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One year of cycling to work (hookrace.net)
295 points by def- on Feb 20, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 395 comments



I commute about 6 miles each way between Brooklyn (home) and Manhattan (work). I've been raving about it to everyone I know because it's legitimately changed my life. It feels amazing, saves money, keeps me in much better shape, gives me more energy at work. It's slightly faster than the subway, and significantly faster than driving/cabbing at rush hour.

I also love that transit time is very consistent (even relative to the subway, which has lately been wonky). It's great to arrive for our morning standup exactly 7 minutes early, rather than having to pad in 30 minutes of unproductive dead space in case the subway has some problem.

NYC bike paths have gotten pretty good over the years, such that I can use protected lanes for ~70% of the trip, and dedicated lanes for >90%. No accidents yet but several close calls, mostly with pedestrians. New York streets are crowded and aggressive, but the speeds are low and drivers are relatively vigilant.


The consistency is a vastly underrated quality of bike commuting. One amazing thing I've found is I'm more likely to do social events after work, even ones that are a great distance, if I don't have to worry about traffic.

For example, sometimes after I work I bicycle 90 minutes to San Jose and don't think twice about it. If I had my car it would PROBABLY take 45 minutes, but I honestly have no idea. Or I could go home, and drive to the train station, and catch the train, then walk. But the bike gives me the freedom to not worry about schedules and also not stress about delays.

It sounds so silly to prefer to ride for twice as long as I'd drive and consider that a "win", but there's some kind of psychological block to dealing with traffic and the fact that a 15 minute drive instead takes 45 or 30 or 50 or 60 minutes.. but when the bicycle ride takes 90 minutes with or without traffic, it's so much more appealing.


Sorry for the basic question, but how do you bike for 90 minutes without being covered in sweat and needing a shower when you arrive at your destination?


I'd bet that you could walk for 90 mins even at a fast pace without getting all sweaty? If so then you can cycle for 90 mins without getting sweaty :)

Seriously though, I have 2 main modes of commute cycling: 1 as fast as I can manage, which I only do when I know I can shower at either end 2 at a pretty decent pace but one where I know that I'll stay cool and dry enough to not be a sweaty mess. Depending on the temp and how far I might slow right down for the last few minutes just to cool off.

The right clothes also help - even going pretty fast in lycra you'll stay cool enough. Cycling in full work clothes is doable but not fun for miles and miles.

Main thing for me was not carrying a bag on my back, as that makes me sweaty no matter the speed. I have a small bag for clothes on the front of my road bike (super cheap off ebay) and a rack on the back for bits. I try not to commute with a laptop - I've not needed to really so far.


I've been riding with a pannier on my back rack (instead of using a backpack) for 4 of the 6 months. I still get that "what did I forget?" feeling when I pull out onto the road. It's so amazingly freeing not having the weight tied to my back and the sweat that goes along with it.


It's a good question. In my climate, eight months out of the year it's impossible to ride for more than twenty minutes without getting sweaty, but I find that most days don't need a full shower to freshen up. Just take a washcloth with you, get it wet, and do a once-over when you change clothes. Re-apply deodorant and you're fine. There are still a lot of days (almost every day in the height of summer) where it's so hot that just being outside is enough to make you sweat, and after any significant time on the bike, you will continue sweating bullets even in the frigid office air conditioning while your body cools down. In that case, arrive a little early, work at your desk until you stop sweating, and then go wipe off and change. You won't smell bad while the sweat is fresh (as long as your bike clothes don't accumulate a vile odor — be careful about this.) Cleaning off before you stop sweating is a mistake.

Alcohol-based wet wipes are the nuclear option if you still have odor issues. Obviously they're not very green to use every day, but having some on hand can give you peace of mind if you're afraid you might unexpectedly need to go face-to-face with upper management or a customer.


Good clothes help. I wear a lot of icebreaker merino wool stuff (yes, even t-shirts) and they simply never stink. But I also commute in 'normal' cotton/poly clothes.

True "workout" gear stinks to high heaven. I'm not sure what they put in gym shirts and shorts but once you sweat, it's all over. Don't wear that stuff when commuting to work!

Normally I commute in a t-shirt, a merino sweater/sweatshirt, and jeans with bike shorts (padded liners) underneath. They're basically like the underwear version of bike shorts -- not something to be worn solo.


Wool works great for me as well. The old synthetic stuff (say, ten years ago) used to just get smellier and smellier until it would gross you out straight out of the washer. Newer synthetics aren't as bad, but they're still stinkier than wool.


Ease off on your pace for the last 10-15 min so your body has a chance to cool off. If you are showering regularly you remove the bacteria that cause the stank, so sweating by itself won't cause most people to be excessively funky.


I'm not the original poster, and I'm about to write something gross, but I commute for long times too and I find the sweat less of an issue than I originally expected (I do live in a climate that is not overly hot and humid, though). I avoid using a backpack (in favor using panniers) so that my back isn't all sweaty, and for the rest I find that the sweat dries up quickly and doesn't leave a trace. In the worst case I take a spare t-shirt and a deodorant stick.


You don't. I would be worried whether the cow-orkers share this view (simply because everybody is habituated to their own smell, not noticing it as much).

Good point with the backpack though - with it, I was sweating like a racehorse, even after coming out of the shower; without, I was only sweating.


On my morning commute it's not bad, because mornings are cool. If I put on a windbreaker due to the chill, then I get a little bit sweaty. Once I stop riding, the sweat naturally dries after a few minutes. I don't need a shower just because I perspired somewhat.

If I'm going down to San Jose I'm probably meeting friends at a bar or going to a show or something. Hardly the end of the world to work up a mild sweat and then my body dries after I stop, then as I start to feel a chill, I put warmer clothes on. It's not an issue.


Yeah, subway being "wonky" lately is putting it lightly.

I'd love to bike to work. When I lived back in Europe, I used to bike every day to work and back. However, biking in NYC is just insanely dangerous in comparison. I'm really surprised how people do it at all. There aren't real bike paths, and you're supposed to bike on the road right next to all the cars. That's constantly being just one small mistake away from injury/death. I just don't want that risk.


There are a few different types of paths - some main avenues have separated, dedicated paths - meaning a row of parked cars separates you from the traffic. There are also dedicated paths on the west side and central park. The bridges are also dedicated paths. You will likely need to spend some time on the "fake" paths to use them, but accessibility to the dedicated paths is pretty good and due to the layout of the manhattan (narrow) - if you're traveling north/south, you can probably spend the majority of your commute on the dedicated ones.


I feel the same way. I would LOVE to bike to work in NYC, but I'm just too terrified that one wrong move will end my life. Several of my friends have been in close-call bike accidents. It's not something I want to risk every single day.


The closest I've been to death was in a car, but I still drive. And I bike commute.


Agreed. Most people really underestimate the benefits.

- I save $1700/yr on transit (Toronto TTC Pass). Savings would be even higher if I drove (parking costs, maintenance)

- Massive health benefit from of turning 3hr/week of commute from sitting into cardio: https://theconversation.com/cycling-to-work-major-new-study-...

- Others: Time savings, commute consistency, happiness


Just be aware that heavy exercise near significant car exhaust is fairly bad for your lungs. If you go a moderate pace it's not that bad, but if you like going all out a face mask is a good investment.


The benefits of exercise actually usually outweigh harm from pollution in many developed cities, e.g. London: https://ig.ft.com/sites/urban-cycling/assets/pollution-londo...

Of course if you live in a very polluted city the harm is much more pronounced: https://ig.ft.com/sites/urban-cycling/assets/pollution-world...

Source: https://ig.ft.com/sites/urban-cycling/


Fine particulate pollution is the easiest to filter, but not the only harm from urban air. Many chemicals like NOx compounds, CO, etc are not healthy.

Including increased accident risks, particulate, and chemical pollution together is a very different risk profile vs comparing all benefits vs a subset of downsides.

That said, you can filter out most particulates and there is little reason not to take this precaution.


I read somewhere that being in a car doesn’t protect against it either, so if it’s a choice between driving and biking then biking is still better.


Exercise increases the body's need for oxygen > which increases the rate you breath in air > which increases exposure over the same time frame.

Also, many cars include high quality air filtration which really does help.

But again, just buy a mask and deal with the actual problem.


I assume the study I read about used moderns cars to test.


I wonder how the health trade off between breathing emissions while cycling vs. lack of exercise while driving and obesity risk works.


I suspect it's age dependent as cycling before 35 is unlikely to extend your life significantly, but adds risks. Some bike heavy countries don't have unusually long lifespans which IMO supports that line of thinking. With age exercise becomes increasingly important, so it probably flips at some point.

However, like a bike helmet an air filter is at most a minor inconvenience.


What’s breathing through one like when working hard? I’m imagining I would feel suffocated.


Depends on the mask. A good one is only really noticeable as something on your face. I find it easier to breath as the air feels cleaner and my chest feels less tight.

PS: I suspect re-breathing a tiny amount of CO2 probably has a measurable impact over a longer race. (Don't have data on this though.)


Thus burning fuel around others is a very obvious criminal offense.


It's not just fuel, you get particulate from break pads and tires etc. Remember when car pars get worn down that stuff ends up in the air.


NYC bike commuting is great. In manhattan, the west side and central park paths are the best - I could do 90% of my commute on them and basically avoided cars except for the side streets. I commuted 5 miles and would often beat the subway time-wise. It's a great way to wake up too, you start the day off feeling good


I think 'it's great' is quite an overstatement. For example, there's a bike lane all the way down 2nd Ave from the 59th Street bridge, but it's largely ignored by cars and parked trucks.

To the degree that it might make cyclists feel confident and less hyper-vigilant b/c there are lines on the pavement, I think it's actually more dangerous than no bike lane.


Counterpoint: when there isn't a bike lane, some drivers feel righteous anger against cyclists and engage in extremely dangerous driving tactics.


Accepted. I think the solution involves better delineation and real legal consequences, based on cyclist-friendly laws, when drivers are found at fault in collisions with cyclists.


