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September 21, 2009

Bike blogging spreading like kudzu
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:20 PM * 52 comments

Patrick, referencing my sequence of bike commute photos, did a much more expansive photoset of his own, including two different routes, one there and one back again.

Not to be outdone, I’ve now photographed the other of my two usual cycle routes for yet another commute photoset. It, too, was created by simply stopping every 50 pedal strokes or so (depending on safety) and taking a photo.

I’ve tagged both Flickr photosets with bikecommute. I’m going to get Patrick to do the same. Does anyone else fancy doing a set, so it’s not always the same hands showing? Because friends, we could make it a movement, and all you gotta do to join it is to sing it when it comes around on the guitar photograph your commute and post a link here.

With feeling.


These sets of 27 8x10 colored glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back* from our readers are a delight and a fascination:

* Yes, OK, enough with the Alice’s Restaurant references, I get the hint. (Wanders off singing “I don’t want a pickle…”)

Comments on Bike blogging spreading like kudzu:
#1 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2009, 07:05 PM:

You can ride anywhere you want, on Abi's bike commute.

#2 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2009, 08:29 PM:

(...excepting Abi's!)
You can ride anywhere you want
On Abi's bike commute
Just hop right on, stow your gear in back
Look both ways before you cross the tracks
And you can ride anywhere you want
On Abi's bike commute!

#4 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2009, 10:29 PM:

I've got one photo from my bike commute already on Flickr (from a discussion of places where I violated the 20 km/h Ottawa "mixed use path" speed limit. It's now tagged. It may take a while to add more.

#5 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 12:35 AM:

I kept thinking about commuting by bike but didn't actually do so (dysfunctional bicycle, having to cross a significant north-south road, and not only cross but ride for a ways on second significant north-south road... go through a back street hillside maze... going -over- US 3 wouldn;'t have been a big deal, since that limited access road was under the bridge). The employer moved two weekends ago to 10+ miles away, to a location at the intersection of state road 133 and I-495.... having survived biking to work a couple times in my Air Force days going past the intersection of the San Diego Freeway and was it El Segundo Boulevard in the LA area, and having survived bicycling my freshman year in college from MIT to a 4 PM class on the Harvard campus (MIT class, was at the Cambridge Electron Accelerator)... anyway, I feel that I used up my bike commuting luck long ago!

#6 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 02:46 AM:

I work from home now, but I used to bike to work in good weather. (From work was uphill, so my husband would pick me up at the office on the way home. Three cheers for folding bikes.) Half of the path was pretty dangerous: painted or inexistent bike lanes, cars parked on them, pedestrians that wouldn't budge (but would glare or yell). On this half, I'd feel huge amounts of envy for our Flemish and Dutch neighbors.

The other half, however, was on a RAVeL path, on a stretch of paved-over railway track that took me through a thickly-wooded patch. I was usually alone in the morning, with the chirping of insects and birds, and the rustling leaves, and bits of sunlight breaking through the foliage now and then to touch my face. When I came to the roundabout at the end of the path, a patch of bright orange poppies greeted me.

I'm taking my camera with me the next time the sun's out, and retracing my old route.

#7 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 03:19 AM:

From TNH's Particles today: Bill Watterson on biking.

#8 ::: Nick ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 09:33 AM:

Abi, your pictures just make me want to cry. My commute in Washington DC is an ugly half-hour drive in traffic, (on a bike, it would take more than an hour and a half each way, and would be unsafe for a number of reasons), while people would fly across an ocean to ride your commute for fun.

#9 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 10:40 AM:

Thanks for posting this, Abi.

#10 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 11:05 AM:

Today I walked the route I would bike if I start biking to work next month. Took about 35 minutes; less than half of it has sidewalks, and there is a bit of a hill in one place. Well, what you might call a hill in Central Oklahoma. Not too much traffic, lots of bikers on the route already, and just one big street to cross without a stop sign. Also I would pass a house with a front yard full of what some people would call junk and others outsider art -- I'll try to get a picture of that!

#11 ::: FrancisT ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 12:03 PM:

Here's my bikecommute on Flickr

As I note in the set this is really of historical interest only since I work from home these days.

In a month or so I may photograph the bike/roller blade commute I had when I lived in Tokyo as'll be staying in a hotel more or less on the way. It will be fascinating to see how the place has changed in the 18 years since I lived there...

#12 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 12:05 PM:

#6: I see that RAVEL translates as "Independent Network of Slow Routes". What a great title...

