|Folding Bike on the Bay Bridge|
A Return to Cycling Hit RoadblocksA few years back, I revived a huge passion for cycling and bike advocacy. My goal was to really use the bike as my primary, if not exclusive, mode of transportation. However, it quickly became apparent that this was impossible for the following reasons.
|Bridge Bike Lane not yet even halfway.|
- The San Mateo Bridge has no way for bikes to cross.
- The Bay Bridge has half a bike lane that sits half finished. BART has scarce space for bikes at crucial times.
|Bike lanes often stop at overpasses.|
Some of these issues were mitigated by heavy use of bus and train, and by inspiring a number of friends and family to create a network of bike racks on our cars.
Limits to Bus, Train, Or Friend
|Friends with bike racks are few.|
|Bus bike racks fill up quick.|
|Folding fits well with rush hour|
Even then, having the bike all the time wasn't full-proof the way your primary transport needs to be:
- Few friends had racks. Even then, bikes on them would get "racked" when we forgot and entered a garage
- The few bike racks on buses were often full. So cyclists must wait up to an hour for another one which also might be full.
- Train systems had varying restrictions:
- BART, at the time, had outright bans on bikes during rush hour: when cyclists needed it. They've since revoked this. Nevertheless, it is a real challenge getting a full size bike on board.
- CalTrain restricts bikes to two "bike cars" that are stuffed during rush hour. So cyclists are bumped to the next train like with the bus.
PlanBike 1.0 FailedAll in all, in using a regular bike for all transport just didn't work in a vast car-centric metropolis. I could not count on:
- safe roads to the destination
- enough time or speed for the hills and distance
- enough rack space on a bus
- enough "bike car" space on a train
- enough friends with car racks
What to do? The answer turned out to be getting a folding bicycle.
Folding Flexibility To The Rescue
Overcoming Folding Perception
|Bike Friday Tikit in Geeky Splendor|
If even cyclists felt that way, it was a question how these could appeal to the non-cyclists I am still hoping to inspire. Nevertheless, they seemed to solve many of the issues I was facing so I gave one a try.
Barring a few missteps (more on that in future installments), the decision has been a great success.
The Catalyst for All Transport Modes
|Folding Bikes in luggage Cars.|
With a folding bike, you always have a ride on the other side of the bridge, road, mountain, or ocean, that is too dangerous or impractical for bikes.
They are the perfect catalyst to link all transport modes into a working solution. The only other transport mode that comes close to being this flexible are legs but legs are not nearly as fast.
The Ultimate Social Bicycle
|Folding Bikes easily fit in cars.|
No matter what mode of transport you take as a group, the folding bike can fit. You are never bumped or banished from using any transportation resource.
For this reason, folding bikes are the ultimate social bicycle. They collaborate nicely with whatever transport your friends choose or with whatever safe/effective transport mode is available.
Welcome Inside Buses, Trains, Planes, Cars
|Folding Bikes fly in a regular suitcase.|
- a bus
- a train's luggage car
- an Über or a friend's trunk
- a water taxi or ferry
- checked airplane luggage (for no additional fee)
Welcome Inside Buildings
|Folding Bikes are welcome in stores.|
- coat check rooms
- small home closets
|Folding Bikes fit in tiny closets.|
Stealthy PerformanceIf all that weren't enough, folding bikes have evolved way beyond a mere contraption. They are now vehicles of considerable performance.
|50km+ on a good Folding Bike is great.|
Folding Is My New Normal
|Folding Bike down Lombard Street|
Next time, I'll talk about which ones I got and why. There is a lot to consider.