Newbie looking to commute to work

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Spinners
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby Spinners » 6 Oct 2016, 1:34pm

Despite being a long-time cyclist I've only recently started commuting and love it but will admit to it being a very short distance (3km each way) and I'm happy to take the car when it's lagging it down. As I'm mainly office based (and my commute is so short) I ride in normal clothes on a hybrid and just enjoy the ride preferring to go out for a 'proper' 40-minute sweaty blast on my road bike as soon as I rise each morning and then shower and dress for work. After work I just enjoy a nice, short plod home.

Hope it all goes well for you.
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hamster
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby hamster » 6 Oct 2016, 1:54pm

mjr wrote:Welcome to the OP. Others have said most of it now, I think.

gbnz wrote:
hamster wrote:MUST:
a) Lights (with rechargeable batteries, AA will do). Exact choice depending on whether 'being seen' for urban (flashing etc) or 'seeing' (powerful beam) for rural.
b) High viz tabard / jacket
c) Waterproof jacket, gloves.

Strong wish:
a) Slick tyres (Schwalbe Marathon 1.6) - fast rolling, heavily puncture resistant
b) Mudguards


I'd agree; High viz tabards are fantastic for being seen. [...]

I'd disagree strongly with only that one. They're decreasingly useful in urban areas due to the widespread use of hi-viz, they've always bordered on camouflage in many rural scenes (yellow is common here), they are suspected of encouraging target fixation if they are seen, they grey out under street lights and they only last a few washes (sometimes as few as 10) and apparently each wash dumps microfibres into the drain (there's a discussion about it on here somewhere). It's definitely not a must if you've got a full set of good lights and reflectors on the bike.


OK, so:
1 IS high viz better or worse than normal clothes in poor lighting?
2 Will it ensure that any accident insurance claim will have zero contributory negligence? "Sorry I didn't see you!"

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horizon
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby horizon » 6 Oct 2016, 2:02pm

I think there are several points in the OP to make one quite sad about the impression given of cycling by the media or by one's friends and family (although there is of course the main point to make one happy). But how did this come about? How did a young man (?) just eight years out of school come to believe that cycling three miles would be a challenge or that a certain item of equipment was essential? Or that indeed just getting on a bike to work down the road could be made to sound like preparation for an ascent of Everest? It is heart breaking really.
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby Vorpal » 6 Oct 2016, 3:04pm

hamster wrote:OK, so:
1 IS high viz better or worse than normal clothes in poor lighting?
2 Will it ensure that any accident insurance claim will have zero contributory negligence? "Sorry I didn't see you!"


I think reflective stuff is helpful at night. Especially reflective stuff that Identifies someone as a cyclist:
-reflective sidewalls
-reflective trouser clips/straps
-pedal & wheel reflectors
-Sam Browne belt

Bright colours can be useful, especially on a dull day, but dark colour can be useful agasint snow.

The only thing it will ensure with regard to insurance claims is that they *cannot* reduce the compensation for a lack of appropriate clothing.

The Hgihway code says
Rule 59

Clothing. You should wear
•a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened
•appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
•light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
•reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark.


There is some evidence that hi viz improves visibility (i.e. the distance at which one can be seen). I'm not aware of any evidence that it significantly enhances overall safety or crash risk.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby mjr » 6 Oct 2016, 3:20pm

hamster wrote:OK, so:
1 IS high viz better or worse than normal clothes in poor lighting?

Neither, on average, which I found surprising but it seems to be true. What really matters is your contrast with the background.

2 Will it ensure that any accident insurance claim will have zero contributory negligence? "Sorry I didn't see you!"

Nothing can ensure that, but contributory negligence requires the defendant to show that the alleged negligence was both negligence and materially contributed to the damage suffered. So they'd have to show that they would have missed you if you'd been wearing hi-viz, but the highway code is quite clear that motorists must "drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear" (from rule 163 - rather than driving assuming that what they can't see is clear), so I don't see how they can reasonably blame someone else for them driving into anything visible on the road, whether another road user or an obstruction.

Can you? If they couldn't see empty road, they should have slowed so that they could stop within empty road. If their eyesight is defective, it should be corrected (rule 92) or they should surrender their licence (rule 90). Attempts to claim contributory negligence by people who left their house on a sharp bend and madness like that has generally failed.

I suspect there's far more risk that someone wearing hi-viz could be accused of contributory negligence for inducing Target Fixation... and that's pretty unlikely too.

But anyway, even if you reallllly love looking like a lemon with ghost stripes, it's really not a must-have for a short ride that's only on main roads for 2-3 minutes.

