I don't consider myself a true bike commuter because I don't do it everyday, year round, rain or shine. I'm a snowbird commuter. I come out when the days are long and the sun is shining. I have however, been doing my snowbird commuting for 6-7 years now and I've learned a few tricks from the hardcore cycling commuters along with developing some of my own.
My goal when commuting by bike is to get to my destination without hearing one car/truck horn directed at me. I try very hard to be the *well behaved cyclist* with hopes of trying to change the attitude of even just one non cycling driver. I'm hoping a driver notices the respect I'm showing for them while concurrently abiding by the given rules both of us should be complying with.
Here are a few tricks, ideas and habits I follow to make bike commuting less stressful and more enjoyable.
1. If I leave 15 minutes earlier than I actually need to, I do several things that benefit me: I anticipate flatting or having some mechanical issue to contend with ( my buffer/safety net ). That 15 minutes can make a huge difference volume wise of vehicular traffic on the roads too and I'm less likely to feel rushed with the temptation of rolling thru a stop sign or two and not paying attention in traffic with my focus on rushing to get where I need to go . Give yourself time.
2. This is for the girls (sorry boys) but I SWEAR, by this: Wearing a bit of pink, and not tucking my hair out of sight under my helmet gives me a bit of an advantage with angry butt crack flaunting plumbers ( not you Duffy) and sanitation truck drivers. They appear to be less aggressive to the biker girl toting a pink messenger bag. And when the temps allow for it, the skort is essential to complete the look. Think LEGS! LEGS! LEGGGGGGS! I'm convinced it simmers the car load of angry cigarette smoking Ana's Taqueria kitchen worker right down. Work it girls
3.I love this blinky. It easily comes off your helmet if you don't have a dedicated commuter helmet and it swivels so it's always facing back and blinking. A better sight line for drivers coming from behind instead of it being behind your saddle me thinks. I have it blinking whether it's sunny or not. See and be seen.
I don't leave my house without a minimally but smartly stocked bag.
A. Form fitting non latex gloves with excellent tactile sensitively. Confession: I've pilfered them from work. Look, I work in a dental office. If I flat or have some issue that my hands are likely
to become black and greasy (ick) I don't want to mess up my clothing, gloves, my bar tape and most importantly my hands and then have to deal with it after I've gotten to work. My patients don't give a crap I dropped my chain 4 times and flatted twice and that's why I have grease under my fingernails as I walk them back to a treatment room. No. no and NO!
B. A mini survival kit: Band aids, a contact lens, eye drops, tissues and lip balm with sunscreen and emergency snacks.
C. Small copies of the Massachusetts Rules of the Road For Drivers. I'll be the first to admit, I will want to come at you with an ax shouting "OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!" if you cut me off taking a right hand turn with no blinker to pull into Dunkin Donuts impulsively because you've decided at the last minute, you need that jelly donut and latte even though you JUST saw me next to you on the road seconds before your donut right hook.
If you almost sideswipe me because you are an inconsiderate dickwad that can't wait 10 seconds for a small gap so you can move over to the left(yellow lane line) and you haven't a clue that IT'S THE LAW that you are required to give cyclists a safe buffer zone. ( Waiting and hoping the 3 feet rule makes it here to MA)
If there is some type of altercation along with complete stopped time during this altercation (rare), screaming and looking like the *bad cyclist* to everyone around watching is just useless and wasted energy that I need to bank to get up the hills after said altercation. I simply hold my tongue ( sooooo difficult because yes.. it's true, I'm a bitch on wheels if provoked) and pass the nice little copy to the driver so they can refresh their rules of the road.
Can you argue over a rule that is clearly stated in the MASS rule books? Clearly some will continue to rage pumping their fist at you but they will soon learn they too can be at fault and will hopefully retain the information.
D. My cell phone tucked into my SoulRun phone case that I can type right thru the clear plastic window along with with my debit card in the pocket provided on the back. I love this thing. It's durable. It keeps my phone dry and well... it's pink.
I don't do the ICE thing with my phone. Instead, I wear my Road ID that has pertinent information needed in case of an emergency. My full name the year of my birth on the same line An emergency contact. No Allergies, and showing that I have insurance, BS/BS of MA at the bottom.
E.My tool kit contains: 2 tubes, a mini pump (back up if the C02 cartridges malfunction) a mini tool, 2 CO2 cartridge with a small threaded inflator, and tire levers (3) and $10 in cash.
F. My Castelli Sottile rain jacket that folds up super tight and small.
If I'm on a narrow street and can't move away from parked cars that could fling a door open in my path, I look in each and every driver side mirror. If I see a face, I'm on high alert. The goal: Keep the collarbone intact.
I never roll thru a red light EVEN IF no other cars are coming from across the intersection. It's tempting but I'm trying to make a statement to drivers that I am to follow the rules of the road just as a motor vehicle. Please do this. So what you have to sit at a light. Keep your pants on. Grab a drink, adjust your messenger bag, take a breather. Everyone is in such a hurry. Don't be that person. CHILL
When someone lets me in/ out/ thru with a wave I give the wave back and or a thumbs up with a smile. When other cyclists do this when I'm driving, it's appreciated. A little bit of courtesy goes a long long way. Be that person.
Ok, this one is so very hard for me but I try try try and not give the finger to the driver that just tried to kill me while he speeds off after almost brushing me with his passenger side mirror and you should too. Be the one showing self control. As good as it feels to flip them off, all you are essentially doing is cementing the stigma that all cyclists are evil and must be sent a clear message that we shouldn't be on the road. Think of Penny singing Soft Kitty Warm Kitty Little ball of Fur . breath,and..... Let. It. Go.
Ride safe, Drive safe, Be the driver and or rider you would want on the road with you.
It's simple yet sadly, so complex too.
Thanks for stopping by!