Thoughts on Commuting

I have a 7 mile commute each way, most of which can be ridden either on bike trails or neighborhood streets with a few moderate to fairly steep hills. There are a number of traffic lights, so it’s not smooth sailing all the way.

I currently do it on a racing road bike, mostly on the road and make it in about 25 mins.

Bikes (regardless if racing or not) tend to make my neck hurt, and I just found out that my boss’ friend was paralyzed last night from a bike accident. Scary stuff. I kind of think I am pushing my luck with this commute.

If I unicycled, I would find a way that would be either on the trails, or on the sidewalk.

I’m wondering if anyone else out there has a similar commute and how long it takes them, and what sized wheel you ride. I would get either a 29 or a 36 for this. I imagine I could average (with stops included) maybe 7 mph, which would take an hour. Kind of long, but I could drive part of the way.

So folks with similar commutes (6-10 miles), how long does it take you, and what size wheel do you recommend. I imagine a 29 might be good when you have lights you want to idle/hop at and/or negotiating pedestrians/obstacles etc.

I’ve never ridden 7 miles but I average ~9mph on my 24" so you could do 7 miles in well under an hour on a 29" or 36".

If you will be commuting both ways 5 days a week you will probably want a 36" but I’m guessing a 29" will be way more than adequate for that length.

It also depends how comfortable you are on various sizes. If you have never tackled a larger wheel and the commute is straight, isolated roads then the 36" might be a bit too intimidating.

I sometimes log times to get to certain places- here’s one with times for the same distance, biking, unicycling and walking

bike 22mins
unicycle 29-er with 125mm cranks 31mins
unicycle 24x3 36mins and also did it another time in 30mins
unicycle quax 26 (150mm cranks) 31mins
walking 1 hr 5mins

not necessarily exactly the same route, but I think it gives a valid idea as to the differences according to vehicle.

Should mention that it involves a fair bit of uphill, so, for a more flat route, I’d expect the bike would be proportionaly more fast than the unicycles.

It’s interesting that the 29-er, overall, wasn’t much faster than the 24x3 and quax- that’s something to bear in mind before you go into the knee-jerk assumption, which I can guarantee many posters here will encourage, that a 36-er is going to be best.

For real-life commuting on real roads/paths, the admittedly higher speed of a 36-er on flat obstacle free routes, can often be severely tempered by the dismounts/remounts necessarily on real life commutes: sometimes a smaller, more controlable wheel can end up faster on these sub hour commutes.

I notice also your motivation for switching from bike to uni, is basically safety, which is commendable- I have a similar focus on being safe: generally, the 36-er is the least safe uni, for several reasons.

What’s the distance for these numbers?

If you decide to switch from bike to uni for your commute, do it because it’s more enjoyable. It is not more efficient. It is not safer (you can ride a bike on the sidewalk if you can ride a uni there).

I commute about 3.5 miles (one way), pretty much flat. I ride my bike more often than I uni, and ride my motorcycle when it’s raining or the air is really smoky from forest fires. I get more sweaty on the uni than the bike, and it takes me more time. But I also find it to be much more fun.

I initially commuted on a 29er. Once I got a 36er and was comfortable enough to ride it on roads with traffic and freemount reliably, I stopped ever using the 29er for the commute. The 36er is definitely faster (I average about 9-10 mph per cycle computer), and I just enjoy riding it more. There are four stop signs and one traffic light on my route. On about 90% of my rides I manage to not have to dismount. Even if I had to dismount 5 times, at this point it wouldn’t save me any energy to ride the 29er, given all the extra pedaling.

So, IMHO, the 36er is generally a better choice for commuting. BUT, you have to be comfortable on the 36er and good at consistent freemounting before that becomes true. If you’re looking to buy a new uni and start commuting on it immediately, the 29er would be the better choice. Which means that basically what you need to do is buy both a 29er and 36er, commute on the 29er until you’re confident on the 36er, then convert the 29er to muni use and commute on the 36er. :slight_smile:

P.S., bikes also hurt my neck, so I switched to recumbents.

