I ride a north-south route between my home and work in the East Bay. My route home is slightly different than my route in to work, mostly due to different traffic patterns at the different hours. I work 7-4, which I changed to specifically so that in the middle of winter both my trips each day would *not* be in the dark. At 6:30 when I leave there is very little traffic on the road so with plenty of bike lights and a well thought out route, I have the best situation I can get. I've tinkered with my route over the years to get it to where it is today.
I've been commuting to work 5 days a week, year-round since I moved to California 8 years ago. On the east coast, I used public transportation to get to work in DC. There is a small group of every day bike commuters here at work and I've found that group, my recreational bike club, and several local bicycle advocacy groups to be great for input and ideas on commuting, gear, clothing, etc. I've worked in bike shops when in college and have always tinkered with bikes at home, but I think anyone can learn a core set of mechanical skills necessary for maintaining their bike. Just never think you know it all about bikes because there is always one more cool idea to learn. I personally like bikes because they seem to be one of the last owner servicable products out there. With simple bikes, you don't need to take it back to the dealer to hook up to some computer to get a set of error codes. You can diagnose your self and fix it your self. And if you can't you ask the people in your local bike club or bike advocacy group.
If a car driver yells at you for being on the road, you can more effectively piss them off if you yell to them 'have a nice day'. To seal the deal, smile when you say it.
Not everyone can ride to work more quickly than they can drive, but the difference is usually not great. Until you start adding things in. Most people think a lot about finally getting back into shape, and some that actually attempt to do something about that will join a fitness club. If you are lucky, you'll spend $25 a month for dues. Add to that towel fees. Then add to that the commute costs to get there and back. Then add to that the time it takes to get there and back, and in between, the time you exercise. Take some of that time and some of that money and 'give' it to bike commuting. You'll come out ahead there, and you'll come out ahead on your work commute too.