Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hybrid commuting

Park the car then ride the bike or
ride the bike then drive the car. 
Since May is both National Bike Month and the Ride Smart Challenge I want to share my hybrid commuting examples. I am lucky. Most days I have the luxury of commuting to work by bicycle. I live just the other side of a 1-mile downhill, so after a short assent, I get to zoom downhill to speeds that would make my grandma cringe. On some days, whether it be the weather, the fact that I will likely be purchasing several 40-pound bags of cat litter after work, or to rest my legs for an upcoming race, I do what I call a hybrid commute. This is creative solution I recommend for both exercise reasons, and to help maintain a degree of sanity prior to and after an otherwise insane work day. I estimate that I have commuted over 25,000 miles by bicycle 3-4 miles per trip since moving to Blacksburg last century.

My commute is a bit over 4 miles each way to work (and I commute to some meetings throughout the week as well). I could walk to work in about an hour and a half or go by bus with a transfer involving two buses in about 41 minutes, or in about 43 minutes on one route including some walking; I have run it in 42:49 and can make it by bicycle in as quickly as 15:48. Or I can (yawn . . .) drive it in 12 minutes.

Bicycling to school is fun
Or I can create any multitude of “hybrid” commute combinations to get a little physical exercise and to exercise my logistical & planning skills. Running to work (or to school or to complete errands) is fairly straightforward, and was inspired by my running buddy Rick who ran to work for years. I even have running friends who "carpool" home together on occasion. You simply leave clothes and shoes at work. If needed, I run with a pack to carry phone, keys, a strategically packed lunch (or make plans to go out or order out), plan enough time to get to work and catch a shower (again I am lucky: we have shower facilities), or just make due. On the return, I run home again or I have a few bus options including taking the BT Commuter route from work to a stop on S. Main Street, and then either walk home, or catch the Harding bus to a nearby stop.

Another popular hybrid commute involves driving part way and parking. After I park, I open the trunk and slide out my bicycle. I attach my pannier bag and away I go. The back of the Kroger lot is a popular location for me to leave my car, especially when I know I am likely to go grocery shopping after work, and for those days when I am likely to load up on bulky or particularly heavy items that are more conducive to loading into the car.

Or I can bike or walk or run part way, and then catch the bus. Or take the bus part way, and walk or bike or run the rest of the way. Or plant a bike somewhere the night before and walk or run or take the bus to where I left the bike and bike in. I have walked to work once when the snow was particularly bad. Urban snow hike! In fact during graduate school I rode to school everyday no matter the weather (think ski-outfit: goggles, snow boots, snow pants, snowboard gloves, parka). Soon we will have a regional bikeshare (e.g., membership-based, short-term bike rental by the minute) as an option, so that will open up some more hybrid commuting combinations too.

Most transit vehicles
have bike racks
When I fly for business or to visit family in California, I usually hybrid commute too. I recently did a bike-bus-train-bike from home to Washington, D.C. and I often book my airline flights around the Smart Way Commuter bus schedule so I can leave the car at home. Even if I have to take a taxi or Uber from the airport (if my flight arrives after the last bus) that is money well spent. I have parked the car and ridden Megabus too, and then rode Capital Bike Share to my hotel. 

Try a hybrid commute and challenge yourself to ride smart, even if you just start out by parking further from the front door at work so you get in some extra steps for the day. Each day move your car to make the walk a bit longer, one car stall at a time. Try parking and walking from a nearby business. Take inspiration from professor Geoffrey "I walk everywhere" Vining who walks 3 miles to work - about an hour in each direction - every day! You too may find some new ways to get some exercise for both your body and your brain.

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