I am a bicycle commuter. Starting in 1999, my main source of transportation has been my bicycle (actually in 1998 even before I moved to Boston I rode to work from time to time on the unfriendly roads of Virginia). With the exception of a couple of steep hills and rainy days, bicycling the 3.35 mile route is the most pleasant — and quickest — way to work. Generally I can pedal my way to work in 25 minutes while walking the same route takes 50-60 minutes. The T, which sadly doesn’t follow a straight line between my home and workplace, takes at least 45 minutes, and often takes a whole lot longer (although once, just once, I managed to get to work on the T in 20 minutes, but I’ve never been able to duplicate the feat).
Generally I commute on bicycle roughly from late March to mid-October. This year is a bit topsy-turvy. I had problems with my bicyle all summer long and it was either in the shop for repairs or I was too frustrated to ride it. Eventually I learned the problem was that there is a crack in the frame — a nearly irreparable problem, and a dangerous one at that. So in early October I purchased a new bike from the wonderful folks at Broadway Bicycle School. My current bike is the Redline Conquest Sport which may be the best bike I’ve ever had, and I highly reccomend it for bicycle commuters. I’ve been riding it almost every work day since.
Yesterday morning it felt like winter for the first time after unusually mild weather throughout November. In fact, it snowed. Today, a brisk but sunny day I braved the cold and pedaled to work. I’m trying to be less of a wuss about riding in the winter so this was a good step in that direction. I figure I can ride on the milder and clearer days in the winter, at least as far as the nearest subway stop which cuts the bike commute in half.
I think I can handle the cold and the wind (and even some precipitation), but there are two things I worry about:
- Ice — When I was college I rode my bike across a patch of ice and before I knew what was happening I fell straight off the back of my bike! I landed on my backbone and it smarted for a long while, but fortunately there was no serious injury. Still, it was so sudden and so stunning I’ve been wary about ever riding in icy conditions again.
- Snow — The main concern of snow in the Boston area is that it piles up on the side narrowing the roads, and the bike paths where they exist, thus taking away the places I usually ride. Motorists generally are unhappy about sharing the roadway with bicyclists and I certainly don’t want to be among the cars in slippery conditions.
The ride today felt good and I feel confident about continuing to ride as long as possible. I’ll update here with news about my fall/winter bicycling commuter experiment.