Author Topic: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit  (Read 6381 times)

minority_finance_mo

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First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« on: December 12, 2014, 09:28:17 PM »
Hi all,

I'm a college student living in one of the outer boroughs of NYC (for those unfamiliar, think of them as Lady Manhattan's less-than-pretty half-sisters.) For the past 4 years, I've been shelling out $112+ a month for bus passes (an unlimited 30-day pass here is that much, plus the cost of occasional "express" rides at $6 a pop.) According to MMM's calculations, that's $20k over a 10-year span spent on transportation.

Even these financial shackles wouldn't have been so bad if the transportation was timely and enjoyable. Unfortunately, while the transit in the city is bar-none, the case is not so in the outer-boroughs. You may share a good chuckle from the screenshot below, which I took a few months ago. Similarly, I've had the pleasure of smelling another person's rancid BO more times than is justifiable in one's lifetime (unless you're into things of that sort.)



But NO MORE! This past week I purchased a used commuter bike on Craigslist for $60. What's more, I've already paid off a sixth of its cost to me by way of the fares I've saved. Goodbye unnecessarily long commutes. Farewell fellow passengers - the only stinky BO I'll now endure is my own, after a long bike ride.


(Coincidentally, this my first Craigslist purchase as well. You'll be happy to note that the seller was not - as I had initially feared - an axe murder luring me in with a bargain.)

johnny847

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2014, 11:38:10 AM »
Good work!

Just curious - how long is your commute now on the bike, vs how long it was via public transport (including your estimated average time spent waiting at a bus or metro stop)?


And yea I had that fear too during my first Craigslist transaction =)

minority_finance_mo

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2014, 12:59:30 PM »
Good work!

Just curious - how long is your commute now on the bike, vs how long it was via public transport (including your estimated average time spent waiting at a bus or metro stop)?


And yea I had that fear too during my first Craigslist transaction =)

Hey Johnny,

Great question - that's something I was worried about too before the switch. My most-often commute is from my home to college, about 3.4 miles away according to Google Maps. Here are the door-to-door trip lengths, walking, biking, and taking bus:

  • Walking: roughly an hour
  • Biking: About half an hour
  • Bus: varies anywhere between 20 minutes and 45 minutes, depending on if buses cooperate.

I gave it a lot of thought and figured: best cast scenario with my bike, my commute is 10 minutes longer and I get a half hour of exercise; worst cast scenario, it saves me 15 minutes AND I get half an hour of exercise.

As you can probably imagine, I was tired of having no control over the length of my commute. The variability forced me to plan every day for the worst cast scenario (i.e. leave my house nearly an hour before class starts.) My bike not only saves me money, but gives me more control over my life.

johnny847

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2014, 06:17:31 AM »
Ah yes. Having that control is pretty empowering.

I guess one thing to watch out for is the possibility of getting a flat on your way to school. As a backup plan, do the buses have bike racks on the front?

Also, do you have the knowledge and gear to fix a flat on the road?

minority_finance_mo

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2014, 10:37:15 PM »
Ah yes. Having that control is pretty empowering.

I guess one thing to watch out for is the possibility of getting a flat on your way to school. As a backup plan, do the buses have bike racks on the front?

Also, do you have the knowledge and gear to fix a flat on the road?

Actually, this is such good timing - I LITERALLY just got a flat yesterday on the way home from school. Do you happen to know of some resources I can use to learn how to take care of my bike (i.e. flats, minor adjustments)? I don't want to go to a bike store and pay for the labor costs and mark-up.

DCJrMustachian

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2014, 10:45:52 PM »
To repair a small (pinhole) leak/flat on the road, you will need: An air pump.  A more permanent fix or a larger hole requires a couple wrenches, patch kit and if you need help finding the hole, a puddle.  If you have extensive damage a spare inner tube would do the trick.

CDP45

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2014, 09:55:45 AM »
Usually colleges have many bikers , so ask the student center for resources, or youtube, or ask a boy friend. A replacement tube is like $5.

johnny847

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2014, 10:16:53 AM »
I wouldn't recommend a patch kit - they don't work all that well. I'd recommend just carrying two extra tubes, a Quick Stik (tire lever), and a tire pump. You may also want to consider carrying around a multi tool. A saddle bag will be able to fit all these things.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLO_HO0kEjs gives you an overview.

I use the pocket rocket as my tire pump - it's pretty handy. I prefer a pump to CO2 injectors, because if you mess up, you may run out of CO2 cartridges.

