Practical Advice for Transportation Cycling

Sometimes, all that matters is getting from Point A to Point B as cheaply, safely and efficiently as possible. You don't need a fast bike, you don't need a pretty bike, and most of all you don't need an expensive bike, you just need one that works.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Heaven Isn't Too Far Awaaaaaaay: My New Hometown.

Don't get me wrong, I love bicycles, I love riding bicycles, and I love commuting by bike, but Central New Jersey is  not always the easiest, or the friendliest place to get around on two wheels (though it's far from the worst either). A few major life events later, though, and I've found myself in what has to be one of the bike-friendliest cities in the US: Madison, WI. 

I'm sure local Madisonians (is that what they call people here?) will be quick to point out that there are many flaws and challenges to riding here, and that someplace like Portland or Amsterdam is a lot easier to get around by pedal-power, but I'll tell you now, it's pretty sweet. 

One of the keys to happy cycling here is that much of the city is criss-crossed by off-street bicycle paths that look like this
See all that mid-day traffic that I'm not dealing with?
Or this
This is what the route to the grocery store looks like
Or this
To the right is a freakin' bike elevator to take you to the city center's street level!
Having a few of these trails mean you can plan your commute or route of errands to avoid mixing up with car traffic for some or even most of your ride, making for a much more relaxed experience (especially for a hardened arterial road veteran like myself), and even when you have to ride on the streets, a good system of bike lanes and infrastructure means you feel relatively safe, and more importantly, make it clear to drivers where to expect to see bicycles. This, and a high rate of ridership means that car/bike interactions are relatively civil and sane. 

Also, having driven around here a bit now, it's actually easier to get most places within a couple miles by bike. 

I think this is going to be interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing and learning more about what a difference all the infrastructure, as well as the cultural differences, makes in the experience of transportation cycling. 

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