities. It all started with a video as inspiration and a Tweet as declaration. (My mom thought it was a joke.) Map & Route From my home in South Minneapolis, I biked to St. Paul to borrow the trailer from
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Southwest Journal. Practical, affordable and surprisingly rewarding, winter bicycling has become increasingly popular in Minneapolis, recently named one of the top five cities in the nation for winter bicycle commuting by MetaEfficient. That’s amazing when