CALL 911

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2014, 06:29:14 AM »
Possibly the most important thing about fixing a flat/replacing a tube is finding the thorn/glass/tack that made the hole in the first place. I can't tell you the number of times I fixed a flat, only to have it recur immediately, since I never took the thorn out of the tire. Embarrassingly, it is more than once.

NICE!

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2014, 10:16:38 AM »
Good work! In my opinion, the great part is that now you can take a cab every once in awhile when needed and the cost won't sting all that much.

DSKla

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2014, 10:23:55 AM »
You might also see if there is a university bike shop. The university where I work has their own repair/rental shop for students and staff, and since it's intended as a service rather than a profit-maker, the rates to buy gear or have repairs are very reasonable.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2014, 01:47:45 PM »
The other day I was at WalMart looking for the cheapest worthwhile bike tires I could find, since I was fixing up my sister's bicycle for Christmas and it needed new tires & 1 new tube.  I was surprised to see they actually sold airless tires now, which are basically just solid rubber/foam tires.  I've read about them on the forums for a decade or so now but I didn't realize they were popular enough to show up even at big box retailers now.

That might be an attractive option for you.  The airless tires generally are heavier and have a little more rolling resistance, so you're either slower or will have a harder workout, but on the plus side, they go a long way towards making sure your commute time is consistent, as they eliminate "flat tire" from the list of things that can go wrong.  Pick up a spare bike chain and a chaintool and you'll have probably a 99.9% success rate bike commuting, even if you break a chain and have to put the spare on.

Homey The Clown

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2014, 02:38:59 PM »
Fixing a flat is pretty easy. I would carry a spare tube, or 2. I would practice it once or twice at home. If your wheels are both quick release, the only tools you'll need are a pump and a tire lever (maybe not even a lever, depending on the wheel/tire combo and your skills). I second the recommendation to find the thing that gave you the flat. It'll be pretty easy, just run your fingers around the inside of the tire and anything sharp enough to give you a flat, you'll feel pretty easily. Sometimes the thing that gives the flat will come back out, but always look for it.

Contrary to an above poster, I find that patches work great, especially the Rema brand. I have tubes with 4-5 patches in them. If you buy the patch kits, the patches cost $0.25-0.50 each. A new tube costs $6-8. It's pretty easy to figure out which of those is the more mustachian.

Kaspian

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2014, 02:53:40 PM »
Nice!  Sadly, (based on the title), I automatically assumed this was going to be a post where somebody disses mass transit as plebeian and somehow justifies buying a car instead and wants the MMM community support for their dumbass move.  Instead, it's a good surprise.  Good job!  I'm personally thinking of getting one of those collapsible bikes.  The ones that fold up into the size of a briefcase so you can just carry it indoors with you.  I know they make some really good ones now.  My friend who lives in Spain swears by his.

minority_finance_mo

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2014, 07:41:39 PM »
Hi all,

Thank you so much for all your advice about bike repairs. I went to the bike shop this morning and purchased a pump and a repair kit. From now on, I will be fixing my bikes the MMM way - huzzah!

You might also see if there is a university bike shop. The university where I work has their own repair/rental shop for students and staff, and since it's intended as a service rather than a profit-maker, the rates to buy gear or have repairs are very reasonable.

Unfortunately, I go to a very unmustachian university. Of the 15,000+ students on campus, I see maybe 3-4 bikes a day. (Meaning I make up potentially 20-25% of the bike population in my college - woo! Think of what I can do with that kind of influence...)

minority_finance_mo

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2014, 07:44:45 PM »
Nice!  Sadly, (based on the title), I automatically assumed this was going to be a post where somebody disses mass transit as plebeian and somehow justifies buying a car instead and wants the MMM community support for their dumbass move.  Instead, it's a good surprise.  Good job!  I'm personally thinking of getting one of those collapsible bikes.  The ones that fold up into the size of a briefcase so you can just carry it indoors with you.  I know they make some really good ones now.  My friend who lives in Spain swears by his.

Kaspian, sorry to disappoint :P

I've been thinking hard about those bikes as well. My goal is to travel to neighboring states on a budget, and thinking about how much better my experience would be with a bike for sight-seeing. A collapsible bike would allow me to take my bike there. Decisions, decisions.