#13 ::: Katie LaBarbera ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 01:20 PM:

Here's my commute from the north suburbs of St. Louis to the downtown St. Louis Public Library, via the Riverfront Trail:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/36512564@N06/sets/72157615603267464/

#14 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 02:42 PM:

I walk more often than bike (there's a serious hill, and when I lived at the top of it I biked more often), but I think the principle would be the same. Maybe every 100 steps?

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 04:28 PM:

Nick @8:
people would fly across an ocean to ride your commute for fun.

That has indeed been known to happen. Though being en route to Rome was also convenient.

#16 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 04:38 PM:

TChem @14:

Sounds like a good idea. Pick an interval that feels about right, so you're neither taking photos every few steps nor missing huge bits.

#17 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 05:39 PM:

Um, hi again,

After rhapsodizing about the joys of bike commuting in a previous post (in a previous thread), I have a rather miserable update. Yesterday, I had the dubious privilege of being the rare recipient of a hit and run. I do wear a helmet (it isn't the norm around here, but I'm a bit paranoid) and I'm meticulous about hand-signaling turns (again, not the norm, unless you're over 50.) A car comes up on me, I look over my shoulder (like you do) I see a blond head face down, a pale hand texting. She's coming up really *fast*. Thought one - She doesn't have any idea I'm here. Thought two - She will hit me if I don't do something. Thought three - I must (Black pause) why am I on my back and why do I smell of shit? My back tire is trashed, and I've got soft tissue damage. Let us be thankful for the softness of cow dung, it makes for a nicer impact for the human body than asphalt, apparently.

Dispatches from an unhappy camper.

#18 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 06:18 PM:

dlbowman76 @ 17: Considerable sympathies. I hope the injuries are not too bad and that they heal quickly. Do you think she even realised she'd hit anything?

#19 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 06:26 PM:

dlbowman76, #17, I hope you heal soon! Was she apprehended? The AAA spokesman said on TV last night that we have 12,000 hit & runs in DC every year.

#20 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 06:27 PM:

dcb: Vielen dank, as we say around these parts. Nothing broken, (Gott sei dank!!!) but I've considerable soft tissue damage. I'm not sure whether she clipped me or not, but when I came to, my bike was about three meters away from me. As far as I go, I've been lurching about like Frankenstein's monster today, my entire right side a stiff welter of pain. I'm trebly pissed, because 1) the weather here is great - a rarity! 2) I'm now a home bound invalid, awaiting my next appointment with the Chirurgie Praxis and 3) I was really looking forward to photoblogging my bike commute.

#21 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 06:27 PM:

dlbowman76:
Cowshit isn't the best of landing zones, but it beats some of the alternatives...
Glad to hear you're mostly alright. Any chance of catching the person? But if you dumped the bike to avoid getting hit, many jurisdictions consider that a single vehicle (bicycle, to be clear) accident. Unfortunately, your memory gap leaves you not knowing some important details. Thankfully, your memory gap leaves you not knowing some painful details.


/s/ Survivor of two bike/vehicle accidents that broke my precious bones.

#22 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2009, 06:29 PM:

John, I'm afraid I was unclear in my writing. I didn't dump the bike. I was thrown from the bike. Sorry about my poor writing.

#23 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 01:18 AM:

dlbowman76 @22:

Oh, no! How scary! When you say "soft tissue damage", do you mean bruising, or worse? How do you feel, now, the day after?

It does seem to be the week for it. I had my first near-miss on Monday while I was taking the pictures for this entry. Specifically, right after here. I turn left, and immediately afterward, there is a T-junction where a road hits mine on the right. Behind the van in the photo was a driver coming up that road, intending to turn right. She was looking down the road for traffic, but didn't expect me to have just turned left onto it. So she started pulling out just as I was right in front of her.

She was turning her head back from "check for traffic" mode to "look where the car is going" mode when she saw me. She slammed on her brakes, and there were a few inches between her bumper and my back wheel. I glanced back, and she had turned, as they say here, lijkbleek, pale as a corpse. She gave me the most horrified and apologetic wave of "OGodSorry" and, frankly, looked sick to her stomach. I gave her a "there, there" hands-down gesture; there is nothing I could have said that would add to the emotional impact the event already had for her.

Then I turned onto the footpath and took the next photo. Bet she does a better job looking now.

#24 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 03:41 AM:

I feel worse, frankly, but what the butcher's bill will be is for the Orthopaedic surgeon to determine. I can't lift anything weighing more than about 9 kilos with my right hand and I try not to turn my head unless absolutely necessary. What gets me is that the driver left the scene. Apparently that is fairly uncommon around here.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 04:00 AM:

dlbowman76 @24:
What gets me is that the driver *left the scene*. Apparently that is fairly uncommon around here.

