Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tales of the commute ...

Well, after nine months of thinking about it, I have finally done it. I rode the folding bike to the bus (71A), folded it, got on the bus and rode several blocks, got off the bus, unfolded and biked the rest of the way to work. I had been driving to work, parking for free on the street, and biking the rest of the way. This morning was, simultaneously, satisfying and the disaster I thought it could be.

I had not seen the Schwinn Run-A-Bout in person when I ordered it from Amazon. I keep telling people it is a compromise bike, in practically every respect. Fold up it does (as Yoda might say), and it is actually compact enough to fit under the handicap bench on PAT buses (as I learned this morning). But only just, and when you get off the bus you have to get it out from under there.

So I left the house I believe around twenty five *to* … seven. I still had to fish the bike from my car trunk, unfold it and I mounted the front light on the handlebar and set it to flash and put the rear flashy thing on my backpack (another five minutes or so). I got to the bus stop at Negley and Hampton at ten to, a bus came in maybe five minutes, I found I could store the bike under the seat and off we went. The disaster part came when more and more people got on, and I realized I was going to have a hell of a time getting off the bus, with the bike. I finally jumped out at Negley and Centre, partly because I thought the bus would empty some (not really) and partly because I remembered the stop at Centre and Aiken usually has a lot of people. I biked the rest of the way to CMU, a bit further than the ride I had planned from Centre and Morewood.

So the leaving the house at 6:35 was a compromise, but not enough of one. I was catching the early part of the Schenley HS crowd, at five to seven, when the bus came. I will have to leave even earlier from home if I want to do this again, although I have no arrangement to leave early from work in the afternoon.

Speaking of which, I have to repeat this silliness, in reverse, this afternoon, to get home. I think I will leave work maybe around 5:30, bike all the way to Negley and Centre, and hope the crowds have thinned at that distance and time. My wife is visiting her mom at the assisted living facility (in Oakland) after work, so I see her as a safety net in case of something going wrong.

Tomorrow I will go back to driving, because I will need to pick up my wife after she picks up, for the last time this year, the local produce we had signed up for through Pitt. Can't say I'm too upset, this will be enough for this week.

Although I used someone else’s diesel today, I haven't used any of my gas (with which I usually drive only myself or maybe also my wife around with). I arrived sweatier than I had planned, but not as bad as when I used to bike the whole way. This was, weirdly, my birthday present to myself, on the day after my birthday. An adventure in compromise, in lowering my impact on the world.


Jonathan Potts said...

I really want a folding bike, but I'm not sure I can justify the expense.

EdHeath said...

Well, I am a very cheap guy. The Schwinn I bought from Amazon is still under $200, and if you agree to get the Amazon VISA card, shipping is free.
There is also the Kent International Ultralite, which can be bought from Walmart for $150 plus tax, and Walmart will ship for free to the Walmart store of your choice. But the Ultralite has been described as being geared very low, so the high gear feels very slow. Also it is not pictured with fenders, so although it might have them you shouldn't assume it will.
My thoughts on the Schwinn folder are on the Amazon website, newly updated.

BobOh said...


Indeed, the bike is like a duck; able to do many things but none very well.