In Seattle I watch cyclists randomly weave from the bike lane into the car lane and back again. These are adults, not kids. It blows my mind.


There is no such thing as a 'car lane'— just general traffic lanes.

Cyclists usually leave the bike lane because it's blocked by lawbreaking drivers or because they need to make a turn, not for funsies.


I have been commuting from Queens to Midtown manhattan for over 2 years now. In the beginning, I was super scared of all the cars and pedestrians.

However, now the situation is a lot better compared to few years back. More bicycling on the road mean the pedestrians, cabs and cars know how to behave.

To a lot of people who think it is dangerous, it can be remarkably non-dramatic affair. With better bike lane markings, traffic that is moving very slow, and more bicyclist on the road, it has never been a better time to start riding in NYC. With experience, you develop almost telepathic sense about the people and cars around you and how to anticipate their moves. If you were scared before, try now and take it easy the first few months while you get used to it.


This is similar to my experience—6 miles between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The protected lanes are surprisingly dangerous when there’s no separate turn signal for cars. Compare 1st Ave to 8th Ave for an example. That said, it still feels way safer than biking in the suburbs, where cars will go 40 mph around a blind corner because there’s not much traffic.


If you don't mind me asking, how do you deal with the sweat? Do you shower on arrival?

I would love to bike, but no showers at my current workplace :/


Keep your effort below the sweat threshold on the way there. Think walking-effort, not running-effort.

Bikes are about 4x more efficient, so for short and moderate distances, even walking-effort will get you there in reasonable time.

If you sweat at a walking-effort, try dressing lighter or as others have suggested, use wet wipes and spare clothes at work.

You can also consider an e-bike to avoid sweating on the way to work. On the commute home, use less assist if you want more exercise.


Shower beforehand, keep an easy pace and when you arrive, do a quick clean with wet wipes if necessary. Depending on the distance and temperatures where you live, you might want to keep a change of clothes at work. Use panniers instead if you have a backpack to keep the back from sweating up.


I found a gym near my work. You can always cycle slowly from the gym to work.

You can also get an electric bicycle and use less effort so that you don't sweat.


My office has showers. I wouldn't bike to work otherwise. I'm in Austin, so for a few months of the year, just standing outside is enough to start sweating.


Shower beforehand, fresh clothes every day, sport underwear to cool efficiently (it is not visible under typical office clothes), selected clothes to ventilate _gently_ whole body, but to look like normal casual clothes, buff at face in case of cold weather, etc.


Pretend you are walking; move your feet at walking pace and have that be enough to move the pedals without too much force.

You'll still go 3-4x faster than walking, but it'll be the same amount of effort.


I wear a T-shirt (under my jacket in winter) and bring a shirt to change into in my backpack. My T-shirt is usually pretty sweaty but once I change into a fresh shirt it’s fine.


I did this for 2 years, 10 miles in and 10 miles back. There was a shower directly above my office. Everything was super convenient, lost 20 pounds and felt great and rode fast.

Back to driving now, so fed up of the weather here in Seattle to do this during the winter, put the weight back on.

But yes, find someplace to shower. Or, bus in and ride home so you can shower when you get home.


Everything others already said, AND: don't wear a backpack.

Get a cargo rack + Wald folding pannier baskets, and put your cargo there. Ride with a messenger bag, if needed.

Then you'd sweat no more than you would while walking (if cycling at an appropriate pace).


Bikes have few problems with traffic because entire rights-of-way are dedicated to a tiny constituency. As bicycling gains popularity, I fully expect bike lanes to exhibit the same traffic problems as car lanes. You’ll still get more throughout from the space, but with a density of bikes meeting or exceeding the density of cars, traffic will certainly become a thing.

Now, as always, it’s a good idea to arbitrage and take advantage of underutilized infrastructure, but I wouldn’t expect the underutilization to last.


Bicycles are inherently more space-efficient than cars— the space-inefficiency of which is the root cause of urban automobile congestion: http://urbanist.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83454714d69e2017d3c37d8a... As cycling becomes more popular, the larger cycling constituency will be able to demand more road space— but congestion will much less of a problem, because it simply requires less space to move a large number of people on bicycles (or in trains or on busses).

NYC definitely has 'bicycle traffic' these days, especially around choke points like the bridges. But it essentially never has traffic jams, except during the 5 Boro Bike Tour.


We have learned from freeway expansion projects that constant-factor improvements in capacity induce growth in utilization until we return to an equilibrium level of congestion. We're in the early stages of this process for bicycles, so the pain is low for now, as it was when early adopters had the brand-new interstate highways all to themselves. As it was, more recently, when hybrids were allowed in the Bay Bridge flyover lane. What happened? Everybody got a Prius.

For environmental, health, and inclusivity reasons (constant factor improvements in transportation capacity do, after all, mean constant factor improvements in access to cities) it may be preferable to have gridlock in bicycles rather than gridlock in private cars.

But don't think for a second that we can grow sprawling mega-regions indefinitely without gridlock.


The limit on growing a mega-region with bicycles is simply that bicycles' limited speed makes them impractical for travel of more than 10 miles for most people.

But Tokyo's 38M-citizen megaregion of train stations accessed by pedestrians and cyclists[0] is probably the best-scaled megaregion yet to exist.

[0]See this random suburban station in Tokyo full of parked bicycles: https://www.google.com/maps/@35.7324121,139.4176845,3a,73.1y...


In the Netherlands, a significant part of the population uses bikes. I lived in Groningen, where a large chunk of the students and people who work in the city travel by by bike. I lived there for many years, and the only problem I ever had was bicycle parking.

Never had an accident (well, except the one time I tried to drive from a road onto a pavement with an angle of attach of 10 degrees, which resulted in some scratches ;)). I can't recall any of my friend having a serious accident.


This makes no sense. There's a limit to how densely people can live, and I see no reason bicycle infrastructure can't support all of those commuters, even if it has to be expanded somewhat.

We DEFINITELY know roads can't scale enough to handle the cars, but when each person takes up a tiny fraction of the space they take up now in their cars (plus closer following distances due to lower speeds), there's simply no problem.

I've commuted in places where there is lots of cycling, for example Munich, and yes, you have 'normal' car-like traffic (sometimes in a row of 10 bicycles and you might have to wait for faster bikes to pass before your chance to pull out to pass) but it's not gridlock like in cars on the streets.


I've ridden a bike in Amsterdam; traffic is definitively a thing. Then again, traffic can be a thing even on foot.


Weather aside, if I had a clear way to secure my bike I'd use that everyday. Robbers are just too damn motivated.


NYC tech employers generally allow bringing your bike into the office.

The city requires buildings to allow bicycles in if tenants want it: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2016/09/14/three-bills-enhancing...

You can also consider buying a folding bicycle like a Brompton, which tidily fits under a desk and can be fitted with a cover to disguise its bicycle-ness, bicycles being mysterious anathema to many office buildings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ic6cssX_50


Maybe offices are secure enough, but I've read many report of bike stolen in private yards, buildings. Secured or not.


I found that typically as long as the lock cost 10% the value of the bike then the lock was good enough


Use a cheaper, junker bike for commuting, or a folding bike that you bring inside.


Sadly junker bike gets stolen as much if not better, because it's easy to scrap.

I know, my beloved piece of shit mountain bike has been stolen, it had zero value (had no seat, one pedal missing, cheapest ruined part everywhere, ugly) except for sentimental one. Yet it's gone.


I'm at my 12 year of every day bike commuting. Before I commuted 10 km each direction, now I'm at 6 km. If I have activities after work, I ride to them too. So my total ride length is a fair bit longer than what my commute is.

The public transportation network here in Stockholm is good, but wouldn't even consider cramming myself into a packed subway train or bus. Even at this time of the year when it's -5 degrees celcius and snowy I really enjoy my daily rides.

It cuts commuting time in half and I shave off another two hours of sitting without moving a day.

If possible, I highly recommend bike commuting. Get a good bike (with gears) and rack mounts for bags. Gravel/adventure bikes are fun to ride and work well on all surfaces. Supple 650b tyres are all the rage these days. They will give you plenty of comfort while sacrificing very little when it comes to performance[1].

Tomorrow I'll be going to the outskirts of town with work. Then it's 50 km. I already look forward to that workday adventure. :)

[1] https://janheine.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/12-myths-in-cyclin...


I commuted by bike for years in NYC and frankly I do not recommend it. The traffic has always been bad but it’s now significantly worse, and the bike lanes that exist make riding even more dangerous. You are always within reach of parked cars doors, and the lack of a physical barrier on most lanes means they are often driven over by cars.

Perhaps worst of all, even faulty bike lanes give cyclists a sense of entitlement and false security. The fact remains the roads were not built for cycling and cars always win in a battle for space.

I’d love to see bike-only roads, routes, or such. But until there is both proper segregation and consequences when cars kill cyclists (there are currently none) it’s a death wish.

Every day I see eager young cyclists riding with no helmet, no lights, and not infrequently without brakes (on fixies) and I am compelled to yell out my advice on working harder at staying alive.


Commuted for years, also Brooklyn to Manhattan about the same distance. Had to stop due to back issues but I can echo all the OP’s benefits.

Biking is somewhat dangerous in NYC, and every other American city. I agree with OP that NYC drivers are generally very good though. It’s the bikers responsibility to bike as though drivers are -trying- to kill you. First heard that advice when riding motorcycles and it’s stuck with me.

I’ve been in a few spills on my bike. A big one with a pedestrian who strolled into a protected high speed path at prospect park. Another one with an invisible pothole at night in park slope. The last was pure user error, riding tipsy from my local bar home :)

Generally, riding in nyc, like walking in nyc, is a unique skill set. You really MUST be able to do things like look behind you while riding, and it’s quite helpful to be able to accelerate to near traffic speeds. Of course you must assume any car door can open at any time. Route planning also goes a long way; it’s usually worthwhile to take a slightly longer route to stay on smooth streets or protected lanes. Extra wide one-way streets in Brooklyn are generally quite good for cyclists as well.