My commute is 5 miles (8 km) each way. I have 11 stop signs and 9 traffic signals along the way so you can imagine the delays. I start at 300 feet above sea level and end at 60 feet above sea level on the way in. Two of the hills are 14% grades over about a block and there are various ups and downs besides those. By car it takes 20 minutes. I can do this on a road bike in 30 minutes and on a unicycle in 40 minutes. By bus it takes 45 minutes. On foot it’s 90 minutes.

I ride a 36" when it’s not raining and when the sun is up for the commute both directions. At this latitude the variation in the length of daylight versus darkness is substantial over a year. When it’s dark or rainy I ride my bike.

I doubt if you’re pushing your luck in any way. Your neck pain is totally unrelated to the injury accident you spoke of in the same sentence. That’s the way sensationalist news media (that is to say all of them) get people’s attention; there’s no reason for you to do it. Unicycles are inherently much safer than bicycles because the likelihood of sustaining an injury when there are no other vehicles involved is much less. You just can’t go that fast and there’s no frame to get tangled up in.

Yesterday I did my semi-regular 4 mile “commute” in 28 minutes one way, 29 the other (it’s uphill on the way back) on my 29er - my best times yet, though admittedly I’ve only been riding a year, and less than 6 months on the 29er which I’m still not totally comfortable on. I can manage 10-11mph on a straight road/path (down, flat or up), but those times are slowed a lot by junctions where I’m dismounting or stopping, bits where I have to slow to get round tight corners and encountering people and dogs who I slow for. In comparison I can do that trip on a bike in ~15 mins (+ or - depending on direction) - not only is the bike significantly faster on anything but the final climb home (up to 3 times the speed on the first downhill), but I lose a lot less time on the junctions where I’m road traffic, so don’t generally have to stop - I also don’t have sharp corners or pedestrians on the roads I use on a bike.

As others have suggested, I don’t see any reason why a bike should be less safe than a uni if you ride it at the same speeds and in the same way as you’d ride the uni, though the dangers of bike riding are overstated in any case (and anecdote doesn’t prove anything).

I rode my uni to work this summer from june to end of july, 7 miles each eay, quite hilly including one huge climb and many traffic lights but also bike trails and it took about 34-38 minutes for me on a 36er with 150s. I’d say go for it, I was forced to use a b*ke for a week when I broke my uni’s seat and I found out it’s definitely much more fun on a unicycle! When it comes to wheel size, I’d really recommend a 36" because of the speed but if you have to ride with pedestrians the 29er is definetely safer and with <125mm cranks it’ll be fine!

I guess I was just sketched by that accident.

Seems like it would probably take me close to an hour each way for this commute, which is a bit much when I could get there in half the time.

But riding a bike is so pedestrian.

Wow that seems fast for 7 miles. I’d probably get a 29 because I can’t afford more unis, and a 29 would be more versatile.

My commute (by the route I take if I’m unicycling) is about 9 miles each way, a bit more than half off-road, 1000 ft height difference. Takes me about 45 minutes in (mostly down) and an hour back, either on a 36 with 145s or a 29 with 140s, and I’m no sprinter on a unicycle (don’t like going over 15mph, hence the 36 and 29er times are pretty much the same).

It’s certainly a sensible distance on a unicycle - obviously much slower than a bike but doesn’t take a ridiculous amount of time.

EDIT: It’s pretty rural though, so no town riding or traffic lights involved.

I’m gonna disagree with that thought, I have not been hurt while riding a 36er, whereas I have been hurt more than a few times on smaller unis. Granted I have riddent smaller unis more often and on harder trails than a 36er, but all of my injuries have been on easy trails, makingeasy moves, where I feel akwardly.

I think a 36er gives you more time and a more stable platform for UPD’s, which is why I have not gotten hurt. The worst 36er injury I have had was yesterday when for the first time, the brake/handlebar clipped the back of my calf as I walked out of a dismount and missed the seat grab.

Also, in terms of visability and stability, the 36er is a better choice for road riding, though there really is no uni or bike that is immune to vehicular impacts. I gave up road riding a few years ago after too many close calls for me and my freinds. Though commuting is commendable, my life is too valuable to risk.

