Tuesday, August 5, 2008

When you miss a bus

This morning, I was late for my bus to downtown. The next one would be 20 minutes later, so I decided to bike there instead. Downtown, I barely missed my connection to Tukwila. I decided to bike there, too.

My commute ended up taking almost twice as long as it would have if I'd caught my  buses, and more than three times as long as it would have if I'd driven. I'll tell you what, though ... there were a ton of other people bicycling this morning, the most I've ever seen on a day that wasn't a Bike To Work Day.

I must've missed my return bus from Tukwila to downtown, too, as I waited more than 10 minutes for it to arrive. I decided to wait for the next bus this time, as I'd been a little tired after 20+ miles of biking this morning, and I knew I would almost certainly have 7-8 more miles to bike between downtown and my house later. I also have a big ride coming up this weekend that I don't want to go into tired.

Next month there'll be a transportation conference in Ithaca, NY, home of Cornell University. It'll be all about Podcars (Personal Rapid Transit). I look forward to a time when U.S. policymakers start following the lead of their European counterparts and begin building truly sustainable public transit that you won't have to wait for, much less wait 15, 20, or even 30 minutes for. And it'll carry many many more bikes than buses or trains can on longer trips like my bike commute!

Two interesting encounters with motor vehicles to report on the way home. Coming northbound across the Fremont Bridge while I was in the right lane (the one with the sharrows) some [person] in a black Jetta came squirting past as we neared N 34th Street and cut me off so he could turn right in front of me. His girlfriend (I assume they weren't married) looked over at me as he did so, I figure because she was concerned that maybe he wasn't doing such a smart thing. I frowned and shook my head, which is about as demonstrative as I get on a bike. Then, further north on Greenwood Avenue, a bus driver did something I've never seen before: I find that on slight/moderate uphills I sometimes travel at roughly the same average speed as local buses. The buses hop from one stop to another while I slog away at a constant pace, but if we start at the same time the bus and I will leapfrog each other. Well, this afternoon I passed a bus that was pulled over at N 73rd Street, but instead of racing past and pulling over in front of me, which is what every other bus driver has done in a similar situation, in my experience, the driver slowed down as s/he approached the next stop and let me continue through it ahead of him/her. I gave a little wave to acknowledge the courtesy, as I try to do every time I see a driver do something nice for a bicyclist, and of course as this was on a level stretch of road where I generally average a higher speed than local buses, I didn't see that  bus again. Regardless, northbound #5 driver at about 7:00 PM on August 4th, you rock.

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