> Generally, riding in nyc, like walking in nyc, is a unique skill set

I don't mean to fear monger, but I suspect that confidence is just as dangerous as ignorance when you're on a bike in NYC. Very experienced cyclists also end up dead: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/26/nyregion/cyclists-death-s...

Cycling in NYC can be fun, healthy, and might eventually help push the city into better accommodating non-vehicular traffic. But it's also particularly dangerous, there is no getting around that.


I'm not sure that a story of one experienced rider being struck and killed invalidates the common sense argument that more experience is better than less experience.

I did not mean to impress that the techniques I mentioned above, if mastered, would result in 100% safe riding.

As far as biking being particularly dangerous in NYC, you'd need stats like miles traveled vs fatalities for a number of major cities to make that determination. It might be more dangerous in NYC, but it might not.


> The last was pure user error, riding tipsy from my local bar home :)

Doesn't that count as DUI where you live?



probably yeah.


Don't ride in the door zone. Don't let cars make you ride in the door zone. Take the car lane instead.

I've gone 15,000 miles safely in dense urban environments because I am heads-up about the 2 main threats: intersections, and the door zone.


Just be prepared to be ticketed by overzealous NYPD cops.

http://gothamist.com/2017/04/28/nypd_bike_lane_tickets.php


> Don't ride in the door zone. Don't let cars make you ride in the door zone. Take the car lane instead.

Please don’t do this. During the time that I commuted on a bicycle, it was very frustrating when other cyclists didn’t follow the rules of the road (zipping through stop signs is another example). It causes resentment in drivers. This leads to aggressive behavior towards cyclists.


You are mistaken about what the rules are in most states. To take one example, in California, you own the lane and cars cannot pass unless they can give you three feet of clearance.

http://ktla.com/2013/09/23/gov-brown-signs-law-requiring-car...


I don't care how much resentment it causes that should never result in aggressive behavior towards cyclists.

As if one cyclists behavior should or could influence a vehicle operators behavior towards other people sharing the road. Utterly ridiculous. Anybody that is not capable of keeping their emotions bottled up to the point where they will take out their frustrations on unprotected bags of fluid from within a ton+ of armor should be relieved of their license.

If you can't safely pass your place is clear: behind the other traffic.


I don't know the rules of the road for NYC. Where I'm from though, you are supposed to take the lane. Quite frankly, it's insane not to take the lane, since people think they can pass you in their car, while staying in the same lane.


Traffic lanes are rarely wide enough for two vehicles to travel side by side with sufficient space between them.

For example, on a street with 10 foot wide lanes, a 6 foot wide car would have a margin of 2 feet on either side of it and 4 feet between it and a car in the adjacent lane. For buses that are 8.5 feet wide, they have about 0.75 feet on each side and 1.5 feet between them and another bus in an adjacent lane.

A cyclist is about 2 feet wide at a minimum. To have a 2 feet of space on each side, they need a lane that's 6 feet wide. To have 0.75 feet on each side, they need a lane that's 3.5 feet wide.

For the car and bus examples above, neither can leave enough space in the lane while they're in it for a cyclist. So the only way to safely pass one is to change lanes.


>Please don’t do this.

Please do. Being doored isn't something you want to have happen to you; and can have pretty life changing results if you're unlucky.

If you're in a car and you can't pass if someones riding out of the door zone then you probably don't have room to pass anyway.


In most (all?) states in the US cyclists are legally allowed to take the lane when it is unsafe to stay to the right.


The UVC (Uniform Vehicle Code) that most states base their traffic laws on states that bicycles do not have to keep as far right as practicable when the lane they're in is a substandard width lane. They further go on to define a substandard width lane as one where a cyclist and another vehicle cannot travel safely side by side with both vehicles within the lane.


Cycling in NYC is highly dependent on the bike lanes on your route. There are good stretches of quality bike lane here and there (especially in Brooklyn), however there are parts of e.g. Chinatown that I would not recommend on a bike.


I would add to that list the entirety of Queens, where I regularly see people cycling down Northern Boulevard. I'm not familiar with roads in other cities to compare it to, so you'll have to use your imagination when I say: it's very dangerous.


Much of Queens Boulevard already has a protected bike lane, and more will soon: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2017/08/04/eyes-on-the-street-th...


None of the bike lanes on Queens Boulevard are protected. And according to the article, when it is "protected", it will be with "plastic posts".

Here's what cement dividers on Norther Boulevard protect riders from (scroll down for photos): http://qns.com/story/2017/12/07/poorly-designed-hastily-cons...


I have never looked at the data for NYC but for many cities cycling is about as dangerous as walking. The data might surprise you.


Driving without brakes is just ridiculously dumb in general, but especially so in a place like NYC.


have been riding in NYC for past 2 years. I do agree that bike lanes give you a false sense of security. You have to remain vigilant at all times. It's not that stressful. For me, I have come to enjoy riding in the city now. You need time to develop the sense of various moving objects around you.


At least on the island of Manhatto, the roads were not built for cars, either ;)


I'd hate to ride anything 'supple' on my commute path, which includes a lot of debris and broken bottles.

I do miss riding on smaller wheels though. 26" was much nicer to get rolling than 700c, and there's a lot of stop-start. 26" rigid bike are extinct now though it seems.


Parent is suggesting combining 650b/27.5" wheel sets with large volume 27.5" tires. This gives you an outer wheel diameter near a 700c wheel. Something like this Durano 27.5 x 1.10 tire [1] and sealant would make for a bomb proof commuter.

[1] https://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/racing_tires/durano...


Only thing keeping me from commuting year round is lack of studded tires. I'll have to fix that until next year, because as I'm standing here, hoping for a train that's not jam packed, I really miss cycling.


I've been mostly biking to work for years now, on an island off the northwestern coast of Norway.

I have found that studded tyres are more of an annoyance than an asset on 99 out of 100 winter days.

On anything but wet ice, regular tyres do surprisingly well - to the extent that I've felt no need for studs at all during quite literally thousands of kilometers of riding in the snow - yes, grip is not as good as on asphalt, but then again - studs will not magically make the road bare; they only give you a bit of extra margin under very specific conditions - wet ice, basically.

On wet ice, studded tyres will just postpone the inevitable. You WILL topple. On those days, I just jump in the car.

Additionally, the noise of a set of properly studded tyres is enough to drive me nuts, though obviously YMMV.


Thanks for this! I biked many years throughout the year to work in Finland but after series of bronchitis hitting me on consecutive winters I quit winter biking. I'm thinking maybe I could try again - and given your analysis I'll not let my lack of winter tyres stop me :)


Just avoid slicks (d’oh!) and you’ll likely be fine. The only concession I’ve made to winter conditions is riding at slightly lower tyre pressure to get a larger contact surface. In snow it doesn’t make much of a difference, but on ice it works wonders.

As for the bronchitis, I’ve luckily steered clear - but a colleague of mine who had it good and hard a couple of times swear that since he started wesring a mask, he hasn’t had even a hint of it.


I have ridden with studded tires but have found that my normal skinny road tires do surprisingly well for our winters here in (Canada).


I agree. I biked in today after it snowed maybe 4 inches last night. If i had studded tires it would have been nicer but my slicks do pretty well. And really if there is ice few tires will really protect you from slipping.

The thing that gets me is roads that are sort of driven on. Heavily trafficked roads are great because cars usually expose the bare concrete and roads with no cars are great because you can ride through powder no problem. But when a few cars have created ruts...it make steering very difficult. I don't know if different tires help with this or if that's just the way it goes when you're total mass is <200 lb.


Studded tires make a significant different in ice, and can help to get our of those ice ruts as well. I went down enough times in the ice to move to carbide studded snow tires and it helped a lot. My bike commute is a lot farther now though (~20 miles) so I have downgraded to a fair weather cyclist.


I should really get some of these. I keep trying to "muscle through" but...it sucks.


Yeah, I know. It's just one of those things where I can picture myself climbing the Poisson CDF of inevitability...


They're quite affordable if ordered from Germany: https://www.bike24.com/p238233.html


Have you gotten in accidents?


I've fallen thrice (that I can remember). Two of these times was when I was stupid enough to ride on ice with slicks. The third time I tried to pull some fancy trick up a curb (just stupid). So, I've scratched my jeans. Other than that: nothing (touch wood). Nowadays I run studded tyres in the winter and they're crazy effective.

I don't recommend riding without a helmet or hövding, but this article gives you some insights into the risks of riding a bike in cities: https://www.vox.com/2014/5/16/5720762/stop-forcing-people-to...


How hostile are the drivers in Stockholm? Bay Area drivers aren’t super friendly to cyclists (to be fair, plenty of cyclists also behave like assholes, cutting in front of cars and crossing intersections when they shouldn’t.) My biggest concern during a year of using my bike to commute was making sure I didn’t get ran over by a car taking a turn, because signaling is not always their forte.


I don't find them to be very hostile. A lot of drivers are extremely stressed (particularly in the morning) and unfocused though. I always try to expect them not to see me at all and I pick safer roads over marginally shorter roads.

Some cyclists get very worked up by ill behavior from motorists, getting into dangerous situations to prove their point. Motorists are protected by a >1000 kg shield of metal, so I try just get on with my day.


cutting in front of cars and crossing intersections when they shouldn’t

What drivers who have never used a bicycle don't even consider is that as a cyclist you are extremely mobile and have a much better overview of the road. A cyclist can cross an intersection on red with little danger, a car attempting the same would be murderous.

In countries like the Netherlands most everyone has biked to school from the age of 6 before they are turned loose in a car at 18, there is much better mutual understanding between car drivers and bike riders over there.


It is NOT OK to go through red lights, whether in a car, on a bike or on foot. The rules are the rules and we should all abide them.

It happens all the time in London where bikes go through red lights and weave through pedestrians (sometimes at speed) who are crossing the road. Pedestrians are even worse - and often walk or run across red lights and almost get hit from a bus, car or bike. It’s madness!


