One Man’s Commute

By David Sullivan

dave on his bike

Sure, lots of folks travel by one or two modes each day, such as by walking to the garage and driving the riding mower to work, then walking from the parking lot to one’s desk. Or, as is more common, by biking to the bus, taking bus to a point near one’s destination, then then biking the rest of the way to the coffee shop. Personally, I often bike 3 miles to a parking garage where I lock up the bike, then walk two blocks to a bus stop, take bus to a point near my office, then walk the balance of the trip, then reverse the routine in the late afternoon headed home. An alternative is to bike two miles to a train stop, lock up the bike in a nearby parking garage, take the train to a point a mile from my office, then walk or bus that last mile. If I do take the train, I usually do bike-train-walk in the morning but bus-train-bike in the evening, for a four mode day. On a recent day, however, I had a couple of non-routine duties – an offsite business meeting and an after-work non-profit board meeting. So here is how I hit the half-dozen mark for one day travel modes, leaving out short walking trips:

– biked to the parking garage (mode 1),
– rode bus to the office (mode 2),
– rode bus to a point 1 mile from the business meeting (more mode 2),
– walked one mile to the meeting location (mode 3),

After the meeting it was late afternoon, and someone from the business meeting was headed home — in the direction back to my office — and offered me a ride so I

– carpooled 4 miles from meeting to office (mode 4)

I remained at work for another hour, then

– rode bus to Kramer train station (mode 2 again),
– rode train to Highland station for non-profit board meeting (mode 5),
– drove nearby Car2Go back to the parking garage where my bike was parked (mode 6)
– biked home (mode 1 again)

Some might look at my within-city travel on this day and imagine that I wasted lots of time by not just driving for all of my trips. Yes, I admit that doing so would have taken less time. But to me the only time I wasted was my “mode 6” single-occupant driving trip. When I biked and walked, I enjoyed fresh air, the natural environment, and exercise. When I rode the bus, I read the newspaper and a novel. I would have done the same on the train, but a friend was aboard so we chatted about civic issues. Earlier in the car-pool the driver and I had discussed business. So all in all, time periods spent at my normal day job, my off site meetings, and the majority of my travel were all fruitful.

David has been regularly biking, running, and walking for commuting (along with vanpooling, bus & train riding) since 1988. Soon after he got married he sold his car, so they have been a one car family since 1994, with two drivers putting less than 6,000 miles total per year on the odometer. As a result they have saved tens of thousands of dollars on new car purchases, fuel, maintenance, insurance over almost 20 years. Now aged 55,  David typically bikes three miles in the morning, locks up his bike in a parking garage, and take a bus the rest of the way to work. From time to time he bikes 10 miles the whole way, or use the bike & train. He gets exercise on the bike, and reads on the bus – no time wasted. After work he oftens bike to evening events around town. Perspiration is not a problem, as he carries a change of clothes in his pannier, and “shower” with a witch-hazel body spray. He guestimates his bike commutes are 40 to 100 miles per week year around (other exercise comes from running & walking). 

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