Commuting: Episode 1 - Hybrids (Mega-Sharkotopus)
This isn't an article on Prius's (Priuii?) or Yellow Roses or gene-spliced pirhana/sharks. No, it's about commuting to work using your bike (mostly). No, we're going to address the biggest reason people don't use their bikes to commute. The simple fact that it's too far!
Six miles may not sound like much to some but for a newer rider the thought of doing that distance while trying to get to work can be daunting. Commuting isn't just a bike ride, it's at best ride to work, in and out of traffic and at worst is a pack-laden adventure on crowded roads. Anything that can be done to make the commute less-stressful is good for the new commuter. And here's how you do it.
Whatever your distance to work you can shorten that ride easily. Use your car. Or public transportation. Just because your neighbor rides his bike the full 20 miles into work doesn't mean you have to do the same. Split the commute into a drive into town to a spot where you can park your car and then unload the bike and ride the rest of the way. Let's examine my commute into Lilly (see route)
I get up in the morning, get dressed in my bike riding clothes (whatever your preference), load the bike on the bike rack, pack my "professional" clothes in the panniers/backpack and drive to Broad Ripple. I park the car somewhere safe, unload and ride out to the Monon and continue my ride to Lilly. Now my 15 mile trip is about half that length. I discovered this while tryng to commute the whole distance by bike. At that time I was not in shape enough to do the whole distance and arrive feeling well. I found my self wishing I lived closer to work. By doing a "hybrid" commute I got "closer" to work!
The drive was shorter and easier, I used less gas and I rode an easier and more enjoyable distance. You see and hear more when you're not gasping for air. As you get your "legs" you can drive less and ride farther should you desire to. And on those days you're simply beat you can drive a longer route and ride less.
I know of some folks that ride the bus with their bike park of the way then dismount and ride the remaining part of thier commute. Or ride to the bus, then hop off the bus later. Got a friend that can haul you and your bike part-way on their way to work? Be imaginative!
Driiving part way can also result and finding a better riding route to work. Perhaps the Monon or similar trail would be great to use if you could only get to it. Drive to the trail and park! I cuaution you to find a safe place to park though. Many trail parking lots are prowled by ne'er -do-wells, figuring you won't be back for a while. Park a block or so away maybe.
However you do your hybrid commute it'll give you the miles and experience to be able to ride farther and safer and be more relaxed as well. There are many reasons to commute by bike, shouldn't you give it a chance?