how did I get here?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 | transportation

I’m working from home today. It’s blowing snow all over a nasty sheet of ice that formed last night from freezing rain and snowmelt. I generally don’t fall on my bike, but bailed a few times last night as I rode home from a meeting of concerned neighbors opposing the county jail. I love riding bikes. Even in wet, cold weather. I haven’t done so much biking, lately though. I’ve been pretty into the local bus system.

Every half hour, buses leave downtown Eau Claire to cruise through a neighborhood or two each. Then they come right back, every half hour (some longer). It makes it so I can catch a bus heading right downtown 2 blocks from my house. Once downtown, I can go anywhere in the city by stepping on the right bus. Often I’m where I want to be in less than a half an hour.

Olive gets to school many mornings this way. We catch the bus at 8:05 and she’s at school by 8:30. Longer than it takes on bike or in a car, but I can read to her, chat, or zone out and relax. Once at school, I or the bus chaperone follows the kids to school to make sure everyone made it. There are several students in the neighborhood who choose to get to school this way. Their parents have organized an informal bus pool, where one parent is scheduled to ride along each morning and afternoon. So sometimes we just go to the stop a few blocks away to send off or greet Olive.

A bus pass for a kid, all semester, is $40. I get a pass because I serve on the Transit Commission and have an obligation to ride and analyze the local bus system. Jen can get a free pass through work each month, and Sy rides free until he’s 5 or in school. So our family cost to access this system is only $40 every few months. That much money won’t even fill up our gas tank, so it’s a pretty good deal, as long as we use it (and also reduce car use as well).

So that’s how I’m rolling, these days. You’ll often find me sprinting, or checking my watch and cursing, because I’m always missing the bus. Or, like last week, when I went to my stop early, waited for five minutes, assumed I missed it, and after I walked halfway back home, the bus went whizzing by. My bike never does that, it just waits until I’m ready.

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