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The Hybrid Commute: Combining Biking with Public Transportation

The most efficient way to get around, in terms of energy put in versus energy put out, is bicycling. That’s one of the reasons bicycle commuting makes so much sense. But if you live a great distance from your workplace, the idea of biking there can be daunting. Why not combine biking with public transportation for an energy-efficient, earth-friendly ride?

The following is an excerpt from Biking to Work by Rory McMullan. It has been adapted for the Web.

If you live too far from work to bike all the way, you can take a folding bicycle on a train and bike to and from the station. There may be other options: for example, a bicycle combined with a bus or train, or a friend’s or colleague’s car. If you are lucky, your home and your workplace will be close to stations on the same line—then you’ll probably find a bicycle and train combination is the quickest way to commute.

Bicycles can be taken free of charge onto most trains; they usually fit in the space for wheelchairs (if not occupied). Some buses also allow bikes, whether stored in the luggage compartment or carried on a bicycle rack on the front of the bus. However, not all trains have space for bikes, especially at rush hour. All is not lost, however, as a folding bicycle is always allowed, and if it is compact enough you can take it anywhere.

Folding bikes can also be fitted into the trunk of most cars. “Park and ride” takes on a whole new meaning with a bike in the trunk: parking on the edge of town and biking is usually the fastest and certainly cheapest way into the center, avoiding both traffic jams and excessive parking charges.

A good folding bike can be expensive, and is sometimes not as comfortable to ride as a full-sized bike; an alternative is to have two bikes. By riding one bike from your home to the station and keeping a second bike at the station close to your work, you can have all the convenience of a folding bicycle without the hassle of carrying it on the train.

A two-bike combination is ideal where a bus trip makes up the bulk of the distance, and the bus does not allow for transport of your bike.

Bicycles are solely human-powered and use no fossil fuels. Bicycles currently displace over 238 million gallons of gasoline per year by replacing car trips with bicycle trips. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) October 2000 Omnibus Household Survey, 41.3 million Americans (20%) used a bicycle for transportation in the 30 days measured in the survey. Bicycling is the second-mostpreferred form of transportation after the automobile, ahead of public transportation. More than 9.2 million (22.3%) of the 41.3 million people who bicycled did so more than ten of the 30 days measured. And, a short, four-mile round trip by bicycle keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe. — courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists (

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