I'm glad to hear it's rare, because it is wildly reprehensible. Did you report this to the police, in case there's some way they can trace her?

I hope she gets intermittent, undetectable engine trouble and red lights at every intersection.

Keep us posted on your health, please. I'm going to worry now.

#26 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 04:21 AM:

Herzlich dank, Abi. The doc seemed reasonably optimistic (by Bavarian standards, at any rate.) I did report it to the cops, but they weren't too sanguine. It's still the tourism season, and black Audi's aren't precisely rare. Everything that can be done is being done.

#27 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 04:27 AM:

dlbowman76 @ 24 Yes, you will feel worse today (soft tissue swelling and all that). Here's hoping it all settles down quickly.

"What gets me is that the driver *left the scene*." That's why I wondered whether she even realised what she'd done. Texting like that, she may never have seen you at all (even when hitting you).

I had a hand injury (probably cracked bone, never bothered to get an x-ray since the treatment wouldn't differ) some years ago when a car swung into the bus lane while I was travelling down same, rapidly (downhill), and my rear brake cable snapped; the hand got mashed on railings as I struggled to stay upright and not go under car wheels. Driver never stopped and probably never realised what had happened.

The scariest one was coming out of a light-controlled T-junction, on green, and having a car drive straight through the junction in front of me. He'd just pulled away from the curb, or come out a side road, I think, and just never saw that his light was red. He did see me at the last moment, swerve, and wipe out his front tyres and radiator on the central island & bollard, while I came to a stop parallel to the car and about six inches away from it.

#28 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 05:28 AM:

Having one's fall cushioned by landing in cowshit is truly a good news/bad news situation... best wishes for your recovery, dl, and I'm glad to hear there were apparently no bones broken or other serious damage. Take it easy for a while.
I've been lucky so far - never been hit by a car, though my eccentric habit of actually stopping at red lights means I am frequently rear-ended by other cyclists who are expecting me simply to sail on through. Fortunately, in central London, cars are unlikely to be going very fast when they hit you: you're about as likely to be knocked off by an Audi doing 50 as you are to be run down by a rogue elephant.

#29 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 05:37 AM:

Ajay @ 28:

"...though my eccentric habit of actually stopping at red lights means I am frequently rear-ended by other cyclists who are expecting me simply to sail on through."

Well if you get hit by David Cameron, you could ask for a ride in the limousine that follows him to carry his bags (and presumably his valet and first footman.)

#30 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 07:54 AM:

ajay@28: So, there are two of us cycling in London and stopping at red lights? Wow.

Every so often I try to explain to a fellow cyclist that not stopping pisses off the powered vehicle drivers and makes them less likely to treat cyclists with respect, thus putting us all in more danger They generally seem unable to comprehend - nor to realise why it's impolite to cycle through the pedestrians while they are crossing on their green light. Of course, the tendency for pedestrians to wander out into the road without looking is why I cycle down Charing Cross Road ringing my bell the whole way.

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 08:16 AM:

dlbowman76... Ouch. My best wishes for a prompt recovery.

#32 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 08:57 AM:

If this were done for ears rather than eyes, I had an interesting commute over the Labor Day weekend.

I was riding home through the center of the city late in the evening when I heard music, looked around, and saw a brass ensemble on a street corner. A little further, a couple more. There were brass groups all over the sidewalks.

A block of Main Street was closed off, so I stopped and asked one of the policemen manning the barricade. Apparently there was a big 'drum and bugle corp' competition taking place at the sports stadium that weekend; the closed off city block was to give the groups a space to practice marching, and all the groups up and down the sidewalks were warming up while waiting their turn.

A little further on, I hear some punchy music that sounded familiar. Then I recognized it.

Cool. I'm riding my bike to the accompaniment of a brass ensemble playing the theme song from 'Jonny Quest'.

Unfortunately for the purpose of a blog, this could not have been repeated.

#33 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 11:30 AM:

Lovely pictures; I don't even have a commute and I find myself slightly wistful about these.

My sympathies to those with the unfortunate car stories; oddly enough, however, my only bicycle vs car collision experience was an occasion of being hit by an incautious cyclist in my car. It was at a busy T intersection where a designated bike path paralleled the straight road. There were several cars lined up to turn off of the T road, effectively blocking visibility as I turned left onto the T, and the cyclist ran his stop sign and rolled out from between two of the line of cars in time to run straight into the side of my car. I pulled off into someone's driveway long enough to go back and make sure he wasn't horribly injured, but it was all I could do not to give him a lecture on why we have traffic laws at the top of my lungs.

