April 19, 2013

Anything Goes Commute Challenge: Bike + Shuttle

My typical commute involves riding a shuttle bus to the office. Sometimes the bus stop has been within walking distance of home; it is always within biking distance. While I don’t mind walking on a rainy day, I am a fair-weather cyclist. Fortunately (or not), we don’t see a lot of rain in these parts.

For the cycling segment, I started the clock just before I began rolling, and stopped it before I folded my STRiDA to load it on the shuttle. I then re-started the clock when the bus started rolling, and stopped it before I stepped off in front of the office building where I work.

Along the way I marvel at the daily clog of solo drivers on the freeway. I have a clear view of the drivers (illegally) texting, (illegally) holding their phones to their ears or in front of their faces, eating breakfast, and applying eye liner in the number two lane.

Riding the bike is fun, but slightly stressful as I cope with morning traffic and pass lots of parked cars—always on the alert to avoid being “doored.” Riding the shuttle is totally relaxing; I listen to my favorite podcasts (Car Talk, Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!, Science Friday, Fresh Air). I might check my email and get an early start on the day, but I will suffer from motion sickness if I do much reading. At the end of the day, I have been known to doze off on the way home.

The Stats:

Route: surface streets (bike), freeway carpool lane, surface streets (bus)
Distance: 1.4 miles (bike), 17.71 miles (bus), 19.11 (total)
Elapsed time: 9:11 (bike), 36:20 (bus), 45:31 (total)
Average moving speed: 10 mph (bike), 39.4 mph (bus)
Exercise time: 8:21
Reading/relaxing time: 36:20
Bliss factor: 8
Cost per trip: $0.07 (bike), $0.00 (bus), $0.07 (total)
Enables: Exercise, Plus3Network fundraising for charity (bike); entertainment (podcasts on bus).
The very first time I rode the shuttle and arrived at work relaxed, I was ready to hang up my car keys. The chief downside is that I generally decline most after-work social gatherings. One upside is that I am a free ticket to the carpool lane for a solo driver looking for an express ride home: people woo shuttle riders every afternoon via a mailing list.

It is easy to “need” your car every day, to run an errand or get to an appointment. It just takes a little planning to align commitments to fall on a single weekday, or two.

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