I many places is is allowed and even encouraged for cyclists to go through red lights and stop signs. It's called the Idaho stop [0]. It's believed to be safer than waiting at the red light provided that the intersection is clear. Consider that rear-end collisions are the most common cause of cyclist fatalities [1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idaho_stop

[1] https://www.treehugger.com/bikes/how-get-killed-bike-your-ch...


This worries me. What if the intersection is clear but the joining roads are blind (as is often the case in old European cities). Could I cross the red light, get hit and then claim “well I was just following the Idaho stop... I’m not at fault here. The intersection was clear when I set off”?

I’m surprised about it being safer, and would be interested to see some stats on it. It could be more common in the US where cities are grids because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a near miss where a cyclist almost got rear ended in London. However, I do see a lot of cyclists getting cut off by buses and cars on corners and at junctions.


This kind of stuff gives cyclists a bad name. Everyone should follow the same rules. Makes commuting much more predicable.


> It is NOT OK to go through red lights, whether in a car, on a bike or on foot.

Actually, it depends.

Just last week, I learned that it is perfectly legal to jaywalk in Germany, IF it does not interrupt flowing traffic or endanger anyone. Also, you must take the shortest path (orthogonal to the lanes) when crossing a road. (§25 Abs. 3 StVO)

I jaywalk all the time. It's just ridiculous to wait at a red light when the street is completely empty.


No, it isn‘t legal to ignore a red light. How did you get that idea?


"Going through" a red light is not the same as "ignoring".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idaho_stop

Treating a red light as a stop sign is different from behaving as if it's not there.

In many provinces of Canada, motorists can turn right on a red light after coming to a full stop.


Still illegal in Germany.


I bike to work everyday and I don't follow the rules of the road, and neither should other cyclists.

In a system designed for cars, it's just false piety and won't keep you any safer.

The one rule I do follow is that I am courteous and polite to everyone, drivers and pedestrians alike, and I remain hyper alert to everything that is going on around me.

That's the only rule you need.


IMO The point of the rules are to remove as much subjection and interpretation to how road users should behave as possible.

For example, what should the rules be when overtaking other riders? Should I overtake on the outside or the inside? We know that having a rule on overtaking makes it much safer.

Courteous and politeness are great, but a lot of people don’t drive/ride/walk like that. What happens then?


If people aren't inclined to be polite or courteous, what makes you so sure they will follow 'the rules' anyway?


But following the rules makes you predictable in terms of what actions you're going to take and makes it easier for other road users to interact with you in a predictable manner.


I don't ride erratically because it freaks people and it's impolite.

It depends how many people are around, and on the entire situation.

I've had sketchy situations when stopping at stop signs. The drivers in my area don't expect cyclists to stop at stop signs, since most don't.

So in that case following the rules made me more unpredictable, and confused everyone involved.


I think the main problem is that we have traffic control devices that most people don't follow. For example, stop signs at roadways where yield signs would suffice. Traffic lights which don't switch to blinking mode when traffic volumes are low.

But there are situations where not following the rules makes things more dangerous for those involved. For example, a driver stopping to allow someone to make a left turn in front of them. That can be seen as a courteous gesture, but the car the next lane over that doesn't stop ends up broadsiding the vehicle making the left turn. In this case, just following the rules of the road would have prevented a crash like that.


To add a note of international confusion, in some parts of the US I believe it is legal to turn right through a red light.


Germany has a separate sign for this, the green arrow: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a9/Gr%C3%BC...

It means that when the traffic light shows red and you want to turn right, the traffic light works like a "STOP" sign instead.


  A cyclist can cross an intersection on
  red with little danger
Unfortunately, the 30% of riders who can't do this competently spoil things for the 70% of riders who can.

I don't own a car and I cycle thousands of miles a year, so I'm very much on the side of cyclists over motorists - but last year, as I walked across a pedestrian crossing with a green light, I was hit by a bicyclist running a red light - who promptly fled the scene without so much as an apology.

This kind of thing creates strong, memorable emotional responses people are keen to share. If I'd been more seriously injured, or if the fall had broken my expensive consumer electronics, or if I wasn't a cyclist, or if an infirm relative had been in the accident instead of me, even more so.

This being the case, it isn't realistic to convince other road users to approve of cyclists running red lights; getting them to do so is as unlikely as that last 30% of riders spontaneously becoming competent.


I find Bay Area drivers (Palo Alto) area to be polite, almost to a fault. I've had a few aggro assholes, but normally the problem is they're unpredictably nice.

For example, if a car passes me 50 feet before a stop sign and then either has their right turn signal on or otherwise indicates a turn (turns the wheels to the right as they stop), I often just pull in the lane behind them so there is no confusion about whether I'm going to get run over or not... but it seems to more often CAUSE confusion, because they're waiting for me to go by them on the right, which I appreciate the courtesy, they have the right of way.

I often have the same issue at 4-way stops; if they arrive before me and I slow to a stop and put my foot down, THEN they start waving me on and want me to go before them. Of course if I were to blow the stop sign, other people could potentially be annoyed by that. But only about 20% of drivers go before me when I arrive after them and stop and put my foot down.

Also, sometimes I try to pull into the "gaps" between parked cars to allow a car behind me to pass, if there is lots of space and I will not need to pull back into the lane for awhile.... but too often indecisiveness and timidity on the part of the driver mean now I'm having to negotiate my way back into the lane with a car still behind me.


What tires do you use to ride on ice? I've wiped out on ice myself, and it has scared me off from riding when it is icy.


Schwalbe Winter (30-622): https://www.schwalbe.com/en/spike-reader/winter.html

I rode a couple of kilometers on an iced lake some weeks ago without trouble.

There's also the more expensive Marathon Winter: https://www.schwalbe.com/en/spike-reader/marathon-winter.htm...

Marathon Winter has more studs. They're placed closer to the edge of the tyre and it's debatable how much difference if it makes if you don't lean into the curves. I try to lean less on frozen ground, so I suspect they would be pointless for me.

Studded tyres actually works best on ice. Theoretically, if snow covers the ice they could be ineffective. I myself have not found this to be a problem.


Another vote for schwalbe. I've put ~10k miles on non-studded marathons without a flat, so I went with those.


Yet another vote for them. After I tried my first set of Schwalbes, I've never looked back. They are terrific. (Marathon Plus MTBs, btw - works brilliantly on gravel, in moderate mud, snow and ice.)


Marathon Winters are the only ones that seem to be effective against the copious amounts of sharp stones used here in winter to sand all cycleways. Otherwise I have managed without studs the previous winters. But five flats during 250km of riding was too much.


I use the same tires in winter as in summer (normal city bike tires). But I ride them at much lower pressure (under 2bar vs 3.5bar in summer). Then they don’t slip at all.


I've been cycling to work in downtown LA for nearly 8 years, 4 miles each way. I'm faster than a car over that commute. The weather is fantastic, and I am physically in great shape. Mental benefits are huge.

I've gone about 15,000 miles in dense urban environments without any accidents of any kind. There are a number of keys to this:

- Think like a driver -- it helps to be a good driver first

- Think, period. Don't listen to music, pay attention.

- Don't ride in the door zone. Don't let drivers make you ride in the door zone. If you need the lane, take the lane. It's your right.

- Use flashing lights on front and back, at all times of day. Nobody else except emergency vehicles is allowed to have flashing lights. There's a good reason: they are unmissable and very distracting.

- Wear brightly colored shirts and a bright colored helmet.

- If you don't wear a helmet, don't worry about it, it doesn't mitigate that much risk. The exercise benefits of biking do way more to increase your life expectancy than skipping a helmet does to reduce it.


> If you don't wear a helmet, don't worry about it, it doesn't mitigate that much risk. The exercise benefits of biking do way more to increase your life expectancy than skipping a helmet does to reduce it.

This is very, very stupid advice.


I've biked heavily for 30 years... advising people to wear a helmet never works. What works 99% of the time is the first freak crash. Not a crash where they felt like they were speeding, or not paying attention, or drunk... then they think it was avoidable. It takes a crash where you hit a rare little crack in the road, or a bump hidden in the shadows, or a car doing a u-turn out of the blue... then it 'clicks' Or, in my case, you witness someone take a minor fall and tap their skull on a curb and seizure and not be quite the same from that point on. If you're reading this and don't wear a helmet, you should consider experimenting with mind altering drugs as well, may as well enjoy the moment.


Take everything you just said and apply it not to a bicycle helmet but to a full face motorcycle helmet.

Now do you see how you sound? Bike helmets marginally help, but the same marginal difference is found going from bicycle helmets to full face motorcycle ones.

I’ve broken my face in 4 places in a bike accident where the only thing that would have helped would have been a motorcycle helmet, but I don’t go around town wearing one or telling other people to. I like the air in my hair and I’m ok with the additional risk that not wearing any helmet carries. I’m careful in otherways but I’m an adult making an informed choice about the relative risk.


You don't actually need a full face motorcycle helmet, that's overkill for cycling speeds (and uncomfortable with exertion). I regularly commute to work by bike and after a bad fall where I almost landed on my face, I decided to upgrade from a normal helmet to a full face bicycle helmet. You can get a decent one for ~$150 and it'll give you some protection even if you fall flat on your face. Highly recommend as a normal helmet doesn't do much for your face and a lot of falls could result in facial damage.


Shoot, now I'm getting paranoid... I've talked to a handful of people in full helmet gear and it's a similar painful story... definitely thought about the face/chin-plant scenario. I prefer the full peripheral vision but I'd be singing a different tune if I lost teeth or broke a facial bone... sorry to hear about your accident.


To throw an anecdote in, my brother was riding straight through an intersection on green when a driver turned into him. Witnesses said he flew up around 10 feet, up and over the car, and completely shattered his helmet when he landed. He got out of the hospital after 2 days with 3 broken vertebrae. He likely would have been in for over a week if he hadn't died. That helmet made all the difference.

