Friday, May 23, 2014

Spoken Wheel: Stories from Snohomish County Bikers

Our next Spoken Wheel story comes from Mark Fagan from Esterline, our newest Community Transit Smart Commuter of the Quarter. Mark has been riding his bike to work ever since his car died 18 months ago and he has been enjoying the positive effects to both his health and his wallet. 

Mark shared some of his thoughts on how biking to work has impacted his life:

I have been fortunate enough to work for a company which has consistently fostered a culture of creative commuting. We are given support through administrative assistance in coordinating Rideshare groups, Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Awareness events, and even subsidies for CTR participation.

A few years ago, my company moved the plant from Seattle to Everett. That same year, Community Transit introduced The Swift rapid bus line. That put me in range for a bicycle/bus commute. I tried the bike/bus commute on and off, but hadn’t really committed until a couple of years ago when the transmission on my car went out (for the second time). That was the tipping point for me. We had a family meeting and it was agreed that we could easily be a one car family.

I found a good deal on a used Cannondale road bike, which I then converted to a commuter rig complete with expandable luggage and heavy duty rims. I researched the best route to take between work and home using Google Maps and With this combination, I was able to easily customize a bike route and compile an accurate elevation profile. On my first commute trip, I found that not only was I capable of completing the route, but I actually enjoyed it! I thought about all the gas money I would save, the carbon emissions I wouldn't produce, and it certainly couldn't hurt my waistline. I resolved to go for one whole year without a car.

Each year my colleagues form two teams to participate in the Commute Challenge for Bike to Work month. Last year, I volunteered to captain one of the teams (Go CycleOps!). We had a lot of fun, getting to exercise while indulging our competitive spirit. At the end of Bike to Work Month, we had a surprisingly satisfying outcome. We tied. One team won from trip rate, and the other for cumulative miles. We had a great time and I’m looking forward to doing it again.
I passed the one year “car-less” milestone about 6 months ago. I've found that between a Community Transit Vanpool, the Swift Bus, and my bicycle, I haven’t really missed having a car much. When I do, I rent one and still come out ahead. Maybe next year I’ll buy a car. I’m in no hurry.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spoken Wheel: Stories from Snohomish County Bikers

Michael on his way to work
Michael Cawrse is a Stormwater Engineering Technician for the City of Edmonds. He has been riding his bike to work, rain or shine, from his home in Seattle to Edmonds for years. In 2013, he was selected to be Community Transit’s Smart Commuter of the Quarter for his commitment to reducing traffic and emissions by biking and carpooling to work.

Mike shared some of his thoughts on Bike to Work Month:
“It’s been great seeing all the bike riders the last few weeks, especially now that Bike to Work and School Month is in full swing. It is a great time to take advantage of the (hopefully) warmer weather to save your gas money and get healthy.
And if you pick just one day to ride, make it Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 16. Check your route beforehand and see if there are any Commute Stations ( giving out swag. And if you’re in Edmonds, my co-workers and I will see you at the Commute Station near the ferry terminal!!
Lastly, a safety tip to all riders - yell 'On Your Left' when passing other riders or pedestrians."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Spring into Gear: Tips for New Bike Commuters

Today marks the first day of national Bike Month and now is a great time to pull your bicycle out of the garage and give biking to work or school a try.  Biking is a great way to avoid traffic stress and the costs of driving.  It’s also a great way to combine your commute with your workout!

For a new bike commuter, here are just a few tips to help you get started:

1.    Plan your route in advance. Usually there are several ways to get from your house to the office. Consider taking the easiest route with the least amount of traffic even if it is longer.  
    • Download the newly updated Snohomish County Bike Map to find bike friendly routes from your home or work.
    • Visit Google Maps biking feature to input your starting point and destination and get suggested routes.
2.    Try a practice run on the weekend and pay attention to how much time it takes so you can avoid being late to work.

3.    Know the proper turn signals so that you can alert drivers, pedestrians and other bikers of your actions:
    • Right turn signal - either hold your right arm out, or hold your left arm up, with bent elbow. You don’t have to keep your arm out through the turn – you may need both hands on the handlebars to keep control of your bicycle.
    • Left turn signal - left hand straight out
    • Brake signal - left hand pointed down bend at the elbow at a 45 degree angle
4.    Get a light.  A simple headlight or flashing light on your bike or person can make you more visible to drivers.  Bike lights can be purchased at most bicycle shops and sports stores for as little as $5.

5.    Wear a helmet.  Not only is it the law in Washington State, but a helmet can protect you if something unexpected happens.

6.    Be prepared for weather.  Be sure to check out the forecast before you leave the house and make sure you have the right gear with you including sunglasses (hopefully!), rain gear or gloves.

7.    Bring in clothes, lunches and other items you need to bring from home to work for the week in on the weekend so you don’t have to worry about them on your ride.  If you need to bring items with you each day, consider purchasing a bike bag or rack which can be purchased at most bicycle shops and sport stores.

8.    Find out ahead of time where you can park your bike at your workplace and where you can store any bike gear.

9.    Keep up on bike maintenance and cleaning for a smoother ride and to make sure you catch any problems early.

10.  Remember, if you have a long commute to work you don’t have to bike the whole way.  Check out if there are transit routes that can get you near work or home and you can bike the rest of the way.  All regional buses and trains are equipped with bike racks and many transit centers and park & rides have bike lockers or racks for you to park your bike.
    • Visit our website for more information on biking and busing.

Community Transit is supporting bike activities all month long throughout Snohomish County. To learn more about Bike Month events and resources, visit our Bike Month webpage.