Regular readers of the blog may have noticed the recent addition of a pair of folding bikes to our stable. Our transportation needs, as well as our future plans, have been evolving, and as a result we’re making a few adjustments.
As we’ve become more involved with the bicycling community in the larger surrounding area, we’ve had a need to transport our bikes more frequently. When we can, we either ride or take the train to various events, but often times the distances are too great or the transit schedules simply don’t work. In these cases, we’ve had to resort to renting or borrowing a truck, or simply skipping the event (we’re not fond of vehicle bike racks, but I’d rather not go into that here). Now, with a pair of folding bikes, we can either drop them in the back of our little car and drive to the event, or take them on the bus when the train schedule doesn’t work (not all of our buses have bike racks).
As our family is growing up and heading off to college, we have mid-term plans to downsize fairly dramatically. When that happens, storage will become even more of a premium than it is now. Because of the work we do here at the blog, we often have at least one or two extra bikes around that we’re evaluating or photographing, so it only makes sense to keep the physical footprint of our personal quiver to a minimum, something the folders help with immensely (see above). This doesn’t mean we’ll replace our everyday, full-sized rides with folders, but it does mean we’ll have a mix of bikes that have less overlap and more completely cover our range of needs as we continue to do less driving and move toward a 100% car-free lifestyle.
We also hope to do some multi-modal touring in the future. We love trains, and nothing goes together better than a tiny folding bike and a passenger train. Bromptons are one of the select few bikes that will fit between the seat backs on passenger trains, which makes them packable on almost any train in the country. We envision a day when we take a trip across the country, partially on trains, partially on bikes, stopping along the way to do some bike touring in interesting towns, then getting back on the train to move to the next interesting town for another day or two of exploring. We can’t think of a better way to see the country (for us).
Some people will say owning 4-6 bikes to share among 2-3 people is extravagant. From our perspective, what is extravagant is the fact that 70% of Americans drive to work in cars, and that as a country we own 1.17 motor vehicles per licensed driver at an average cost of $9,641 per year, excluding loan payments (according to figures from the AAA). In this context, owning a few specialized bikes to help reduce your automobile use appears to be a great investment.
People who live in urban areas just a few blocks from their work and essential services have completely different needs than those who live in suburban or rural areas. Physical terrain such as hills, and weather considerations such as snow and rain, also factor into the equation. The goal is to figure out how best to utilize bicycles as car replacements in your life. This could mean anything from a simple one-speed crusier, to a garage full of specialized machines, and it could mean making a few adjustments as your transportaton needs evolve over time.