When it comes to winter bike commuting, I’m somewhat of a cheater: I only ride to work when it’s convenient.

For example, if I’m meeting someone on the other end of town after work, I drive. But it’s almost always more convenient to throw a leg over the saddle than to reach for the car keys – because I’ve made it that way.

It’s only October, but here in America’s snow boot we know winter is coming! Last year I had the opportunity to become a year-round bike commuter, thanks to a new job with a very convenient location. My not-so-new job has now moved to a new location, and my commute is 4 miles instead of 1, but it’s all do-able even in the winter. Here are some things I did to make it a no-brainer to spin to work on most days rather than driving.

Two Bikes

My biggest cheat is by having two bikes. Being a bike “enthusiast” it’s natural that I have a couple of bikes. Every winter I put winter tires (and fenders) on both of them. They’re strategically set up for varying levels of winter weather, so I just ride which ever one is more appropriate for the weather that morning, or what is forecasted for that day. One bike is for nice winter days, and the other is for harsh winter days.
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As you already know, I’m a fan of Topeak’s rack systems. They work great for carrying kids, groceries, panniers, etc. I’ve gone through a couple iterations of tail lights from Ax-Man Surplus that I usually just stick to the back of the rack with 3M Very High Bond (VHB) double-sided foam tape and some 3M adhesion promoter.

The foam tape, when used with adhesion promoter, works great for all bumps, jumps and falls. The cheap Ax-Man lights however, left something to be desired. One quit after some moisture got into the housing, the other quit because it was just plain cheap – I’d never paid more than $5 for any of them at Ax-Man.

Since I’d already invested over $100 in my front light, I figured it was time to give the back light some love. Continue reading

A year and a half after I purchased these bags, it’s time for a review. You can’t buy them anymore, but this is more of a review of panniers in general. I used to ride with a backpack. It works (and is good for laptop shock absorption), but be prepared to have an instantly sweaty back. I can’t walk up a flight of stairs with a backpack on and not start to feel damp 🙂  Getting the bag off of my back and on to the rack on my bike is a huge win for comfort and convenience.

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I’m glad to see our bike tour, now dubbed the “Annual Fridley Bike & Hike” grow every year. This year we had more volunteers, more activities, and more promotion. While the weather didn’t cooperate entirely, everyone who attended had a great time.

Making it Great

As in years past, the city has had no budget for the event, but a volunteer group associated with the Fridley Environmental and Energy Commission stepped up to help coordinate this event.

Since we normally try to have our event coincide with “National Trails Day,” this year we were able to use the American Hiking Society’s fantastic website and resources to help promote our event. We also promoted it through local online resources on Facebook and Nextdoor.
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I’m excited about the prospects of a safer Osborne Rd. For the record I am for the 3 lane conversion the most of the proposed options. If the county were to mill and overlay tomorrow, this is a great low/no cost way to drastically increase safety and accessibility.

However, I feel this particular study does not draw from other cities past experience well enough. At the study meeting it was mentioned that the city of Crystal lamented that they did not do the 3 lane option for the full length of the roadway. I see the same sort of trepidation here.

Road Speed

Why not lower the speed limit to 30MPH? Residents in attendance at the meeting were obviously concerned about the speed as they’re asking for more enforcement. The real answer to enforcement is self-enforcement and the road diet would provide that. But why not lower the speed limit to 30? The odds of a pedestrian fatality at 40MPH is two times of that at 30MPH – and lets face it, travelers on a 35MPH road are going to be driving 40MPH.

36th Ave in New Hope
36th Ave in New Hope

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