I’ve been wanting to try bike commuting. From our house to my office is about seventeen miles, none of it particularly friendly to cyclists. I don’t have the option of using a nice separated bike lane or path – it’s either the interstate service road or a busy 2-lane highway with fairly narrow shoulders. Could I ride the whole way? Could I drive partway and ride the rest? Could I combine riding a bike and riding the bus? I’ve spent the last month or so experimenting with multi-modal commuting. First I tried just using a bike to do errands around our non-bike-friendly town.
Then I tried part-bike commuting: I drove the car partway to work, pulled a bike off the rack, and rode the rest of the way. It was fun and not all that much more time consuming. But it didn’t accomplish a lot – I was still putting a lot of miles on the car.
Then I tried driving to the closest bus stop – about eleven miles from the house – and taking the bus the rest of the way to work. I thought the bus was fun, but it wasn’t saving any money, and it was using up a lot of time.
Then I tried riding the eleven miles to the bus stop, riding the bus to work, and then reversing that to come home. This was the cheapest, and the most fun, but also the most time consuming – I was leaving at six to be ready for work at eight. In the evening, I’d leave work before five but wouldn’t get home until after seven. I was having a great time, but I was never home, and the housework was behind, and Bryan and I missed each other.
So now I’m back to driving all the way to work again. In just a few weeks of fiddling with my commute, I learned a lot – I’m stronger now, and much better at coping with traffic. I understand how to read the city bus schedules and route maps, and how to use the bike racks on the front of each bus. And maybe most importantly, I know I CAN commute without a car – I can get myself from home in the suburbs to work in town, every day, for several days in a row, and have fun doing it.