Thursday, May 19, 2011

On Commuting: Every Day is a Bike to Work Day

May 12 was bike to work day. To me, every day is a bike to work day. Why shouldn't it be? In January 2011 I stopped driving to my work from East Palo Alto to San Jose and have commuted entirely by bike and Caltrain.

In the last 10 years since I've lived on the Peninsula, the SF Bay Area seems to have become increasingly crowded on highways, for a variety of reasons. While Bay Area transit by bus and BART is good, suburbia basically is not conducive to public transit compared to the city.

But there are alternatives. Weekdays, I ride about 10 miles a day commuting by bike and taking CalTrain. It takes about an hour, I could drive in 1/2 the time. But, I get good exercise, and I never have to sit in traffic — this is the best reason for riding to work. I bought a CalTrain monthly pass that gives me more incentive to ride.

It's hard to commute by bike at first, you have to have all your gear together (key's, wallet, phone, toolkit, extra tubes, pump, change of clothes—check). But once you do this regularly, you get your system down. I prefer to commute in bike clothes and carry a change of clothes for work. Riding in jeans isn't great and wears these out. You have more freedom of movement with bike clothes. I carry an extra small lightweight musette bag so I can easily take the basics (tools, pump tube) if I ride somewhere for lunch. I also carry a canvas shopping bag and stretch cords that makes it easy to do a shopping run on my way home and strap the bag to a rear rack.

I prefer a traditional lugged steel road bike as opposed to a current hybrid bike with an upright position or mountain bike that is great for trails, but generally overweight for the street.

On a road bike you can ride fast and get more leverage with brake levers on drop bars when you need to accelerate quickly at times (i.e.: like when you're riding in traffic) — plus not feel like you're riding in the La Brea tar pits whenever you encounter wind since you can get low, drop a gear and power on.

This is just my preference, but any bike you ride to work is good. It helps the Bay Area environment. Taking CalTrain supports public transit as well.

To those driving to work: consider biking as an alternative. When you do, you'll pay less for car expenses ...and, get some fresh air in the process. © 2011 VeloTouriste.