Commuting with Barry Mainwood
Barry Mainwood, the owner of Mainly Editing, is very active in the bike community, including volunteering and being one of the co-founders of Bublr Bikes, a bike share program in the Milwaukee area. Once a casual rider, Barry evolved his lifestyle to include daily bike commuting and road riding for charity and pleasure. He shares his experiences and how you can get started commuting to work.
What is your typical commute to work?
I commute 15 miles each way from my house in New Berlin to my studio in Milwaukee’s Third Ward using the Hank Aaron State Trail for half the ride. I commute year-round but usually only ride in the Winter when it’s above 15 degrees in the morning.
Between my commuting and road riding, I average over 8,000 miles a year.
What motivated you, and how did you get started commuting to work?
I was a casual biker in my early days. Commuting got me up and moving daily. I also bought better bikes which have made a big difference in my riding.
When I started bike commuting 15 years ago, there were no dedicated bike trails like the Hank Aaron and a lot more barriers to riding. Finding a bike route was a challenge because there were no Google Maps. So I printed a map, highlighted a possible way, put that in a ZipLock bag, and took off. It taught me what the safe and not-so-safe routes were.
What’s changed over the years for bike commuters? What are further changes needed?
Two significant changes are underway in communities around Wisconsin and Illinois to improve bike commuting.
First, the trail infrastructure is a hundred times better than when I started commuting. The Hank Aaron State Trail is an excellent example of how adding an east-west bike path through Milwaukee County has improved biking. More people are commuting as a result.
Second, technology like Strava or Garmin has made it easy to find routes and get information on popular routes that others are using.
I would add that technology has both helped and harmed riding. The most significant changes around riding safety pertain to distracted drivers on their phones. We need more protected bike/pedestrian paths and other key initiatives to take place, so more people feel comfortable commuting and riding.
Lots of people would love to bike to work but don’t know where to begin. What’s your advice for beginner commuters?
Map out an excellent route to get to-and-from work. Tap into others who can give you advice or ride with you on your first commute.
Make sure you have the appropriate dress for your daily ride. Decide what to wear on the ride and what you’ll need for work.
Get a good, reliable bike with decent tires. It will make all the difference.