Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips
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In the mid-1990s I was working at San Francisco State University, where, among other things, I had responsibility for maintaining a webpage for the College of Creative Arts. The university offered many web design workshops for faculty and staff, as well as technical assistance for basic web design. I was an eager participant, and began "hard-coding" HTML, aided enormously by Elizabeth Castro's great Peachpit Press Visual Quickstart Guide, HTML, XHTML, and CSS.
San Francisco State University also provided space on its server for individual employees and students, and encouraged us to create personal pages as a way to facilitate our understanding of the rapidly emerging cyberspace revolution. As I was taking my Internet workshops, maintaining my college's site, and considering my personal webpage, I wondered: "What could I offer that might be of interest to anyone?"
At that time, I'd been bike commuting for several years. So I created a modest page describing my experiences traveling by bike, which I launched in 1997. The original URL for the not-very-creatively named "Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips" was:
The original page was rather modest, perhaps 1,000 words total, and intended primarily for my family and friends. However, as search engines discovered it, I began to get emails asking for more information on specific concerns. I continued to expand the page, adding sections and topics. At the time there were few sites available with bike commuting information, and there weren't yet any books published on the subject, such as Dave Glowacz's comprehensive Urban Bikers' Tricks & Tips or Chris Balish's helpful How to Live Well Without Owning a Car.
Eventually, the bike commuting tips "page" got to be fairly long, requiring readers to scroll. In early 2000, I broke the page up into several smaller linked pages.
In December 2000, I accepted a position at UC Davis. I created a new site for my various pages, including the bike commuting tips pages, at RunMuki.com (named for our dog, boss of the household). This new site continues to be hosted by HalfPriceHosting.com.
The year 2006 was a pivotal one. I realized that my Bike Commuting Tips were consistently highly ranked on many search engines. After much deliberation, I decided to monetize this ranking, and began including Google ads on the site, with the modest goal of earning enough to recover my server and domain registration costs.
For most of its history, the Bike Commuting Tips pages had been offered as a free, non-commercial public service. I agonized over the inclusion of advertising, wondering if this might cause some to question its editorial integrity. I still wrestle with this concern. However, the earnings remain fairly small, enough to cover costs, with the remainder sufficient to cover my annual contributions to organizations such as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, and League of American Bicyclists.
Later in 2006 I also added Amazon.com Associates links. Again, I was concerned about maintaining the integrity of the information on these pages. Any product I link to is one I have used, tested, and can honestly recommend. No link is gratuitous. As is obvious, I always encourage people to shop at local bicycle retailers. However, if you do decide to make a purchase through an Amazon.com link on my site, you will get the same low price and a modest percentage of your purchase will help support the continued work of these pages.
Also in 2006, I launched a related bike commute tips blog as a means to provide updates and commentary on my continuing experiences with bike commuting. The blog is also more interactive, allowing for readers to comment directly.
In November 2006 I redesigned the site, making the pages looks slightly less 1997-ish. I am also considering an e-newsletter. This continues to be a labor of love, not of money. (All told, my Google ads and Amazon.com affiliate earnings approximate about $.05 per hour.) For me, bike commuting and sustainable transportation is a cause more than a career. When more people use bikes for transportation, the world will be a better place.
In 2008, I created a Facebook page for my Bike Commute Tips blog, allowing bicycle commuting friends and "fans" to communicate with each other, share ideas, and announce events. In 2009 I started a Twitter account, where I share articles of interest to bicycle commuters.
I have been and continue to be enormously grateful for the support and encouragement of my site visitors over the past decade. As always, I welcome your suggestions and comments.
Gear Test: Bicycle Speakers (Paul Dorn), New York Times, January 7, 2010
Slow news day: Bike blogger profiled, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Out of excuses: You—yes, you—can ride your bike to work, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Sacramento Bee profile of multimodal bike commuter, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Comments? Suggestions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org || Homepage || Updated 08.17.11