I was thinking this morning about brooza's excellent bike commuting resource and I wonder if bike commuters don't occasionally send the wrong message to those potentially interested.

I know that in the past, when someone who has a bike they occasionally ride on the weekend has asked me about riding it to work, and we get into the discussion about pumps and spare tubes, racks and panniers or the perfect backpack, waterproof jackets, lights etc, their eyes glaze over a bit and they have decided it's all too hard. Brooza's example of a workmate talking about riding to work with a fixie and a shoulder bag comes to mind.

Hardened bike commuters are geeks at heart, we love finding new bits and pieces to make the commute easier and more comfortable - a quick scan of any commuter forum on the web provides heaps of examples. I think that maybe the list of things that work for us might be a little daunting for the newbie.

Instead I think we should encourage people to ride whatever they have, in the knowing that once they start they will go through the same trial and error process we have and find what works for them on their commute. The process of discovery for them will be fun, and less overwhelming than being given a long shopping list before they even turn a pedal.

Just some rambling thoughts for a Friday....

(by the way, I've come full circle and currently commute with a fixie and a shoulder bag... but I do have brakes, and clipless pedals, oh and really nice lights, and a nice spray jacket, and a nice pump in my bag, and some tools.....)

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Can't believe I'm the first person to view this. Damian?

From what I've seen, there are 2 kinds of commuters - the "once or twice a week ones when the weather is good" - like me - and the "every day rain hail or shine" types - they are the hard core ones!
I can imagine the every day ones getting a bit intense, but the once or twice a week commuting is pretty easy to get into. $100-$200 in lights, tools, spares, pannier, and off you go into the wild streets. It is an adventure.

I completely agree! Great post.

To start commuting you only need one thing - a working bicycle. (Oh, and perhaps a helmet).

Everything else can come later. No-one starts out thinking they are going to bike commute in the rain, or in the dark, or with special shoes and so on. As you say, these are things that you come to as the addiction develops.

I remember some video posted on here ages ago, aimed at helping people start commuting, featuring a woman who was starting to commute. From memory she was going ten km or so. When she started talking about the importance of having energy bars 'just in case', I laughed out loud. I'm not sure exactly what she thought was going to happen on her short urban commute that required survival foods. But it's that kind of thing that puts off potential riders, as no-one wants to invest in a whole load of esoteric bits and bobs just to get to work.

Good discussion Damian.

I`ve graduated from being ex-alcoholic struggling up to 10km and then years later to hard core rider on my "Bad Black" urban road warrior in any weather in fully equipped accesories still riding in mended broken patella.Got the best brakes for wet weather that don`t make squealing noises and the best lights for night riding too.Never been hit by a car/truck yet over 6 years.

I am addicted to bike and accessories and spent a lot of money on it.


I'm new both to Sydney Cyclist and to the commuter group. I like your thinking when it comes to communicating the necessities of bike commuting. For me however the Sydney setting was a bit of a shock when I first started to ride to work. I was used to (from northern Europe) people riding leisurely to work, wearing their work clothes and brief case on the spring packet holder (don't know the English name of this bike part) on the back of the bike. The style of riding required to negotiate Sydney roads and distances sorta requires faster set-ups. Currently I frighten most of my colleagues off riding by my tight fitting racing Lycra gear. In the rare situations where people can commute shorter distances and on back roads or bike paths, the European (and Asian) style works fine, but that's probably the exception here I would say. Otherwise, I'm one of those abovementioned rain, hail or shine every day riders. It was fun dodging lightening strikes, hail and torrential rain on the Friday evening home trip. 

Another thing that confuses me culturally is the great issue people appear to have with Lycra. I come from a culture where appropriate clothing for any particular activity is OK. No one thinks it's bad or embarrassing for a cross country skier, a speed skater or a cyclist to wear appropriate clothes for the particular activity they are engaging in. A trip to the local shops for milk and croissants usually don't warrant cleats and Lycra, but long fast rides usually do. What is it in the Australian culture that is so frightened of body shapes?


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