#34 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2009, 06:46 PM:

Ok, so I've photographed my commute and split it in two as 'To Work' and 'From Work', each of which is a month's worth of free flickr space. So I've posted 'From Work' here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/85428352@N00/3948669898/in/set-72157622317448645/

and will add 'To work' in October, which is just over a week from now. This set ends at the entrance to the Greenway, that being the bit that both halves of my circular commute have in common.

These have all been tagged 'bikecommute'.

#35 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2009, 09:53 AM:

I photographed my walk to work. It turned out that every ~150 steps was a block-and-a-bit, which seemed like a good balance. I posted it here. At some point I may photograph a different route home. I tagged it with "walkcommute".

I've been meaning to do this for a while, so thanks for the push.

#36 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2009, 12:48 PM:

Steven Roberts did it old school...

#37 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2009, 01:04 PM:

Here's mine! Tagged, too.

#38 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2009, 10:25 PM:

I'm loving looking at all the photosets. Even when there are lots of cars and people they still look peaceful, somehow--maybe because I know how good I feel traveling by bike myself.

#39 ::: Lex ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2009, 10:17 PM:

Does anybody on this thread use www.bikely.com/ ? It's an excellent way of sharing your bike routes! See also www.worldcarfree.net/ if you are interested in spreading the goodness.

#40 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2009, 01:55 AM:

As promised, the other half of my commute is now up at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/85428352@N00/sets/72157622495174830/

#41 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2009, 06:28 AM:

Rob @40:

Added. Thanks for it!

#42 ::: Jesse the K ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2009, 12:40 PM:

Thanks for the glimpses at exciting parts of daily life. If all the commuting gets too wearisome, one can dream along with the long-distance travelers who've documented their journeys on the elegantly low-bandwidth tourists' blog:

Crazy Guy on a Bike

#43 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2009, 11:50 AM:

I tried photographing my walkcommute this morning, but following TChem's lead and taking a photo every 150 steps it turned out to be only two photos long.

(Yes, since you ask, location was one of my key considerations when I moved to this house.)

I'm thinking of trying again tomorrow with a 100-step interval.

#44 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2009, 02:10 PM:

Here's a slight digression from bike photos. Define a locale's "bikeability." Over at Matt Yglesias's site, quoting Scientific American, he writes

“If you want to know if an urban environment supports cycling, you can forget about all the detailed ‘bikeability indexes’–just measure the proportion of cyclists who are female,”
That's because women tend to carry groceries and children with them on their bikes, the study claims.

#45 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 05:59 PM:

Not a commute in the normal sense, but I don't have a commute I can bicycle much. This is a trip I took to Emerson Hospital for some tests on 9-Oct-2009. It is about 13 miles each way. Camera mounted (loosely) to bike. Pre-straightening, it was sort of Cloverfieldesque.

All of the trip is on back roads, with only one major crossing. Yes, almost the entire trip is in the green tunnels of New England, those 90 year old oak trees have been reaching out over the road to get more sunlight their entire lives. My house is less than a eight of a mile from US Route 20* in Marlborough, MA, USA. The Hospital is the same distance from US Route 2.
This is actually less than a mile longer than the most direct way, which would have me on Rte. 20 for about three miles. Last time I rode Rte 20 during a rush hour, I ended up in a trauma center 20 miles away. That was also essentially the last time I rode a bike.
Now where are the slides I took in the Netherlands with a handlebar mounted camera?

I need to build a remote release, a better mount, a pan head, and do some script work in CHDK to get this to work the way I'd like.

*Alice's restaurant is about a mile off a Rte. 20. About a hundred miles west of here...

#46 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2009, 05:02 AM:

John Houghton @45:

I've added your photoset to the post, but it's worth noting that the beginning of the set includes a number of duplicated images.

#47 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2009, 07:45 AM:

Thanks Abi. I'm still fighting with the Flickr interface. I'll be trimming several photos from the set, and adding a map (I hope).

#48 ::: Kirilaw ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2009, 05:15 PM:

It finally stopped raining here in Ottawa long enough for me to photograph my route!

Both to and from work can be seen here.

#49 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2009, 08:56 AM:

Took me a while to get good light conditions in conjunction with not-being-in-a-hurry, but here's my commute.

#50 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2009, 05:51 PM:

I've been dilatory about adding to this post, but Kirilaw and Paul A's commutes are both on now. Nice ones!

#51 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2009, 02:15 PM:

And here's mine. Aside from the disappearance of a bridge, not much has changed since the last time I took this route two years ago.

#52 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2010, 07:47 AM:

On the anniversary of making my walkcommute photoset, I did a new one, seeing as how the route has changed in the interim. (I'm still working for the same company, but the office has moved to a different place.)

Here's Walkcommute 2010.

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