Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A New Commute and A New Hat

I've been away for a bit, with a business trip to New York, and with the weather and lack of proper scooting I felt I didn't have much to write about. But it's good to be back in the blog saddle!

With the new year, I made a couple of changes in my commute. I used to carpool, but with my schedule (and laziness) I often wouldn't make the carpool and ended up driving into town. At $16 per day to park that was adding up pretty quick, not to mention the gas and wear and tear on the car. So, starting in January I started to take the bus. With a company-subsidized bus pass costing only $45 per month, plus the chance to walk from the bus stop to the office and back, it not only made financial sense, but also health sense and environment sense as well.

Today, I tried biking into the office. If you know where I live, it would be a pretty large task to commute all the way into Seattle (about 35 miles), but the buses here have bike racks so I can bus into town, and ride a short distance to the office.

My vehicle for this commute is a Giant LaFree hybrid electric bike, which I got for a great price off Craigslist as a personal Christmas present. It has 7 speeds, with an electric motor that gives you a little boost when needed. Some of you might think, "that's a ladies bike" - I prefer to call it a "European step-through" - as you can tell, I am struggling with my own masculine pre-conceived notions on bike design here.

It's a fun ride, and I took the opportunity to run some errands during lunch. I had to get one of my hats reshaped (I found it under some stuff in my car, so it was pretty crushed). In Seattle, the last remaining hat shop is Byrnie Utz. I remember going there with my Dad, and I am continuing the family tradition. If you need a hat, Byrnie Utz is the place. I ended up not only getting my hat reshaped, I got a new one as well!

Unfortunately, the bike commute home wasn't very successful. The bus drivers on the return trip didn't want me to load my bike since it is longer than a standard bike due to the electric motor and therefore didn't fit well in the bike rack, plus they thought it was too heavy for the bike rack (it is pretty heavy at 79 lbs). Apparently, the driver coming into town didn't have these concerns, and my bike made it into town fine. Fortunately, my office building has bike lockers, so I was able to store my bike and ride the bus home without it.


Conchscooter said...

I've seen a couple of those light assist bikes in Key West.I hate how bus drivers and transit districts fight to make riding the bus as inconvenient as possible. Bikes racks were so popular in the Lower Keys they discontinued them altogether on the grounds some people wouldn't be able to fit their bikes on the bus when it was full.

Doug C said...

Kudos to you for using pedal power and public transportation. I have to travel 30 miles before I get to the first bus stop on my commute.

Baron's Life said...

Welcome back Lance. Hope you had a good trip to NY.
That's a beautiful new machine you got there. Too bad you couldn't get it on the bus on the trip back home.
I am assembling a 49cc Gas powered engine on one of my bicycles and should have it ready in a couple of weeks. Her maiden voyage is going to be from Delta BC to Seattle WA.
What are the rules in WA for electric bikes or for 49cc gas engines. Do you require a license and insurance to put them on the road?
Beautiful pictures you took there.

Lance said...

Conch - I agree - I like the idea of public transportation, but frankly the system in Seattle is very lacking. The buses are often standing room only, and the different fare schedules of the 3+ providers here makes no sense. It's not one seamless system here, it's several systems, all with different fares, areas, etc.

Doug - thanks. I need to get in better shape, so I am hopeful some pedal power will help. If I had to pedal 30 miles, however, I would be doing serious damage!

Baron - Sounds like a great project! My mopeds are 49cc, and one doesn't need a motorcycle endt to ride them here (49cc is the cut-off), and insurance is not a requirement (WA State does have a financial responsibility law, however, so if a motorcyclist/mopedist is liable, they have to post a bond for their potential liability). Let me know when you make it into Seattle - I would love to see you and the bike and take you out to lunch!

Unknown said...


do you every get up to Bellingham ? There is a very active scooter group there (Scootersofbellingham) aka: SOB's and we go down often. They also organize a large scooter rally Hamster Run, last year it was late July. I have videos on my YouTube channel. Hope to meet up with you soon too.

Baron's Life said...

Thanks Lance. That's very kind of you. I will take you up o that. I will start posting pictures and project progress this you will be kept informed.
Hope you got your moped back home...How did you do it. Were able to get it back on the bus rack again or did you have to drag it home?

irondad said...

"Ladies" bike or not, if you ever hit a pot hole with the front wheel, you'll appreciate the lack of cross bar there!

Lance said...

Bobskoot - thanks for the invite to Bellingham. I do get up there, so I will let you know when I do - would love to meet some SOB's!

Baron - looking forward to seeing your project! I ended up needing to drive in on Friday, so I was able to pick up the bike and bring it home.

Irondad - Couldn't agree with you more! Other than for strength, I always wondered why mens bikes had the top tube for that very reason.

Heinz N Frenchie said...

Not too familiar with the frequency of your buses, but maybe you could have waited for the next bus and hoped the driver was not so picky. 79 pounds is kinda heavy. Don't you have to lift it up to put it on the racks? The bike racks here are on the front of the buses and we have seen people lift them up to install them. Enjoy your new hat!