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.

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