Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A New Experience: Combining Biking and Light Rail

Doug hangs his bike for extra space
Between cities at the moment, Bob and I are staying over with my cousin Angie and her family before heading out to San Francisco for a long weekend. When we last checked in with my cousin, she and her husband had each purchased good quality, gently used bikes and were in the process of building a small bike garage on the side of their Phoenix ranch house. Without the standard garage for their car, we were pretty impressed that these parents of a toddler were so committed to options outside of strict car-ridership that they decided on the small addition of a bike garage.  Well, the little garage is now finished and sheltering both bikes quite nicely.  Might seem impractical for non-cyclists but I think SRAB readers can fully appreciate what a great amenity a bike garage is.

The Townie has a space of its very own.
Since her bike purchase, Angie has kept her older cousin fully informed of her bike commuting activities and is always open to suggestions on how to expand her comfort zone just a little bit further.  Last Thursday, Angie had planned a trip to her massage therapist and decided to pedal her Townie to the Metro Phoenix Light Rail station near her house, haul her bike and board and take the rail for the rest of her trip. This would be Angie’s first trip with her bike on the light rail and she was slightly nervous about what to expect. Since we don’t have a light rail system in either Louisville or Flagstaff, I haven’t yet had the pleasure so my parting thoughts were that the trip was only about 3 blocks, most by bike lane, and that it would be an easy practice run for more complicated trips.

Bikes are welcome.
Upon arriving at the rail station with only a few seconds to spare, Angie sent me a text reporting that a nice fellow had helped her hang her Townie on the bike hooks in the train. Many people are reluctant to ride public transit, be it bus or rail, because they anticipate problems but they shouldn’t let it stop them from giving it a try. I expect to have a little trouble hanging my bike as well when I have my first light rail trip with it because I’m short and lifting my bike can feel awkward.  For the most part though, I’ve found that experienced public transit riders are usually happy to show newbies the ropes and offer assistance.  In fact, when Angie returned she said that she received three good natured remarks about the size of her bike, three compliments on it appearance, and two offers of assistance with hanging it.

Pure glamour!
On a side note, Angie mentioned that she was surprised to see how crowded the stops and rail cars were both before and after her visit with the massage therapist.  I wonder if is more a result of the spike in gas prices or people simply leaving their cars at home to enjoy the nice weather?  Regardless, I hope Metro Light Rail gained some new ridership that day.  I know my cousin will definitely combine her Townie with light rail trips for future trips around town.