2/12/2013

Bike Commuting

Since moving to Texas, I've been commuting by bike to work. Partly out of necessity, partly due to the need for exercise. We still only have one car and Austin lacks the robust public transportation that the DC metro area has. Instead of buying a car, I sought alternative ways to get to work. I work for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, aka TCEQ, which is about 12 miles from my house. I found a van pool that picks up at the CapMetro Lakeline station about five miles from my house. No buses run in my neighborhood, so I had to find a way to get to the station. Waking up the family every morning at the crack of dawn to get to me to the station by 7am then pick me up in the afternoon was out of the question. I certainly wasn't going to call a taxi everyday, so my only other option was to ride my bike.

I rode the route a couple of times the weekend before I was to start working. The route is mostly flat and part of the route has a bike lane. My biking Dad's group friends back in DC will be happy to know that I ride my bike as a single speed, not having to change gears on my route. The van pool picks up at 7am, so I leave the house at 6:15am. It takes about 30 minutes. After a week I found a short cut through an elementary school that cut a half mile off the route. Then a couple of days ago I found a residential road closed to traffic because it's still under construction that takes me off the busy, traffic filled main road. Now the route is entirely through residential neighborhoods. The closed road is paved but unlit, and even with a great bike headlight, it's scary riding down a dark, deserted road at 6:30 in the morning. Check out my route in the map below.

View 2/12/2013 6:12am in a larger map

The move cost us a bundle, so I haven't bought a commuter bike yet. I'm riding my mountain bike for the time being. I pack my work clothes, lunch and anything else I need in a backpack. Fortunately TCEQ has a gym with a locker room and showers, which comes in very handy for a bike commuter. I bought a quality headlight and taillight so cars will see me and I can see where I'm going in the wee hours of the morning. As we get settled in Austin and I free up some fundage, I'll buy a commuter bike, trunk bag, panniers, more bike clothes and rain gear. I've already rode in light rain twice.

Austin is a bike friendly town. I see quite a few people bike commuting. I'm happy to be part of that community. Riding 10 miles a day five days a week is hard but fun. It only takes an hour round trip, and even with a 40 minute round trip van ride, my commute in Austin is still shorter than my DC commute. And I get a workout in to boot.