Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips
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But what if your workplace is farther away than you want or are able to ride? In the U.S., many destinations are scattered in sprawling low-density regions, making it a challenge to bike the whole way. Perhaps you can combine bicycling with transit or driving to complete your trip.
My wife used to work in San Mateo, about 20 miles away from our home in San Francisco. She would travel to work using a combination of bicycling and transit. She would ride about 2.5 miles to the Caltrain station at 4th and Townsend Streets in San Francisco, board the train, and get off at Burlingame. Another two-mile ride completed her journey to work. Most days it would take her about an hour, which is about the time it would have taken if she had driven.
Many transit systems are developing better intermodal access for cyclists. Caltrain, which runs from San Francisco to San Jose, is a national leader in bike access. This has proven enormously popular among the technical types who reside in the city and work in Silicon Valley. MUNI, San Francisco's bus and trolley service, has now installed bike racks on most routes. Most ferry services in the Bay Area provide bike access. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), allows bikes on all cars, except during certain peak commute hours (just when you need it). My current multimodal commute combines the Amtrak Capitol Corridor and bicycle to travel the 17 miles between my home in Sacramento and office at UC Davis.
While many transit agencies are slowly getting enlightened, we're not there yet. Even the Bay Area, a pioneering leader in intermodal access, blocks much bike access. For instance, cyclists who work across the Bay continue to be discouraged by BART's rush-hour freeze. Yet many cyclists who are frustrated with their local transit agency's resistance to bikes still find ways to combine cycling and transit.
Most transit agencies allow people with folding bikes aboard their trains or buses, even during peak rush hour. Popular models include folders made by Breezer, Bike Friday, and Brompton. Some people even use two bikes--one to get to the nearest transit stop, and one at their destination stop. Many transit agencies are installing secure bike lockers, generally offered at low cost. And there is an encouraging trend toward the creation of dedicated Bikestations at transit hubs, such as Warm Planet Bikes at San Francisco's busy Caltrain terminal, creating facilities that support intermodal travel by providing secure bike parking and other services.
And don't hesitate to consider driving part of the away, and biking the rest. Many people do this, often to avoid parking fees at the workplace. Gradually to you can reduce your reliance on driving, or try biking the whole distance only a few days a week.
So even if your office or workplace seems far away, with a little consideration, you can find a way to combine bicycling and transit or driving to reach your destination.
Comments? Suggestions? Contact || Updated 08.17.11
Images: Bike rack on MUNI bus (top); crowded CalTrain bike car, photo by Richard Masoner.