I am going to try commuting to work via bike and am really excited about it. The problem is, I haven't really ridden a bike in the past 15 years, when I was in high school. I used to love biking but it just was never really possible to bike to work until now. What are some big ways in which cycling has changed in the past 15 years or so?
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One thing that I think has changed significantly is the quality of department store bikes. It used to be that you could go down to your local department store to get a quality bike. I'm not sure exactly when the transition happened, whether it was 10, 15, or 20 years ago, but at some point, almost all the bikes at large retailers became extremely low quality. Canadian Tire used to be a place to get a pretty decent bike. I use a 20 year old Canadian Tire (SuperCycle) as my rain bike.
You pretty much have to go to a bike shop, or at least a dedicated sports store to get a decent quality bike that you can depend on. And when you are commuting, you want something you can depend on.
A few differences off the top of my (mtb) head:
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Others have mentioned changes in the available equipment and the increase in bike lanes and paths.
Two major changes I've seen in my area are
There a few questions that mention Los Angeles that may also help you.