Thursday, June 5, 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

Over the past several weeks, I've gradually and reluctantly come to accept the fact that STA's "Bikes on Buses" program is no longer a viable commute option for me. While I'm thrilled to see the ever-increasing numbers of Spokane bike commuters, the personal downside for me is that the competition for rack space has become too intense. I'm not sure what's worse: Being the odd rider out or causing someone else to be. We're all trying to get to work in a more healthy and environmentally-friendly way, but none of us can afford to be dependent on a commuting scheme that can't get us to work on time consistently. To be fair, most bus drivers will accomodate a third bike on board (although some are true assholes . . . sorry, no other way to say it), and the relationship between cyclists is more often cooperative than acrimonious, but still, reliability has become too iffy.

I've had many a bus-bike trip that saved me from getting to work drenched in sweat or maybe just cut my commute time to something I could reasonably live with on a daily basis. So I'll miss my friend the rack.

But at about the same time that I was accepting my fate as a former rackster, my sub-conscious was hatching a new scheme to get me to work by bike. It would be all too easy to bash that pariah, the STA, for all my problems, but I'll be damned if they don't hold the solution to my problem.

Bike lockers!!!

Yeah, why didn't I think of this before? Well, for starters, it requires a little different take on bike commuting, given my route. The normal scheme is to leave from my house with my bike, ride down to the Plaza, where I throw it on a bus, ride the bus out to Industrial Park, and then ride the short remaining distance to work. This gets me to work relativlely fresh (showers aren't available where I work), and in a position to ride home at the end of the day. What the new scheme essentially allows me to do is to "store" bikes at the start and end points of a bus route, so that I can ride to and from the bus at both ends, but never have to worry about actually boarding a bike on the bus. Here's how it will work:

I'll ride from my house to the plaza, lock that bike to a rack at the plaza, jump on the 74 Express to Mirabeau Park and Ride, then retrieve a second bike from the locker there and ride it to work. All I have to do is reverse the plan on the return trip.

View Larger Map

The round trip is only about 14 miles of riding, as opposed to the 20 I was getting with the old method, but it will get me home sooner, so I can do more riding from my house in the evenings. Sounds too simple now, but it wasn't that obvious. I can't believe how excited and relieved I am to once again have a reliable and car-free way to get to work. Can hardly wait to try this out.

But first, I'm going to need a couple of new/old bikes!!! (Hmmm, is that what this is really all about, subconscious?)

No comments: