More bike capacity on our buses, coming soon

If you’re a bicyclist who also rides Capital Metro, you likely know the frustration of waiting for your bus to arrive, only to discover that both bike slots were full. Shucks. (Insert your own creative expletive here.)

If you’ve had that experience before, you might be interested in our plans to transition our bus fleet to accommodate three bikes per bus. Our vehicle maintenance director gave a high-level overview of our plan to do just that, today at the operations/planning subcommittee meeting.

Capital Metro has outfitted a couple of our buses with a three-bike rack for testing and demonstration purposes. Check it out on Thursday at One Texas Center.

Basically, by 2015, about half of our bus fleet will be outfitted with the three-bike rack. It is more cost-effective to buy and install the rack as part of the specs for a brand new bus; hence, as we order and replace buses in our fleet, we will order them with the new three-bus rack.

You can test the new rack for yourself, this Thursday, Jan. 20. A bus with the new rack will be parked on the north side of One Texas Center, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Bring you bike and test it out! At 6:30, Capital Metro staff will address the Bicycle Advisory Council about our plans for the three-bike racks, a Rails with Trails project update, and more.

Bike to Work Day is over, but the biking continues

Here are a few folks from Capital Metro's crew who rode to work on National Bike to Work Day

Friday was National Bike to Work Day. I hope you were able to participate. It turned out to be a great day for a bike ride, and free breakfast, to boot! Ed Easton (who’s wearing the bright blue shirt in the photo, in the back row) and John-Michael Cortez were handing out breakfast tacos, coffee, and Clif bars at Plaza Saltillo, and more than 50 cyclists stopped in. We thank Nuevo Leon for donating the tacos and Texas Coffee Traders for supplying the coffee.

Although the opportunity to score a free breakfast just for riding your bike is over, you can still be part of Bike Month 2010, which doesn’t officially end until 11:59 p.m. on May 31. Give it a go! If I can do it…

Philosophical observations: biking is like life!

Bike To Work Week has been an extraordinary experience for me.  I have received so much encouragement and advice.  I have already shared my experiences for Day 1.  On Day 2, Tuesday, I had to turn the key on my car to take my Mother to the doctor.  To be honest, I was relieved that she asked me.  I woke up feeling sore in places I do not care to talk about.  On Wednesday, I made it a little further up the hill…even with the knobby tires.  I had to stop on the ride home to catch my breath.  I sat under a tree rehydrating.  I am sure passersby considered it a real sight.  Nonetheless, I got through it.  Thursday, Day 4.  All I can say is, “Ouch!” I am sore…but it’s a good kind of sore.  My husband made me reconsider my ride on Thursday, which I did.  However, I’m back on the bike again today.

Wednesday as I was pedaling along (up the monster hill) and gasping for breath (I really need to change to street tires), it occurred to me that riding a bicycle is a lot like getting through life.

Uphills and Downhills… No matter what road you travel, there will always be uphills and downhills.   Continue reading “Philosophical observations: biking is like life!”

Bike to Work Week, Day 2

I moved to east Austin earlier this year, and yesterday morning I rode my bike to work for the first time from my new location. I’m embarrassed that I hadn’t already been biking to work, as my bike route to work is a mere 2.3 miles.

But as an insecure bike rider, the challenges always seem like obstacles. (I think there are some lessons to be learned in there for us when we talk about how to attract new transit riders…if you are an insecure transit rider, the challenges seem more like obstacles.) My challenges yesterday: 1. I live east of Airport Blvd. Airport Blvd is not an inviting road for biking. Even just crossing over Airport is a bit stressful. To keep my route as direct as possible, I opted to ride on the sidewalk between two intersections on Airport, before cutting over to a side street. 2. When I was ready to ride back home yesterday afternoon, I discovered I had a flat tire. I didn’t have any supplies to fix a flat tire, and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to do it. So, I left my bike and hopped a bus home. I hope to get the flat fixed today so I can try again tomorrow.