Yeah it's still probably a net increase on your life expectancy to ride without a helmet compared to driving, but most people wear seat belts even though almost every mile driven doesn't result in a crash.


I wear a helmet too!

But it doesn't change the truth of the sentence: "The exercise benefits of biking do way more to increase your life expectancy than skipping a helmet does to reduce it."


But that sentence doesn't make any sense! There is precisely ZERO reason to skip the helmet!


They're uncomfortable, mess up your hair, make you extra sweaty, and you need to put them somewhere.

None of these are good enough reasons to not wear a helmet while you're riding a bike, but any one of them would be a good enough reason to not ride your bike at all. That's the point OP is trying to make by saying you can skip your helmet if you want.


"They're uncomfortable"

If that's true, then you are not wearing a properly fitted one.


Okay, would it be better if I said less comfortable?


That assertion is incorrect. There are reasons. Reasons that you and I might find vain or foolhardy, but reasons nevertheless.


Maybe in the sense that there are reasons to shoot yourself in the dick, but I don't think anyone would take those as being a reasonable argument.


If that comparison was apt, we wouldn't see so many people out riding sans protection.

But we do, and it's because they have a share bike that didn't come with a helmet, or they were worried about messing up their hair, or they lost their helmet, or they left it at the destination, or they're a rebellious teenager who just doesn't care, or no-one educated them about the risks, or they just forgot to put it on.

A better comparison would be to flossing your teeth, or wearing sunscreen: everyone should do it, but not everyone will do it.


There is ZERO reason not to wear a helmet every time you leave the house. You could trip and fall at any moment!

Presumably, you're willing to accept that risk. Biking without a helmet is no doubt riskier than walking without one, but both activities are well within reasonable risk-taking range.

You don't need me to tell you why I don't like wearing a helmet when I bike; you already use all those same reasons to avoid wearing one when you walk.


"There is ZERO reason not to wear a helmet every time you leave the house. You could trip and fall at any moment!"

Not even close to the same thing. By being that absurd, you clearly are not wanting to engage in good faith.


I'm sorry that you think my position is absurd, but I assure you it's offered in good faith. There are only trade-offs. This isn't just a comment on the wisdom of helmets; this is, as far as I can tell, an actual feature of the universe we inhabit. There aren't "problems" and "solutions to problems"; there are only trade-offs.

I (honestly and in good faith) place walking and biking in the same "helmet not required" risk category. The point isn't whether or not you adjust the risk slider further in one direction than me. The point is to respond to the assertion that there is zero reason to avoid wearing a helmet. We all know that isn't true, or we'd all wear helmets all the way down the risk scale.

Where you place "time to put on a helmet" on the scale isn't really the point. The point is that the scale obviously exists and it's obviously the case that there are places on the scale where not wearing a helmet makes sense, because if it were literally the case that there were no tradeoffs, then there'd literally be no reason not to wear one at all times.

That's the reductio proof I'm trying to illustrate.


I totally agree. "Cyclists without helmets triple their chance of death by head injury" https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/10/15/cyclists_without...


Look at it in terms of effect on life expectancty.

The risk of death from 1 hour of cycling reduces life expectancy by about 24 minutes. Wearing a helmet probably changes this by a couple of minutes.

- http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/06/13/bicycling-the-safe...

- https://nwurban.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/cyclings-impact-on-...

1 additional hour of sitting and watching TV in the evening, in an already sedentary life, probably has a similar effect on life expectancy.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/get-up-get-out-dont...

The exercise you get from that same session of cycling for 1 hour INCREASES life expectancy from 3-9 hours.

- http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2013/03/minutes-exercise-longer...

- WHO study, http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/exercise-l...


Statistics don't work that way. Applying an aggregate metric (life expectancy) to an individual is what gets you statements like "Babe Ruth and I hit a combined 714 home runs", or beliefs like colonial Americans all dying by age 30 (they didn't; the average is heavily skewed due to child mortality).

Wearing a helmet doesn't increase the number of minutes of your life like you're winding a clock or something. It decreases the probability that you're dead by 40 from a preventable tragedy, leaving your parents without a child and your family without a parent.


I'm not sure it is appropriate to think about helmet use as having a bearing on life expectancy. The data on helmet accident avoidance is terrible. i.e. we have no idea what the severity of an accident "would have been" because that kind of data is never reported. Anecdotally, I've needed my helmet many times, but never reported its use to anyone.

you could theoretically look at the injury rate for non-helmeted people, but, again, you don't know how representative that rate is of the population. You are assuming that the non-helmeted accident statistics sample is representative of the cycling population. I am not sure that is true.


Almost everyone in the Netherlands is driving without. Should give a good comparative analysis.


Well, That is a very interesting example of why we can't compare populations. Many posts on HN have highlighted just how cycling-savvy the Dutch are both as cyclists and as motorists. Arguably, a Netherlands specific comparison would tell us something about whether helmets improved outcomes, but they wouldn't necessarily tell us anything about the rate, because falls may be less likely in the first place.


Not really. Cycling is everpresent in the Netherlands (at least in Amsterdam); drivers are very aware of cyclists. Not at all true in the States.


Your interpretation of these data is misleading at best and dangerously misleading at worst.

>The risk of death from 1 hour of cycling reduces life expectancy by about 24 minutes. Wearing a helmet probably changes this by a couple of minutes.

This data does not take road conditions into account. Most cyclists prefer to bike on roads with very few cars on them. For example the road outside my apartment, a two-lane road outside of town by a lake with no services, is always packed with cyclists. The boulevard connecting my road to the train station, however, is heavily car-trafficked and has almost no cyclists. It is wrong to apply data from cyclists on the first road to those biking on the second.

>1 additional hour of sitting and watching TV in the evening, in an already sedentary life, probably has a similar effect on life expectancy. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/get-up-get-out-dont....

This is double-counting. If you count sitting as a detriment, you can't turn around and count biking as an increment. There has to be a default from which to decrement or increment.

>[first link]>Every Minute Of Exercise Could Lengthen Your Life Seven Minutes

>[second link]>In fact, exercise was a bigger factor than body weight in many cases. People who were normal weight but were inactive actually lived an average of 3.1 fewer years than obese people who kept up high levels of activity.

This is an unjustified assumption of linear behavior. It's possible (likely IMO) that the first couple hours of exercise make a big difference coming from inactivity, but additional exercise on top of this likely has a smaller impact. The data only strongly indicate that cycling will have such a large impact on life expectancy if you already get very little exercise -- less than 2.5 hours/week of brisk walking. It is hard to believe, for example, that biking for 4 hours per day would increase life expectancy by 13 years -- there are practically no interventions known to have such a large effect!


> "Cyclists without helmets triple their chance of death by head injury"

Nope. The correct interpretation is 'cyclists without helmets who get into a serious crash triple their chance of death by head injury'. The study doesn't look at cyclists who don't crash. This is important, because you can't assume that all cyclists have an equally likely chance of having a serious crash. I'm going to be riding with a helmet on regardless of the law, but by making helmets mandatory, you kill off so much transport and utility cycling which was at low risk levels.

> The study also cites Victoria, Australia, as an example of successful legislation. Helmet use in the city increased from 31 per cent to 75 per cent after the introduction of mandatory helmet legislation, and cycling fatalities decreased by 48 per cent.

Yes, but a major reason for those reductions are because people stopped cycling after the introduction of those laws. See http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1194.html - "In 1985-6, 3.4 per cent of trips in Melbourne were by bicycle. In 2004 this was only 2.0 per cent, suggesting that cycling was still much reduced compared with before the helmet law". Trauma surgeons are happy, public health experts are not.


I would suspect that "$PEOPLE without helmets triple their chance of death by head injury". I also suspect that there are more car drivers with head injuries than cyclists, because there are much more car drivers to begin with. Should you wear a helmet in a car? Should you wear a helmet as a pedestrian?

After five minutes of googling, I sadly did not find any relevant statistics.


Causation/correlation. The population of cyclists who ride without a helmet is unlikely to be the same as the population who rides with one.


Pedestrians without helmets triple their chance of death by head injury. Car drivers without helmets triple their chance of death by head injury. Bather without helmets triple their chance of death by head injury. And so on.


Most people here seems to miss the point. If you tell people to wear an helmet to cycle, they won't cycle.


The assumption is that wearing a helmet somehow reduces the odds of exercise. Just keep your helmet with your bike, and you'll never forget it.

I've been cycling to work for years, which which has varied from 10 miles one way, to 1 mile. I always wear my helmet, and in all these years an many thousands of bike miles, it only been "useful" once. A drainage grate was covered over with leaves, I didn't see it, my front wheel fell in, fork snapped off, and I flew over the handlebars, headfirst into the curb. My helmet split in two and I had a massive head bruise, but had I not been wearing it, I'd be dead.


> wearing a helmet somehow reduces the odds of exercise

Helmet paranoia DOES reduce the odds of exercise. On a group level, at the level of public health, that's PRECISELY what it does. I encourage you to read about it, that's why they call it the helmet paradox. This piece is a nice summary.

http://www.howiechong.com/journal/2014/2/bike-helmets

Bike helmets protect our heads, but they also do the following:

1. increase your chances of getting in an accident

2. discourage cycling

Here's what to do:

1. If you want to be healthy, ride a bike instead of driving.

2. If you want to be even healthier, consider maybe putting on a helmet, but be mindful it doesn't increase your risk-taking behavior.

I choose option 2, but option 1 is also great.



> Helmet proponents are right about one thing: If you're in a serious accident, then wearing a helmet makes the odds of a head injury significantly lower — by somewhere between 15 and 40 percent. (This is why ER doctors and brain surgeons are so pro-helmet — they've seen firsthand what happens in helmet-less accidents.)

So this is why most of us wear a helmet. The logic is not "so few people get in accidents that if I wear a helmet it is likely to be overkill!". The logic is "if I get in an accident I will be very glad I am wearing this."

Generally, you prepare for the worst, not hope that you are on (typo) the right side of statistics.


