PlanBike for Motorists

Confession: This Cyclist Drives

As an avid cyclist and cycling advocate, my two-person family still has two cars. Ugh.

The reason: even though we live in a metropolitan area, we live high in the hills of Oakland, California where there is scant bus or train service. It may as well be the country. When my wife and I both need to quickly get to separate destinations (especially with cargo), cars are the only option. This is doubly true when returning back up our 900 foot vertical climb.

Public Transport: Limited Progress

In many metropolitan areas, there is unprecedented effort to expand public transportation infrastructure and its use. Even places known for their auto-centricity, like Los Angeles, have made great strides.

Despite all this, in many situations the automobile is still the only way to get around in a timely manner with kids, groceries, etc. Furthermore, budget cuts, planning bureaucracy, and the sheer sprawling layout of many cities mean that the automobile will continue to play a vital role as transport for the foreseeable future.

Optimizing Suboptimal Transport

Nevertheless, suboptimal public transportation is no excuse to simply drive alone in our cars. Instead, we can find ways to maximize the utility of an auto-based transportation system while we expand the alternative systems. Folks around the San Francisco Bay Area already do that during commute times with something called "casual carpool".

Casual Carpool

People driving alone into San Francisco, go to one of dozens of casual carpool stops where "riders" (total strangers) climb into their empty cars and share a ride into the city. Voila! The car ride is 4 times more productive than if the driver rode alone. The driver gets a discount on the bridge toll, the bridge and subway systems get less congestion, and the world gets less pollution. All this without any added cost, fancy technology, or any formal organization. However, casual carpool does nothing for folks needing to get anywhere besides downtown during commute hours. That leaves a huge gap.

PlanBike for Motorists

Casual carpool is great but riders can only walk so far so fast from a dropoff point. What if motorists had bike racks on their car? That would radically expand the range of any "rider" after the car reaches its destination. What if cyclists and rack-enabled motorists identified themselves with PlanBike stickers so that they could match up anytime anywhere? 

That's essentially what a growing number of my motorist and cyclist friends are doing. It is working so fabulously I thought it was time to share this here. When my friends plan to meet out, one of us bikes to the meeting place and then share the car after. This also eliminates the need to stash the bike somewhere and return for it after we piled into the car.

Bike/Car Cooperation Benefits

  • boosts cars efficiency dramatically
  • boosts bicycle range dramatically
  • possible to do quickly: overnight, all motorists can install bike racks. Folding bikes even eliminate the need for racks altogether.
  • possible to do with little money: some racks cost less the $100. 
  • improves relations between motorists and cyclists by literally getting them side-by-side. 
  • makes a profound impact on global health and environmental issues without waiting: aka the fulfills the PlanBike Mission.

Join Us

If you are a motorist, I hope you'll join motorists that have installed bike racks and give rides to cyclists whenever possible. It is easy and rewarding.

Doing The Least

If you are a motorist who is not ready to start sharing your car but believes in sharing the roads with other modes of transport like cycling, place a Sharrow Heart bumper sticker on your car. At the very least, you'll spread awareness among fellow drivers. To obtain Sharrow Heart sticker, just click this link. I only charge what it takes to recoup my costs and I only spend this on more stickers. :-)