But despite the challenges, I never fail to observe something interesting, fun, or different when I’m not behind the wheel of the car. Yesterday morning’s bike ride included two roosters–one on the end of my street crowing good morning, and another closer to work, sitting on a fence post. In the afternoon, my bus drops me off about half a mile from home, and during the walk I passed several creeks, scores of rain lilies, which I love, and also about 20 feet of trailing lantana (purple) along a retaining wall. I never notice this stuff in the car. On future mornings when I am rationalizing why I should sleep a bit more and forget about riding the bike to work, I need to remind myself that there are thousands of small pleasures to notice and appreciate when I’m not isolated from my environment in a car.

Bike to Work Week, Day 1

This week is Bike To Work Week.   This week, yours truly will be riding her bike to Howard Station and from the Downtown Station to the office [approximately 5.5 miles].  Last week, for encouragement, I turned to my friend, Scott.  That is because, for Scott, every week is Bike To Work Week.

Scott with his son

[ck]      Scott, how long have you been commuting to work by bicycle?

[Scott]  For the last four years, my primary methods of commuting are either by bus or bicycle.

[ck]      How far do you commute?

[Scott]  I commute about three miles each way.

[ck]      What was the impetus for taking your bike to work?

[Scott]  There were several motivating factors.  Efficient exercise.  Enjoyment. Believe it or not, it is often much faster; and, it allows my  family to remain a one-car household.

[ck]      So, I get the exercise.  Talk to me about enjoyment.

[Scott]  I really enjoy riding my bike.  It makes me feel like a little kid riding to school.

Continue reading “Bike to Work Week, Day 1”

Tales from a MetroRail rider

******Editor’s note: Carol Keesee is a new Capital Metro rider. She contacted me out of the blue, wanting to capture her observations about making a lifestyle change that included public transit, as well as the stories of the interesting people she has met on MetroRail. Stay tuned for more blog posts by Carol. ********

For those who do not know my story, I am a recently-converted MetroRail commuter. Having lived in the Austin area all of my life, I must admit that I had never given the thought of using Capital Metro a second thought. Instead, I had spent more than thirty years commuting more than thirty miles to work and back home each day.

Riding the bus had never appealed to me. Quite frankly, if I was going to be stuck in traffic, I preferred being stuck in the privacy of my own vehicle. However, the introduction of MetroRail offered a more appealing approach to getting to work. Howard Station is within five miles of my home and the Downtown Station is within one mile of my office. The thought of driving only five miles to the station, boarding a cool-looking train, and de-boarding downtown had a very metropolitan feel. Still, MetroRail would mean a lifestyle change. Was I ready to commit to becoming a commuter?

Continue reading “Tales from a MetroRail rider”

Time to dust off the bike!

May is National Bike Month, and while I’m personally 12 days late to the party, Austin’s active, engaged citizenry on two wheels has Bike Month 2010 in motion. There’s a month-full of bicycling opportunities for every level of cyclist (or non cyclist). Check out the bike page on the city’s Web site for some general info about it.

Hopefully you’re already logging your trips in the Austin Commuter Challenge, which is conveniently in May, too, and rewards you with prizes for your pedaling dedication.

Me? Well, I’m not quite up for the month-long challenge. I’m a beginner, or as I read recently, a member of the non-spandex wearing crowd. But, Bike Month has something for everyone, and even scaredy cats like me can get active, do something for the environment, and see Austin from a delightfully different perspective: on a bike. (And remember, you can always combine your bike trip with a bus or train ride via Capital Metro.)

Here’s my game plan for Bike Month 2010. If you know of other events, freebies, resources, please let me know!

Step One: Tune-up the bike.
This Friday a bike mechanic will be at One Texas Center at 505 Barton Springs Road to give free bike tune-ups, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. I think my bike needs some WD-40. 🙂  Check out the calendar on the city’s bike page.

Continue reading “Time to dust off the bike!”