Tuesday October 23, 2007
Public transportation is slow, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. For anyone in Miami with a car, it’s usually an unthinkable alternative for commuting to work. Between figuring out how to get to the bus station, waiting for a bus, the long ride, and (god forbid) transfers, this is an option most of us dismiss out of hand, despite a vague awareness that riding the bus is somehow socially responsible.
But the solution is surprisingly simple. You throw a bicycle into the equation, and a lot of the problems go away. For the last few weeks, I’ve been taking a combination of bicycle/bus to work, and on the way home biking the whole way. Follows a step-by-step of how I now get to and from work, but first the benefits:
- The environment, stupid. Depending on our commute time and vehicle, we’re shifting the international power balance toward countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia on the front end, and pounding coffin nails into global warming on the back end.
- Exercise. You know you need it.
- Time to read. Books. I don’t know about you, but stupid internet has eaten up most of my book reading time at home. Here’s an hour a day reserved for paper reading.
- Money. A weekly $40 gasoline tab is now a $7.50 bus tab. Not exactly a get-rich plan, but it’s something. Of course people without a car figured all this out years ago.
Can something like this work for you? The answer is, probably. Here’s what you do:
1) Hit the maps. Here’s a link [PDF] to the Miami-Dade transit master map. Confusing, right? No worries — all you’re doing here is getting a general lay of the land, figuring out which buses (or Metrorail, if you’re lucky) may work for you. If you’re lost, try the South Florida Trip Planner.
2) Select route. Here’s the list of routes. Find the ones that seem like possibilities and check the detailed maps of their routes. (Careful: some lines pull sneaky tricks, like running differently on the weekend, or having alternating buses only loop part of the route.) Keep in mind that you can bike between 1 and 2 miles in 10 to 15 minutes, so the route only has to pass within a radius of where you are and where you need to be.
3) Hit the schedules. Each route has schedules for both directions. Of course the buses don’t hit the stop at the precise time listed, but the map will give you a very good idea of how long the ride will take. Backtrack, and figure out what time you need to be at the stop.
4) Flag down the bus. Have $1.50 ready. Bills or coins, but no change provided. Don’t even think about a bus pass — unless you’re riding more then two routes a day, it’s a sucker’s bet. When the bus pulls up, grab the handle on the rack out front and pull forward . . .
5) Secure your bike. Easy. The bike closer to the bus faces this way, the front bike faces the other way. Pull the support arm over your front wheel, and wiggle it snugly into place. This is all fairly idiot-proof, but you can get more detailed instructions if you feel you may exceed Miami-Dade Transit’s idiot-proofing level.
6) Ride. Contrary to popular belief, most buses are not crowded. I get plenty of personal space most of the time. The people watching is not to be underrated, but like I said, this is really an opportunity to get some quality reading done. Get off at the front door, so the bus doesn’t pull away with your bike!
7) Bike home. Bring a change of clothes for the ride home. Take all the side-roads and cut through all the parks you can. Enjoy the fresh air. Easy.comments powered by Disqus