For this reason, I wear a helmet. But the health benefits of cycling vastly swamp the risk of death, so the helmet gain is only a small marginal difference.

The person who is truly taking a risk is the person who doesn't ride a bike because of the perception that it's dangerous, and continues to be sedentary and drive a car to work. This person is literally reducing their life expectancy by years. (See links I posted elsewhere in the thread.)

You need to be able to think about conditional probability.


> so the helmet gain is only a small marginal difference

This is such, such flawed logic. If you are a cyclist getting hit by a car, the averages and statistics don't matter at all. If you are the cyclist getting hit by a car, the helmet is not a "marginal difference". Your protective gear matters. You need to consider the individual cyclist when you are making sweeping statements about the usage of protective gear.


If I were not wearing a helmet routinely I'd be so paranoid about getting hit/falling/some injury that there would be no health benefits at all. Wearing a helmet is comfortable, relatively in expensive and life saving. There is really no argument to be made to not have one on your head. I can't believe you are needing to even make a pro-helmet case at all here.


Arguments:

1. Wearing makes you less cautious

2. Car drivers think ‘you’re protected’ thus make larger risks

3. Helmets are inconvenient to carry around at your destination

4. It hampers the development of saver bicycle road situations, since ‘the cyclists are already protected’

I’m dutch, driving without a helmet since forever (started at 2 years old). Most serious accidents on the road that I know of are broken colar bones, broken hips and broken wrists. You really need a strange fall the land on your head. I guess with a head-on collision perhaps?


Wearing safety gear should never be a crutch to lean on for you to practice unsafe acts. A helmet is there should anything go wrong and you should always be riding as cautiously and defensibly as possible.

If a helmet is inconvenient to carry around then certainly the bag full of clothes, shoes, gloves is also inconvenient but none of that should prevent you from biking.

> It hampers the development of saver bicycle road situations, since ‘the cyclists are already protected’

This honestly sounds like very faulty logic. It's like saying there's no need for stop lights because drivers are wearing seatbelts. They'll be ok.

I've fallen sideways on ice several times. Once hitting my head. I would never want to hit my skull on concrete from a ~5 ft fall because not wearing a helmet is slightly more convenient.


The classic bike/head injury is riding into a crack (or grating) that grabs the front tire and stops the bike, hurling the rider over the handlebars and hammering them headfirst into the ground.


Been there, done that. Catch yourself on your hands/elbows. If you can’t, then perhaps you should go slower over such terrain. We dutchies coast on average around 20 km/h (12.5 mph). Anyone going above 30 is deemed “racing bicyclist” and they usually do wear helmets. They are a class on their own and are often hated by car drivers, since they think they have the road for themselves.


It sounds like your recommended safety practice is basically not to get hurt and if something does happen to have the strength to stop yourself form flying over the handles bars unexpectedly. This is not a good long term solution. Maybe if you're putzing around town that works ok but if you are ever riding in traffic or at speed this is a recipe for disaster.


So that's the difference. Anybody commuting in America is going as fast as practicable, and owns a road bike. Cruising is more like 32km/h(20mph). Since the average distance from home to work can be many miles, speed is paramount.

Also, any terrain in the US is 'such terrain'. There's little or no accommodation for bikes, and the roads (for cars) consider cracks of 1 inch or so as negligible. Also gratings by curbs (where bikes are expected to ride) often have slots of that size. There's a public-education effort to get gratings turned at right angles to traffic, but most traffic departments are disdainful of bikes.


Bit of a late reply. I find this difference so difficult to grasp. We use our bikes as a utility first and recreation second. Here the bicycles are generally sturdy, heavy, robust. They can take rain, wind, sand, dust for years with minimal maintenance. We don't go fast, but we arrive at our destination without gasping for a breath. Road bikes are seen as unpractical: the chains require weekly maintenance, sitting forward is more dangerous and gives you a bad overview of the road, they don't take rain well (rust) and they wear down relatively fast. Why use them for your commute? It doesn't make sense! It's like taking a sports-car to work every single day. It's fun the first day, but it gets boring, expensive and impractical rather quickly.

Examples: https://www.batavus.nl/stadsfietsen


...because you're going 20 miles, and can't take 2 hours to get to work?


As a gating item to riding at all, its arguably a negative influence on public health. Since otherwise exercise-leaning people might not do it if they couldn't work the helmet into their schedule (have it at all; carry it with them all day)


If you are a cyclist getting hit by a car, a helmet is not designed to help you.


> If you are a cyclist getting hit by a car, the averages and statistics don't matter at all.

But helmet design standards do. A helmet meeting the CPSC standards isn't designed to protect you in impact with a motor vehicle.


Think about what you're saying. You'd rather it be your skull to get hit directly. Why?


If car seat belts were designed and tested in frontal impacts at up to 20 mph, then would you believe that they would make a difference when traveling at 60 mph?

Because you're basically saying that bike helmets would make a difference in a collision scenario where the impact force would far exceed their design and impact testing standards.


Yes, absolutely I'd rather be wearing a seat belt designed to to a 20 mph spec in a 60 mph crash than no seat belt at all. I'd take anything at all to slow down my body/brain from coming to a complete stop.

The sudden stopping is what kills. If the only thing slowing down my brain is my skull then that is worst case scenario, unless of course, my skull shatters, then I guess my brain slows down at a more acceptable rate as it spills onto the road.

I'll take anything at all between my brain and a hard object trying to rapidly impart some force unto it. A helmet does this very well.


> I'd take anything at all to slow down my body/brain from coming to a complete stop.

Except that in this case, the belt just comes off its anchor points and doesn't slow you down at all. Just like a bridge rated for a 10,000 lbs load will collapse when a fully loaded 80,000 lbs tractor trailer drives over it.

If something is going to work, then it had to be designed and tested for it. You can't simply believe it's going to work in situations that it wasn't designed and/or tested for.


Let's say you're on the 10th story of a burning building and the fire department is below telling you to jump. They have one of those cartoon sheets to catch you but it's only rated to catch people falling from the 5th story. If you jump you'll hit the sheet at 40 mph but break through it and hit the ground at 10 mph. Do you shout at them to take the sheet away because you want to hit the ground at the full 40 mph because the sheet won't do enough good?

Edit: and just to address this specifically

> Except that in this case, the belt just comes off its anchor points and doesn't slow you down at all.

This is not true because the energy that went into breaking that anchor point is energy your body is no longer carrying. The belt did slow you down and even in breaking could still have saved your life.


> The person who is truly taking a risk is the person who doesn't ride a bike

No, that is not what "risk" means. Sedentary people can still be fairly certain that they will die when they are over 60, even if it's a few years earlier than they would if they were active.

A cyclist without a helmet has a much greater chance of dying an an unpredictable time. That is what "risk" means.


Lots of ordinary activities present a similar or greater risk of head injury than cycling. Do you wear a helmet to get into the bathtub? Do you wear a helmet to climb the stairs?

The problem with the helmet debate isn't that it's wrong, but that it's irrelevant. Every minute spent arguing about helmets is a minute that isn't spent making the most important point - cyclists live longer than non-cyclists, regardless of whether they wear a helmet. Wear a helmet, don't wear a helmet, it doesn't really matter. TO AVOID A PREMATURE DEATH, MOVE YOUR BODY.


> The logic is not "so few people get in accidents that if I wear a helmet it is likely to be overkill!". The logic is "if I get in an accident I will be very glad I am wearing this."

You could use the same logic to justify extreme defenses against all kinds of rare-but-deadly events. You should be wearing a helmet in your car to protect against accidents in which your head hits the side window. You should be carrying a rifle to fight off wildlife every time you go for a hike. You definitely shouldn't be crossing any streets in auto-heavy cities. (And we could go on and on and on like this. There's no reason to even leave your house! Better to get everything delivered and not risk contact with the world at all!)

Everything is a tradeoff. There are no absolutes. Just tradeoffs.


> (This is why ER doctors and brain surgeons are so pro-helmet — they've seen firsthand what happens in helmet-less accidents.)

Except for the fact that the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) impact testing standards for bicycle helmets only test for impacts for a guided free fall drop from a height of 6.5 feet. That's the equivalent of someone falling over while doing a track-stand on the bicycle.

If you're going 25 mph and hit the ground, the helmet won't protect from an impact it wasn't designed or tested for.

The second problem is that helmets won't protect you from forces that lead to concussive type injuries.

If you really want adequate head protection, then you need to wear a motorcycle helmet.


Such a bummer -- the rest of the post was so good. It's really easy to say "I've never had an accident" and "don't worry about not wearing a helmet".


this is like saying you can keep drinking whiskey after quiting smoking because your life expectancy is greatly increased. these things are additive, not either/ors.


Actually not wearing a helmet is very clever advice. In the Netherlands almost nobody wears a helmet and yet it is one of the safest places to cycle. In fact we all tend to overcompensate safety with more risky behaviour. A car is basically a 1.5t full body steel armor. And then we go and drive at speeds far beyond of what this armor can protect us from. If you'd remove the body work and make it a buggy, people would drive a lot slower.

Personal anecdote: I bought a helmet a few years ago. While it was still in delivery I came into a situation where I was not sure what a car was doing and I caught myself thinking: "with a helmet I'd not braked" - but rather taken the risk.

Thus I have never worn it and it is sitting there collecting dust.

Another abstract example: no country is more obsessed with "low carb" and "low fat" than the US. Yet no other country produces more plus sized people than the US.

Yet another example is Michael Schumacher. Without the helmet he may not have taken the risk to go into unknown terrain.

I feel vulnerable without a helmet and that keeps me alive.


This is heavily disputed. I suggest you read both sides of the argument and say something constructive.


Citation needed.

(FWIW, I always use a helmet except when I use shared bikes, which is rare, only a few times a year. I get on one of my own bikes, helmeted, hundreds of times a year.)


I really don't need to cite anything to tell you that if you get in an accident you are better off wearing more protective gear. I don't care that very few cyclists get in bad accidents compared to walkers and joggers. I care that if I am in an accident, my brain doesn't become a smear on the pavement.