Reflectors on the bike. Then you've got them for every ride, no matter what you wear.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby Annoying Twit » 6 Oct 2016, 4:09pm

hamster wrote:MUST:
a) Lights (with rechargeable batteries, AA will do). Exact choice depending on whether 'being seen' for urban (flashing etc) or 'seeing' (powerful beam) for rural.
b) High viz tabard / jacket
c) Waterproof jacket, gloves.

Strong wish:
a) Slick tyres (Schwalbe Marathon 1.6) - fast rolling, heavily puncture resistant
b) Mudguards


Puncture resistant tyres, in particular, is something that I thought of immediately. Vote seconded.

Even if you (OP, not Hamster) have waterproof jackets and other things, it's possible to get quite wet in the rain. Having a change of clothes, or even just shoes and socks, can make a difference. There have been times when I've cycled in wellies with my shoes and spare socks in my bag on my back.

Do you (OP, not Hamster) have a budget to get the bike serviced before starting the commute?

@BrianFox - agreed on the track pump. After using cheap pumps for ages, I bought a Joe Blow track pump which isn't that fancy or expensive. Such an improvement over what I had before and it's lasted for years.

And, a good lock! Or, is there somewhere properly secure for the bike at work?

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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby Annoying Twit » 6 Oct 2016, 4:19pm

meic wrote:It isnt the HiViz material that gets you seen, it is the reflective strips.
The effect of those strips is apparent to anybody who drives a car at night and doesnt need arguing about, the facts are self evident.


I saw this and then went off and bought myself (ebay) a reflective sash.

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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby mjr » 6 Oct 2016, 4:50pm

meic wrote:It isnt the HiViz material that gets you seen, it is the reflective strips.
The effect of those strips is apparent to anybody who drives a car at night and doesnt need arguing about, the facts are self evident.

Anyone who drives a car at night knows it's the bobbing pedal reflectors which are the most eye-catching reflectors and the white H or yellow Z shapes commonly made by reflectors on hi-viz tops or sashes are a bit confusing. Rear reflectors attached to a vehicle are rightly required to be red, not white, but sadly the law doesn't apply to clothing.
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Edwards
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby Edwards » 6 Oct 2016, 5:06pm

For somebody starting out on a commute I think that watching Aldi and Lidl for their cycling stuff when they have it (especially when reduced later) is a very good source of gloves and skull caps and other cycling stuff.
I prefer a Headtorch for canal towpaths as I can point the beam where it is needed. Then I only have to think about bike lights to comply with the law, I use a headtorch on the road as well.
For such a short distance waterproof coat and trousers for me would be nice as they would save changing clothes (ride at the correct pace for what you are wearing). You do not have to race to work but can enjoy the "me Time".

The discussion about Hi Vis does not really help the OP at this stage.

I am heartened that somebody who is considering starting to commute is asking for advise from people who should have the experience to help him and avoid expensive mistakes. As opposed to thinking it a sad reflection of the state of cycling.

The best advice I can give is to enjoy the ride when you can.
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NUKe
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby NUKe » 6 Oct 2016, 5:21pm

3 mile commute you just need a bike with an oiled chain pumped up tyres and all the nuts and bolts tight , lights a rear reflector and pedal reflectors if you are going to ride in the dark. you need to carry either a spare tube or repair outfit and a pump. + any tools you might need to fix the puncture.

Clothes you don't need anything special, although brighter colours or reflectives are better at night. Make a start get into the habit then you can spend on other things. gloves hats jackets any will do.
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby eileithyia » 6 Oct 2016, 7:04pm

Hi, welcome.

Commuting is great... have been doing it for years to supplement my other cycling activities.

Get bike serviced / checked over.. make sure it is all working OK.

As has been said; Check the route out and time it.. add a bit on for extra traffic on your commute (though less likely if arriving at 06:30), allow an extra 15 mins for getting sorted out at work, change of clothes(?) etc., then you have a buffer for if something goes wrong (visitation from the p fairy).

Make friends with security, boiler room staff etc., esp if there are no obvious safe places to lock up your bike, if you can, find somewhere under cover... to help protect it from the elements (prying eyes).

Decent lock and leave it at work (it's what i do).

Any clothes will do as long as they are comfy, i started cycling in old trackie bottoms and some old sweat shirts etc., Essential a waterproof.

