What do I need to turn my bike into a reliable form of practical transportation?
May 17, 2012 2:25 PM Subscribe
What do I need in order to start commuting by bike? Assume that I currently have 1) a bike, 2) there is no 2.
I just moved slightly closer to school (and slightly farther away from one of my jobs) and would like to start commuting on my bike rather than in my car, for all the usual reasons: costs less, free exercise, get to be out in the open air more, better for the environment, etc. We're looking at a daily commute of about 7 miles each way on a mixture of busy and not-so-busy streets in a city with poor bike infrastructure and terrible road quality, sometimes during the day and sometimes at night.
I have a bike that I enjoy riding, though in the past I've mostly done shorter rides on it. I had a two-mile commute to work at my old place which I always did on my bike (it's now a three-mile commute which I intend to continue doing on my bike). I've also ridden it longer distances plenty of times, but not regularly.
What do I need to make this work? Good lights are critical obviously, and I'd appreciate any tips on how I can get (or make?) some good Be Seen lights on a budget. Also I have a feeling that I should carry some basic tools -- say, a patch kit, tire levers (I'm a wimp), and a hand pump plus maybe a chain-breaker and a few spare links of chain. I probably also should get my bike tuned up at my LBS because it's been a while since it's had anything but my somewhat inexpert care and could stand to be riding a bit better. My lock is pretty crap but I can bring my bike inside at home, school, and work so I'm not super worried on that front although if someone wants to tell me what the cheapest bike lock is that's actually worth a damn, I'd love to know that.
What else am I missing here? Lots, I'm sure. Mostly I just want to make sure that I can make my commute safely and peacefully and can deal with any minor mishaps that might happen along the way. I feel like I ought to be able to figure this out on my own but for some reason keep coming up against some kind of internal inertia that's prevented me from getting this together, so I'm asking you guys for advice in the hope that it will motivate me to make this happen and join the ranks of happy bicycle commuters everywhere.
Thanks so much!