I sometimes get the sense that the debate over bicycling infrastructure and bicycling laws is polarized between people who ride their bikes long distances nearly every day, and certain motorists intensely aggravated by a slight impediment to their commute. I’d like to spare a (self-interested) thought for the commuter that uses a bike as a means of extending their transit commute.
I have a, uh, gap in bike ownership from Age 16 to two weeks ago, so I’m hardly an expert on this subject. However, at the risk of generalizing too much from personal experience, I think I’m an example of how bicycling interests can reach out to transit riders, transit can reach out to cyclists, and cities can help the two meet.
One major impediment to transit ridership is the atrocious land use in many housing and job centers. In my case, my usual workplace is so poorly sited that the two miles between it and the Eastgate Park & Ride adds as much as 30 minutes to my commute, through a combination of transfers, milk runs, and extended walks. For years I’ve searched for a solution, and I finally overcame some hesitation about road safety to try the two-wheeled alternative. It saves me about 15 minutes each way. More after the jump.
It’s important to note what a casual rider like me is willing to do. I have no interest in buying hundreds of dollars of equipment (I spent less than $150 on bike, helmet, and lock combined; thanks, Bikeworks). I had no interest in having to change or shower at the end of the ride, since that would annihilate the time savings; that ruled out buying an outfit or crossing the lake. Lastly, I had no interest in playing roulette on the local arterial, and was saved by the City of Bellevue’s trail system and Google Bikes. Thanks are also due to Metro for their idiotproof “Loading your bike on the bus” webpage and video.
If I had to summarize the keys in getting me to overcome inertia and start biking*, they’d be this:
- Helpful, understanding enthusiasts at Bikeworks who provided me with a low-cost entry point;
- The City of Bellevue, for providing a few key trails;
- Google Bikes, for letting me find that infastructure; and
- Metro, which does a pretty good job reaching out to cyclists.
At any rate, if you’re trying to get people to try cycling, and they’re well disposed to transit already, this might be an angle for you to try.
* I don’t mean to suggest I do this every day; sometimes I take the bus to an informal carpool, which also solves my last mile problem.