You're assuming that accidents are equally likely with and without helmets and ignoring OP's point that, on balance, you're better off biking without a helmet than not biking at all.

You might actually be right here. I do not know. Either way, don't expect "I really don't need to cite anything" to convince anybody serious.


Don't understand why this has been downvoted. The research behind helmets is exactly why in The Netherlands helmets aren't mandatory. For one, they reduce the amount of people who cycle. Thus they take a car with higher speed, etc. Secondly, wearing a helmet causes cars to be less risk adverse when interacting with you. Lastly, most helmets are utter crap. They tested various and the majority sold in shops are of very poor quality (don't help at all).

Strangely, in Denmark most cyclists do wear a helmet. To me it's very inconvenient. E.g. where to store the damn thing when going anywhere?


I think it's better to concentrate on educating riders on bike handling skills and skills they need when riding in traffic rather than concentrate on helmet use to the exclusion of all else.


>>>If you don't wear a helmet, don't worry about it, it doesn't mitigate that much risk. The exercise benefits of biking do way more to increase your life expectancy than skipping a helmet does to reduce it.

I'd read somewhere that up until some fairly high speed (40 kph?) that a helmet doesn't measurably lower the risk of injury. (Citations, pro or con, welcome!)

And as the Vox piece points out, merely wearing a helmet induces drivers to reduce their caution, making the need for a helmet something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I still wear my helmet when I commute or do longer rides but I'm beginning to put my toe in the water by going helmetless for short trips to lunch, the nearby park, etc. It may be my self-awareness about going sans helmet talking, but I'd almost swear that when I ride 'au naturel' drivers make more eye contact and generally seem to acknowledge my presence more than when I'm fully kitted out.

Also: Schwalbe Marathons are the shiznitz. I have 42-622 Marathon Supremes on my new urban bike, and they grip like ... something really sticky ... and are like pillows, to boot (esp. coming off 25-622 road tires). More dough, but worth it for me. Zero flats in over two years, btw.

(me: occasional bike commuter here in West LA for about eight years)


Second vote for the Schwalbe Marathons. I got fed up with fixing a flat once a month when I lived in Pittsburgh and biked everywhere. Replaced my tires with Marathons and had to replace the tires for wear after a couple thousand miles before I patched another flat.


> If you don't wear a helmet, don't worry about it, it doesn't mitigate that much risk. The exercise benefits of biking do way more to increase your life expectancy than skipping a helmet does to reduce it.

What a bizarre contrast. If I'm inferring your point correctly, you're addressing those who would otherwise ride a bike to work but don't because of a helmet requirement? Is literally anyone in that position?

I get that biking + no helmet > no biking, but why is that relevant? Anyone commuting to work should have a plan to deal with a helmet, it's such a trivial thing to plan for and deal with compared to maintaining your bike, having parking for it, arranging showers, etc.

For the one off scenario where you don't have your helmet on hand, then it's more of an interesting question: "should I chance it and ride the bike without a helmet this one time?" But in that case, your statistics about life expectancy aren't going to be relevant in the health case; one bike ride is not going to make you more fit or not, but it's very relevant in the chances of getting hit by a car case.


https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2017/04/how-effective...

Key point for this discussion: "In 1993, New South Wales, Australia, commissioned a study to see if a new helmet law for children was increasing helmet uptake. It did—but the researchers also found 30 percent fewer children were riding to school. In New Zealand, where helmet compulsion was introduced in 1994, the number of overall bike trips fell 51 percent between 1989–90 and 2003–6, according to one research paper."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/do-bi...

"Meanwhile, it seems that bicyclists wearing helmets may encourage riskier driving by motorists."

Just to be clear, I'm not advocating against wearing a helmet if you DO commute on a bike. As someone who fifteen years ago cracked a helmet instead of his head after falling on some jagged pavement, I appreciate what a helmet can do for you. And there may be statistical support for wearing a bike helmet as well:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/sep/22/bicycle...

However, I think the OP's basic point holds. Being sedentary is a greater health risk than riding without a helmet.


> Anyone commuting to work should have a plan to deal with a helmet, it's such a trivial thing to plan for and deal with compared to maintaining your bike, having parking for it, arranging showers, etc.

There are whole countries, like the Netherlands and Germany, where that simply doesn't happen. In fact, biking is much simpler in those countries, they don't even bother with showers (instead they bike more slowly).


Correct, besides that we also don't wear helmets. Note however that our road infrastructure is very different from most of the other countries.

Getting hit by a car is not something we worry much about. Besides the bike friendly roads, chauffeurs are used watching out for bycicles.

Then there's special laws where a car hitting a bycicle is always wrong. The reasoning behind that is that a byciclist is much more fragile. This also makes car drivers more careful.


Yes, but it does demonstrate show that armoring up bike riders isn’t the only sane option (we could improve our bike infrastructure and give them more priority).


Yep, there are more ways as just one correct way. I doubt that armoring up would ever work down here. There are of course fatal casualities, but they are rare.

Riding a bicycle is embedded into our culture, another example is the dutch reach [0].

[0] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/the-dutch-reach-how-o...


This’ll sound vain - because it mostly is - but some folks really care about their hair and may have it in an aesthetic construct that helmet-wearing will obliterate.

For those folks, wearing a helmet is anathema.

Personally I recommend simply not riding in this situation, because helmets save lives. But I’m not everybody.


> For the one off scenario where you don't have your helmet on hand, then it's more of an interesting question: "should I chance it and ride the bike without a helmet this one time?"

This is the issue right here. Habits matter, and getting out of a habit can destroy the habit entirely. If the argument is "always wear a helmet" and you cancel rides because of that requirement, I would think you are much more likely to fall out of the habit of riding. If you can continue to ride when you don't have a helmet, you keep that habit going, and next time, you're likely to have the helmet again, and keep accruing the benefits.


I once crashed head-first at 20 mph into hard asphalt. Point of impact was at my right frontal lobe. My helmet cracked. If I wasn't wearing one I'm sure it would have been my skull instead.


Having seen a cyclist without a helmet killed in a similar accident, I can guarantee you would have been dead.


Oof, I'll chime in here. My helmet has saved me from two head injuries I'm so glad and grateful I didn't have to endure with my skull alone. I suspect I'd have some terrible scars and possibly some concussion damage if I took your advice.


I treat helmet safety like I do gun safety. ALWAYS TREAT A GUN AS IF ITS LOADED. If you don't, you behave differently around it always. And that's how people accidentally shoot their friends or themselves (even cleaning their gun). If you choose to not compromise on fundamentals like that, you are positioning yourself and others for less risk from the get go.

Thankfully I applied the same ALWAYS mentality to wearing a helmet for my biking commute. I was obeying traffic laws when a pickup truck turned into me while I was traveling through a green light. I had right of way and he wasn't paying attention and clipped me fairly hard. I tried to break and skid about 10 feet as he turned into me. I ended up in the hospital with a severe concussion and a terrifying 6 hours for my wife as she sat next to me. Praying that my lost memory would recover as the concussion wore off. I was initially forgetful of us having been married for less than a year. Eventually I started remembering things again, quite a scary moment for us.

Funny thing was I was riding to visit a friend who was just a few blocks away. He had recently criticised me for wearing a helmet to go less than a mile to visit him.

Fast forward a year and finally getting the nerve to ride again. My first trip out and a teenager blows through a stop sign without looking and almost hits me. In broad daylight, flashing lights on my bike and all.

There is an inherit risk in riding my bike to work. And a helmet may not provide a meaningful mitigation of risk. (I've never bothered to look up statistics, maybe you have?) However, I can control just a few variables to ride or not, ride defensively or not, and wear protective gear or not. I certainly have no control of the motor vehicles drivers or their distractions. So I choose the variables that I can control without losing the joy of commuting as a cyclist.


do not turn on your light to flashing at night. It distracts oncoming traffic and makes it more difficult for them to judge you speed and distance. Flashing lights should only be used during the day time https://www.bikelightdatabase.com/faq/ https://averagejoecyclist.com/use-flashing-bike-lights/


Good advice all around until that last point.

While any individual might personally engage in risky behavior, it's not correct to make a blanket recommendation. As the number of people who follow risky advice increases, the chance of someone being negatively impacted approaches 100%.

This is why we have public policy to force seatbelts in cars, and why everybody should vote in elections - behaviors adopted on a wide scale can have significant societal impact even though the benefit to the individual is insignificant.


Reasonable except for the helmet part. Anecdotal: I've gone through two smashed helmets. One due to taxi vs. cyclist and another when bicycle lowsided on wet leaves at a walking pace. Both times the helmet absorbed significant damage.

Helmets are a layer in defense. It's not a perfect shield and will not help in catastrophic situations. However in the more likely situation, the helmet does help.

Current cycling helmets are well ventilated and lightweight.

We should be providing information about the risks and rewards. It's up to the cyclist to decide how they want to proceed.

Me: 32km (20mi) each way, slicing through the Tokyo metro area.


I cycle around 3 times the distance he does daily to and from work in London. I've been doing this for 5 years. It's probably fair to say I take more days off than he does though (I leave the bike at home if going for a drink).

I suppose the same could be said for any form of regular exercise, but it makes such an improvement to how I feel when I get to work, and my general well-being. The pollution in London has always been a bit of a concern, however I hope the exercise outweighs this for the most part. I save around £8 a day by not taking the train.

I wish more people would give it a go. More people riding would result in better and safer infrastructure here. I do however, regularly see people get knocked off bikes and can understand the perceived risk and reluctance from others to try it. I'm envious of cities such as Copenhagen with great safe infrastructure, and where riding is the norm.


I live in London and I'd love to cycle to work, but the infrastructure (for my route) just isn't there. And for people who aren't experienced cyclists, it is even worse as lack of confidence actually leads to more accidents.