PS: If anyone has any experience renting a bike (even Craigslist rental) for a week or so on a trip, please do share. I'd love to hear that type of a story!

kendallf

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2014, 09:42:27 PM »
I'm personally thinking of getting one of those collapsible bikes.  The ones that fold up into the size of a briefcase so you can just carry it indoors with you.  I know they make some really good ones now.  My friend who lives in Spain swears by his.

Kaspian, sorry to disappoint :P

I've been thinking hard about those bikes as well. My goal is to travel to neighboring states on a budget, and thinking about how much better my experience would be with a bike for sight-seeing. A collapsible bike would allow me to take my bike there. Decisions, decisions.

PS: If anyone has any experience renting a bike (even Craigslist rental) for a week or so on a trip, please do share. I'd love to hear that type of a story!

Congrats on getting out on the bike!  When you've had a few months to ride, you'll probably find that your <4 mile commute turns into something more like 15 minutes.  Quicker than waiting on the bus on a good day.  :-)

I have a "coupled" bike that comes apart and packs into an airline legal case; I take it everywhere with me.  A good number of the folding bikes actually won't fold into a size that the airline will take as regular luggage.   They're also (usually) a compromise for any longer rides.  They're more useful for car trips, short urban trips where you'd like to carry the bike into your office, that sort of thing.

The downside of the full size coupled bikes like mine is that they take a good bit of time to assemble and disassemble.  I don't bother for 1 or 2 day trips, but anything longer and it's worth it.  It was also quite expensive by Mustachian standards; roughly $800 to have the conversion done on a frame that I already owned, along with buying the dedicated travel case.

I have rented a bike a few times; experiences were usually good but the cost quickly mounts if you need one for more than a day or two.  The going rate most places seems to be $25/day and up.  Ironically, you can often rent a car more cheaply..

veloman

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2014, 10:48:37 PM »
Search "Sheldon brown". All you need to know about fixing bikes is on his site.

Every person who uses a bike should know how to fix a flat and the necessary tube and tools to do so. It takes 5 minutes. Also, its a good investment to go with a high quality tire like schwalbe marathon.

minority_finance_mo

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2014, 11:08:14 PM »


The downside of the full size coupled bikes like mine is that they take a good bit of time to assemble and disassemble.  I don't bother for 1 or 2 day trips, but anything longer and it's worth it.  It was also quite expensive by Mustachian standards; roughly $800 to have the conversion done on a frame that I already owned, along with buying the dedicated travel case.

I have rented a bike a few times; experiences were usually good but the cost quickly mounts if you need one for more than a day or two.  The going rate most places seems to be $25/day and up.  Ironically, you can often rent a car more cheaply..

Thanks so much for your reply Kendallf! I don't think that kind of expense makes sense for me yet. Perhaps in a year or two, when I'm traveling more often.

Interesting comment about renting a car being cheaper than renting a bike. I'll have to look into bike rentals in my area then! Perhaps I can purchase another bike for rental purposes, haha.

minority_finance_mo

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2014, 11:39:15 PM »

Congrats on getting out on the bike!  When you've had a few months to ride, you'll probably find that your <4 mile commute turns into something more like 15 minutes.  Quicker than waiting on the bus on a good day.  :-)


By the way, awesome point here Kendallf. It's interesting that you mention commutes getting easier over time, because I was just marveling how the steep hill over which I have to bike each day seemed a little less steep today. This after only a few weeks - I'm excited to see further improvements over time!

Bob W

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2014, 08:50:53 AM »
I concur -  I think within a matter of months your 3 mile bike commute will be something like 15 minutes.   You will hardly notice it at that point. 

Plus you will be developing frugal muscles to the max.   In the future you won't own a car and live within a 15 minute bike commute to work.   

Johnez

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #21 on: December 23, 2014, 02:00:06 PM »
I think this qualifies as s triple whammy
here-bicycle, used, AND craigslist. Definitely badass.

To minimize down time due to flats, I recommend getting some sort of tire protection in place. A pair of tireliners (Mr. Tuffy gets good feedback) runs less than $20 on Amazon.

Also, if you are new to biking, I highly recommend attaching both front and rear lights. Another thing to consider is a very bright road vest.

Be safe and have fun with your new found freedom and cash!

80Westy

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Re: First Step From the Evils of Mass Transit
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2014, 03:34:42 PM »
+1 Johnez.

I have bike commuted for 8 years in the past and swear by tireliners.  Cuts down the incidence of flats tremendously.  And keep patching those tubes, but also carry a new one because you will get an un-patchable tear eventually.

Great job!