This is Chelsea, our Quality Control and Regulatory Coordinator here at Hummingbird and this is her new bike set up with fenders, a rear rack and basket, disc brakes, and e-assist for the hills on her commute. She is wearing her new poncho that also keeps her legs and shoes dry as she rides through the rain.
A classified ad in the October editition of our bi-weekly coworker newsetter, titled "The Birdcall," read:
THE NOVEMBER CHALLENGE
Not to be confused with the Bike Commute Challenge
Are you looking to push the envelope of what is possible, truly test yourself? It won't be easy, but you will have a strong renewed sense of accomplishment after biking to work every day in NOVEMBER - officially the wettest month in Eugene with 16+ rainy days on average. This is not for everyone. If you are working from home - this isn't for you. If your commute is too long, this may be too much to consider. There are no prizes, treats or really anything but your own achievement and satisfaction. If you are ready to take The November Challenge - email for more information. Be Brave!
Our Quality Control and Regulatory Coordinator, Chelsea Porter, accepted the challenge. She had been riding occasionally throughout the summer, but she was inspired... and brave. "I want to rely less on my car for transportation and use my new electric bike more," she said.
November is the month with the highest number of rainy days in Eugene. In other parts of the world people call this the monsoon season, but here we refer to it as the rainy season - usually lasting from October to May. Chelsea got herself ready, "With the expected precipitation, I got a solid pancho and kept an eye on weather patterns! I wore my rain jacket and had spare clothes in my bag just in case."
Chelsea recalled, "I made my commute a meditative time to check in with and appreciate what my body can do! A large part of my commute is on the bike path, so it gave me time to reflect in the morning vs having to be extra attentive while I drive in traffic."
Biking in the cloudy, low-light, and wet conditions common in November requires a bit more caution than in other months too. The road surface and the bike path can be slippery with water. The early darkness and generally lower light makes it harder to see and be seen by other bikers and drivers. When asked if she had any close calls or safety concerns Chelsea admitted, "I almost got hit by a car, but I had an inkling that they didn't see me and so I slowed down enough to avoid getting hit. I had my lights on and wore my helmet, but paying attention is what saved my bacon."
Will she do it again next year? "Yes! I am still biking into work and I will continue to do so until ice/snow makes it difficult on parts of my commute." Chelsea is one of our Bike Commuter Heros!
Tips: Biking to Work
If you haven’t been on a bike in years, the first step you should take before riding around town is simply getting comfortable on your bike. Take some time to practice in your driveway, in a park, or on a calm side street before you take your wheels on the busier roads.
Is Your Bike Ready?
Give your bicycle a good once-over before you take it out on the road. Clean and oil the chain, put air in the tires, and make sure the brakes are working properly. If you’re not comfortable with basic bike mechanics, take it to a local bike shop for a tune-up before you go. You can even get look at the map to plan your route and do a test run. Take a look at the bike lanes and paths in Eugene and Springfield and plan a route that will have you spending as much time as possible in protected bike lanes or bike routes on traffic-calmed roads. Be cognizant of other cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles around you. Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, turn your head around to check before turning, and mind the turn signals of cars in front of you as you approach intersections. Pay special attention to staying out of the blind spots of motorists.
Weather - Daylight - Safety
Don't let the weather get the best of you. Look at the forecast the evening before and locate your rain jacket, rain pants, and or gloves as needed. If you hope to stay drier, you'll want to set your bike up with fenders. You will probably want a headlight and taillight too. We encourage you all to wear helmets when biking to work.
Follow the Rules of the Road
Here is a quick list of Oregon Bike Laws. There are a couple of new traffic laws – affectionately known as the Idaho Stop, a new bike-specific law allowing you to roll carefully through stop signs when there is no other traffic there, and allowance to proceed through stop lights after coming to a full stop - as long as it is safe to proceed. Also having bike lights at night is a legal requirement.
And Finally, Have Fun!
While cycling in the city needs to be approached with the same degree of precaution that any form of transportation should, it shouldn’t be a stressful experience. Cycling is safe, healthy and importantly, fun! Relish the experience of the wind in your hair and the sun (or Rain) on your back. Take note of your surroundings, say hi to other cyclists. As much as it’s about health and sustainability, cycling is also about putting joy back into your commute.