Maybe try it? Once I started cycling in London there was no looking back, even if I had to be on busy roads. Many residential roads in London are very quiet during the day so there may be a windy circuitous route that is very pleasant to be on. Or a busy direct route that is not as bad as you think. When theres a proper cycle lane that's nice but it is by no means vital.


I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the route to work a cycling route planner gave me in London was. There are less nice parts at the beginning and end (as I get onto and off the cycle-friendly streets), but the majority of the route (some on Q2, some on quiet 20mph roads with no specific cycling provision) is not bad.


https://www.cyclestreets.net/ is one such planner that may have bike only shorcuts that aren't marked on other map sources (it's based on OpenStreetMap and feeds cycle specific data back I believe).


Absolutely true. Once you're confident, you realise how to get good infrastructure anywhere: share the road with motor vehicles if the dedicated infrastructure sucks.

Sure, some people will hate you for that, but I prefer disliked over smeared onto pavement any time of the day.


I cycle commute in London every day and you don't need dedicated cycling infrastructure. It's great to use if it's there but otherwise you make do. Rather than trying to take the most direct route, I cut through small laneways and alleys and ride through a couple of parks. Get on a bike and start exploring. There's nothing more soul crushing than London's public transport during peak hour.



Yet you have quite some cyclists that ride in crazy traffic among double deckers and fast cars. Most of them wear neon yellow clothing. Is it required by law?


I have a face mask (Respro City) that filters out a good part of the particulates. Those are of course only part of the pollution and the mask does look a bit silly.


I'm quite an anxious person and even just the thought of cycling in London puts me off it.

I've looked at the route map and most of it is on incredibly busy roads, including Henleys Corner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henlys_Corner) one of the busiest junctions.


I've always used a bike to go to work, but now I'm in Mexico City. Too many cars, too much air pollution. Cycling here is bad for your health.

The public bicycle sharing system is really good and cheap. Some parts of the city are bike friendly. But the air quality is just so bad. The trucks that spew black smoke continuously. The buses that have never been controlled in 50 years. The SUVs traveling at 100 km/h on the lanes reserved for buses and bicycles. All the cars idling and honking in traffic after 6PM. It's really depressing. This city would be such a beautiful city without all those cars and trucks.

Refs:

- air quality: https://air.plumelabs.com/en/year/mexico

- ecoBici: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EcoBici_(Mexico_City)

- "Car ban fails to curb air pollution in Mexico City" http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38840076


You're exposed to more pollution sitting in a car in traffic than you are cycling through it in the open.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-4599572/Avoi...


Breathing hard on a bike when pushing it is really nasty when the air is bad. Sucking in a chest full of exhaust fumes is horrible.


Unless you're saying Mexico City is worse than Beijing, you could go for two hours no problem: https://3kpnuxym9k04c8ilz2quku1czd-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/w...


Between where and where? A lot of the obvious routes are terrible, but you can go a long way in this city zigging where everyone else zags.

Avoid the bike lanes for the most part, though. You're probably in more danger in one of our bike lanes than out of one, due to all the morons blithely going the wrong way in them.


You're in Mexico City? So am I. Maybe we could connect sometime?


I commuted by bike (6km one way) in Tel Aviv, Israel and it was awesome. Great route, bike lanes/parks and a (tiny, but who cares) shower in the office. Did that for one year straight, just like the person in the article.

Now I'm living in Singapore, a city that has a traffic problem and tries to reduce the cars on the streets. You'd think they would welcome bikes, but riding a bike here sucks. Big time. It's basically unbearable.

There are no sidewalks to speak of on a lot of roads. Often the sidewalks are divided in two segments of different heights. Tables will be on the sidewalk, garbage bins will block it.

Riding on the road - the norm in my home country - is discouraged by every local I've met, both bike fans and car drivers. You can ride the bike in this city, sometimes, in some places. But it's a pain in the rear to use it for commutes and a very, very bad experience around the central part of Singapore. Park connectors/outward regions are fine, but the traffic infested center is no place for a bike, which is quite sad..

What I'm trying to say is: I agree that the article describes a great way to live, something I dearly miss. I believe that this isn't possible for a lot of people though, in spite of the benefits it would provide to them and their surroundings.


A lot of the cities in SE Asia weren't even planned with cars in mind, hence narrow roads and lack of space. And then you have these giant freeways springing up haphazardly that bottle necks into these tiny roads. THe result is slow moving traffic yet is just too dangerous for pedestrians, let alone cyclists. The locals rely on motorbikes when they want to beat traffic.


Yes, crazy motorbikes are certainly popular. But then, while they might be fun: They have nothing to do with the "I used my body to get to work" article.

I think we agree that this is a shitty idea in SG. Motorbikes might be fun and are certainly popular, but they're not related to the subject at hand.


Look up one of the Singapore cycling clubs. There are plenty (with lots of Australian and French members as well as locals).

There are some oddities to riding in Singapore, but once understood I found it a very enjoyable place to bike.


Ride where? I can easily find a nice "let's have a pick-nick" route for me and the gf.

But I'm comparing this city to the article, to the idea of commuting to work. My work is in the central district of SG. I _cannot_ ride there without cursing. I actually did find a couple shortcuts and ways etc, but still: It's a PITA. No bike lanes. Shitty sidewalks. There's no way to ignore these issues.

Singapore has nice places to bike. Not in CBD.


Biking in Singapore's humid heat does not sound pleasant at all.


It's actually really nice to bike in Singapore, provided you can shower at work.

I cycled every day for a month along a mix of park connectors (cycle paths) and two and three lane roads.

I only had one close pass from a car because on nearly all roads they have a whole extra lane to use to pass you in so if you ride assertively (in the middle of a lane) they just go around you.

And the park connectors are beautiful, fast tarmac with no cars at all. With some creativity you can link them up to create a great commute to most places. My route home went past a Riverside pub - I was on segregated cycle lanes the rest of the way home so I could easily stop for a beer with little risk.

You do usually arrive soaking wet from sweat or the rain. But that's a minor inconvenience compared to being cold! Biking in Singapore is warm, fast, and safe - much better than most places I've commuted.


NO its not...I grew up here and lived and worked abroad in in UK and US for a few years so I can attest to the difference weather makes...especially the humidity. (I cycled in both here and abroad.)

And no one seemed to mention...two wheeled transport is great, until it rains. And if you have never been to Singapore, Malaysia or the tropics you haven't seen real rain yet.

BTW...in SE Asia, the two wheeled transport of choice is the motorbike. The roads (and motorists attitudes) weren't designed for LOW speed traffic.


Singapore is pretty light on motorbikes compared to places like Hanoi.

I cycle year round in London and would rather cycle commute in Singapore. Once you are acclimatised to the humidity it's not that big a deal, and it's always similar so it's easy to plan for.

You do have to pull off the road to wait out a real tropical rain storm... but so do motorbikes. That's why they have shelters for then under the today bridges.

All these places are ace compared to most US cities, though.


Biking in Singapore is

- warm: Sure, no argument here. Very warm..

- fast: No. Maybe. Let's hope that you don't ignore traffic lights: There are so many places that don't even care about bikes (underpasses/overpasses exist, but are hard to reach or less friendly to bikes by requiring you to ... wait for an elevator). You can understand the layout of the city, start riding and you will end up stranded. You will need to backtrack. The city hates bikes.

- safe: Yeah ... No. Singapore is not insane, but it's crazy enough. People don't understand turning signals. Drivers instead like to push into the direction they want to go, expecting everyone around them to follow along. This is, with no pun, in traffic terms a Little India.

I personally am fine to drive a bike here and being a nuisance, but most people don't do that. Literally everyone on the road is an asshole, some of these assholes drive Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini or whatnot. You do NOT want to scratch those stupid idiot's cars with your bike.

Traffic in Singapore is a huge and utter mess. Do not ride a bike here unless you're convinced that it's a good idea...


Ignoring that I don't have showers at work - some oversight that I dearly miss: I believe that you're not correct.

I cannot get to work via park connectors. Actually I probably have the 'best' way to work already: I'm already in CBD and the distance is small. But .. the city is not ready for bikes. Not at all. There are no bike lanes around my place. The one I found was about 200m long (yay!!) and used by pedestrians exclusively, every time I came there (yay!!!! I can try to ring my bell or push them over. That will help the bicycle community!).

Singapore is a great place. Singapore for bicycles sucks. Do not ride bikes here. Singapore doesn't care, they are not prepared and in general they offer no place to ride safely.


Totally feel you! I tried taking Ofos from Boat Quay to Chinatown and it‘s just not working at all. This city is not designed for bikes.


I'm glad you agree, but from Boat Quay to Chinatown (I live close to the latter) is walking distance. I can make that in 8∓2 minutes on foot.

Yes, I love biking as well. That's just an example of something very, very, very close already :)


Another bonus for bicycling/walking is very predictable arrival time as no traffic jams, public transportation issues etc impact them.


Agreed but only up to a point. I can easily spend 5 minutes in the queue for the lights near my flat (a lot of buses and lorries on that road so I can't always lane split safely), and I was delayed much longer once because police had closed the road after a collision.


Turning round at a road closure is much easier for a cyclist and often they can be very quickly bypassed by becoming a pedestrian and walking your bike via an alternative route.


You don't have separate bicycle paths (and traffic lights) where you are ?


Most of my commute is along more cycle-friendly routes (not separate paths, but quiet roads) but I've got a "last mile" at both ends (from home onto the route and from the route to work) that runs across quite busy main roads, since ultimately I live on one of those.


Just walk the bike for that portion of your commute?


Could do, but the stop-start vehicle traffic is still faster than walking.


I don't whatsoever. I live 4 miles from the office, and I take about 14 back roads to get to it. I still have to cross 3 major roads without a light or anything to help me. San Jose is not bike friendly at all.


I bike to work about 50% of the time. I live in San Jose where traffic is very heavy. I have to cross three roads without a light, and how long that takes really varies a lot. Some days I can wait for up to 5 minutes per road, making my cycle commute just as variable as my drive commute.


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