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So, yesterday I went up to Sonoma State University to give a colloquium. Google Maps' default bicycling directions would have led to a distance of around 62 miles, taking about 6 hours, which is a bit too long for a daytrip. If I had rented a car and driven, it would have taken just over an hour. But why would I do that when I could take public transit instead and leave the driving up to someone else?

You see, I live in a region with decent regional public transit, finally.

Here's the part where I struggle with the Goog's integration of things. It took some finagling to work out that I could ride my bike up to the El Cerrito del Norte Bart station/transit center, where bus 40 originates, and take bus 40 to the other end of the line at the San Rafael Transit Center. At San Rafael, I hopped onto the number 101 bus, which follows Highway 101 to the north. I missed my stop in Cotati, though - it occurred to me to start checking the map just as we pulled back onto the highway. So instead I rode the rest of the way up to the Santa Rosa, and then backtracked on the 48 to the 10. For the return trip, I walked the 2 miles back along Cotati Ave so I could catch the 101 back to the 40 and to my bicycle, and then rode in to campus to take care of some cricket work.

The outbound trip took around 3 hours, and the return trip also took about 3 hours, including the walk. Total cost, $20.30. I might have paid slightly too much because the buses here have you tap in *and* tap out with your card, and I didn't tap out on one or two of the buses. Otherwise you pay the full fare to travel the length of the entire route. Three times as long as the direct drive isn't that bad for public transit, and 20 bucks seemed like a good price to pay to have someone else do the driving. The buses weren't overly crowded and the passengers were pretty tame. I only wish I'd brought a book - not so I could read on the bus, but so I could read while waiting at the transit centers. Oh, and I wish I had a better bladder. I might have been able to find places to pee midway through the route if I'd looked.

As with the times when I drive to get places, I am grateful I don't go on this sort of long-distance commute on a regular basis.

I think my talk went reasonably well.

A friend-of-a-friend up in the Seattle area has been posting photos recently of his bike-bus-trail run triathlons. Our family tried to take public transportation to Issaquah once to go hiking, except our guidebook was too far out of date so we couldn't find the trailhead. This other guy appears to be having more success with the combination.

Under other circumstances it probably would have been useful to have brought along a bicycle for the trip.


( 9 remarks — Remark )
May. 5th, 2016 04:10 am (UTC)
Aw, man, that sounds painful. It also sounds like a perfect place for an e-bike. Having a 25mph cruise speed, even if there are a ton of stopsigns/stoplights, still would end up being comparable with any other form of transport.
May. 5th, 2016 04:09 pm (UTC)
Good point!

The only trouble would be the initial stage of the trip, which crosses over a bridge that doesn't have bike access.
May. 5th, 2016 06:36 pm (UTC)
Arrrrrrgh I hate that.
May. 5th, 2016 09:13 pm (UTC)
The thing this page doesn't show very well is that the three bridges where it isn't possible to cross are the three main east-west crossings over the Bay. Bicyclists have to go all the way down to the Crotch of the Bay Area (Dumbarton Bridge) or throw bikes on public transit otherwise. Some day the route over the San Francisco-Oakland bridge will open up, but I suspect it will be another decade or two before that happens. Hopefully I'll be long gone by then. By comparison, Seattle's doing fantastically.
May. 5th, 2016 11:30 pm (UTC)
Somehow, *I* assume the bay area will be really forwards-thinking on transportation issues, but that sounds lousy.
Maybe the commute across involves a Yakima mount on the back of a rowing shell?
May. 9th, 2016 03:00 pm (UTC)
I guess I didn't know how good we had it! Albuquerque is worse than here, for sure. Blacksburg (where I went to grad school) was trivially easy, but it's basically a college town -- not a lot nearby that I wanted to go to, so most trips were at most two miles.

I am kind of astonished at "three times as long as the direct drive isn't that bad for public transit"... I mean, that tallies with my actual experience too, but I think that's a part of why I so rarely take buses and only usually end up doing trains. Here, biking is often the fastest option and that's great! So I do that. I prefer biking to driving, but if driving will get me somewhere in half the time, I'll usually end up driving. I think my priorities are at least half in time-spent-in-trip, so only light rail ever beats my other options in the transit realm. Now I wonder what is the most important factor to other folks, time, cheapness, eco-friendliness, fun, being able to read while you ride, or what, heh.
May. 9th, 2016 04:49 pm (UTC)
My dad, who has training as a transportation engineer, once told me that transportation specialists figure on a factor of 2-5 times as long via public transit as compared to direct driving. In that respect, three times as long isn't so bad, eh?

In Tempe, when I first started taking oil painting classes at a facility 3 miles from home, I didn't have a good way to transport wet canvases by bicycle, so I would take the bus. It required two buses and took an hour, and I had to fend off people who were inquisitive about my paintings. Then a friend gave me my first bike trailer, which could hold a painting, and I could bike directly there in 20 minutes.

I actively enjoy biking as transportation to get somewhere. I actively dislike driving, especially in busy places where I don't necessarily know where I'm going (=all of the freeway traffic out here). So under those circumstances, I vastly prefer leaving the driving up to someone else. Even though I can't read on the bus, I can at least devote that time to some high-quality thinking time. In the U.S. buses tend to be less nice than trains in terms of clientele and condition, and I can read on trains, so I'm biased in favor of trains. That said, the riders on this trip were all very civilized!

The only time I tolerate driving is long-distance adventure driving on two-lane highways.
May. 6th, 2016 10:26 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering if one of these


would be able to travel in traffic lanes over bridges?

I want one.
May. 9th, 2016 04:50 pm (UTC)
I wish! I think most people have instead looked at various amphibious vehicles, which sounds like tremendous fun to me.
( 9 remarks — Remark )

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