My commute list would be:-
old but serviceable bike
Lights
Mudguards
ankle band reflectors of some description
reflective gilet / tabard / sam browne belt or similar esp if clothes do not already have some reflective strips on them.
Change of socks / shoes / trousers left at work..... as cold wet feet and shoes are horrid.... (newspaper or paper towels stuffed in shoes helps absorb the water for the ride home)
scarf, hat, gloves for winter.
Most of all, cheerful optimism, commuting is great (and now i am semi-retired i almost miss it), you are intune with nature around you, see the sun come up, the sky change colours, hear the owls and the dawn chorus, become sensitive to the changing seasons....
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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horizon
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby horizon » 6 Oct 2016, 10:56pm

Edwards wrote:I am heartened that somebody who is considering starting to commute is asking for advise from people who should have the experience to help him and avoid expensive mistakes. As opposed to thinking it a sad reflection of the state of cycling.



It was a very positive post from the OP. But perhaps also typical. I wouldn't have wanted to start a new thread on it, just to briefly express my surprise that a young man might baulk at three miles. In a way his post was very useful because it gives us an insight into what people feel and think about cycling: that's important to know - many car journeys are of this length and could be cycled. I didn't have anythng to add to all the other advice - all good stuff.
The experience of travel is something that you have to pay for but can never buy. Ho Ri Zon Chinese philosopher

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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby pjclinch » 7 Oct 2016, 8:56am

To repeat voting points from above, Yes to appropriate tyres (off-road knobblies add fantastically to drag, and aren't so good for cornering on tarmac), Yes to mudguards, Yes to lights (and these days, thanks to LEDs, you can get pretty decent ones for not much). And if you want to carry anything it's much easier if you let the bike take the strain, so consider putting a rack on if it doesn't have one.

Hi-viz... being easier to see is a bit of a moot point if you're easy enough to see. With something as big as a person this really boils down to is the other person looking in the right place, rather than if they're dressed like a road-mender. As long as you're in a predictable place (and it's worth noting that road-menders often aren't) then that's more important than what you wear. While you can just look at people in hi-viz and say it's obvious they're easier to see, wearing it doesn't actually seem to make any difference to safety. Reflectives are generally reckoned to make a difference, but as mjr noted if they're on the bike you don't have to worry about what you wear. IME as a driver, pedal reflectors with their up/down motion are a very good give-away that there's a cyclist up ahead, and the big reflectives on the backs of panniers pick up just as well as patches on clothing.

How hard is it? My daughter does that sort of distance every morning on a paper round. She's 13. She doesn't use any special cycling kit aside from a pannier bag to put the papers in (she finds that easier than a typical newspaper/courier sack). If weather is intemperate she uses clothes that deal with intemperate weather, but they're not cycling specific. I'd suggest anyone/everyone ought to have a decent raincoat. Back when I was a teen I did a paper round too, and again nothing cycling-specific beyond the bike and trouser clips (I still use an ankle-slappy these days to keep my right trouser leg out of the transmission, and it doules as an extra reflector).

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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby TrevA » 7 Oct 2016, 9:36am

In would say that some of what has been written in the previous posts is overkill. You need to just do it. You don't need special clothes - you could commute in your workwear but if it's wet or muddy you might consider changing into your work clothes when you get there. An old tracksuit or similar would be OK to start with. You'll need some lights, but nothing special - some £20 lights from Aldi/Halfords would suffice. A pump and a spare inner tube would be recommended. Mudguards are nice to have but not essential.
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Re: Newbie looking to commute to work

Postby andrewk » 7 Oct 2016, 9:31pm

Lock
Not mentioned yet...be sure to get a GOOD D lock eg. Kryptonite Evolution 4, Abus 540, Kryptonite New York plus a secondary lock or cable. Ignore eye watering bike shop prices... between a Google search and Amazon you should be able to get both for within £50.
At the risk of stating the obvious....Lock through the frame and rear wheel with the D lock and through the frame and front wheel with the secondary lock or cable.
I do local utility cycle trips in any old walking jacket....hi viz may be helpful but isn't a priority....lights and locks are. A spare inner tube, tyre levers and patches are recommended as are mudguards. You may well find that other than the above lights, locks, mudguards, inner tube and puncture stuff you can use stuff that you already have, eg. I use an old aerosol of motorcycle chain oil to oil cycle chains.
Doing your own basic maintenance: lubrication, changing tyres, fixing punctures, new cables and brake pads, new chain and cassette as required will save lots over using a bike shop.
Decathlon is quite good for cheap cables, brake pads etc.
Lastly enjoy it...riding is far nicer than being squashed up against a smelly person in a bus or waiting ages for the bus.