I agree

My work is 6 miles away if I go the most direct route. It takes me about 35 minutes on my 36" or my 29". I rarely take the most direct route though. There are a lot of hills on my way to work and I shoot for those. It takes me about 1.25 to 1.5 hours to go these hilly ways. I like the 29 for hills. My 36 does not have a brake and downhill is possible, but slow.

The 36" is more cushy to ride. The 29" more “quick.” Neither seems safer than the other. I commute to work less by unicycle these days. I prefer off road uni after work (while there is light).

…and as the universe revolves around Nurse Ben, even simple concepts like physics will bend to his testimonial.

The 36er is the only wheel I own that can carry me faster than I can run. A UPD at speed guarantees some sort of road rash.

That being said, the high seat of the 36er gives one more visibility than if he was riding on a b*ke.

The trade-off IMO is worth the risk of rash. Just keep the seat a little lower than usual (to absorb bumps in the road) and you’ll be fine.

Obviously, I meant cokers were less safe than smaller wheels when both are used for the same type of riding- in the context of this thread, that’s commuting.

Some of the several reasons are-

  1. I’ve heard way more accounts of limb breakage from riding cokers, than for riding (commuting) on smaller wheels.

  2. the clipping of the leg during UPD seems peculiar to cokers: at least one person on this board has had a severed achilles tendon from a coker ‘peck’.

  3. Cokers are ridden primarily cos they’rew faster than smaller wheels, by necessity that equates to less control than a smaller wheel.

  4. cokers can easily go faster than the speed you can run out of a UPD.

  5. for commuting, smaller wheels are as at home on the sidewalk, as they are on the road. A coker is going to be used primarily on the road, and, a prime reason I favour commuting on my 26-er, is that there are times when the road just does not feel safe.

You’re obviously right that a coker is more visible, but, IMO, the cons far outweigh the pros when we’re talking safety.

I’ve only had one true faceplant off the 36er, and I never want to repeat that. :astonished: But it was when I was still learning to freemount the beast, and I was pushing my luck with short cranks on a fairly loose gravel trail.

I have long legs (35" inseam) and don’t push my speed too much, so a UPD off the front usually gives me enough “hang time” to run out the fall with a few leaping bounds. Or when not, the time in the air gives me a better setup for a roll. I do notice the difference in air time between the 36 and my 29, even though in reality it’s probably in milliseconds.

However, I don’t think I’d describe a 36er as “safer.” On roads, a fall will be at higher speed from greater height than other unis. On trails, falls are more likely for given terrain than other unis (at least for me), also with the greater height (although not necessarily faster, depending on terrain). So I think there are at least some different, if not additional, risks with 36ers.

Nonetheless, the 36er remains my uni of choice for commuting. The benefits outweigh any additional risks, at least for me, on my commute that’s mostly out of traffic.

I ride my 36er through downtown Seattle everyday. Love it. I use my 150’s for in city riding. I have a 2 mile stretch I do everyday that includes riding in a bike lane and on sidewalks. I sometimes pass bike riders on an uphill portion, that always makes me chuckle. I slow down and make sure that people feel safe as I approach. I also use a lot of flashing bike lights to be visable. This helps not just with traffic but also with pedestrians, many of whom are not expecting a rider on the sidewalk. A rearview mirror is also a must. I feel safer on the street than I do when riding on the sidewalk and crossing streets in crosswalks. Cars do not seem to be patient for unicyclists or pedestrians to finish crossing in the crosswalk. Maybe I feel safer in the street because I rode a bike across town for many years. Took me awhile to figure out my safest route, and it has changed as tourists flood the city during the summer months. The response from people has been a blast, I even give a smile at all the old jokes we hear. My favorite is when someone says, “You don’t see that everyday”. I always reply that I see it all the time and most of the time the person will say, “really?”. I have had a couple of good UPD’s though. Nasty road rash and 12 stitches. But it was my own fault. I was looking at a girl who was wearing something that looked like a sock with the toe cut out and pulled up around her hooters. Very exciting. Then splat. Be careful out there.

You don’t own a 29er? I’m kind of surprised if you do - as a beginner uni rider but fairly decent runner (though admittedly not a sprinter) I managed to have a UPD off mine fast enough that I couldn’t run out.