How to quickly travel one mile?
May 19, 2006 2:58 PM   Subscribe

What is the fastest way to micro-commute one mile to the bus stop? The bus may not have space for bikes. I'd like to spend under $200 inclusive of protective gear/clothing.

I am moving closer to work, and replacing my 40 minute car ride with a 20 minute bus trip. Unfortunately, the bus stop is far enough away that I could easily wind up back at 40 minutes again if I walk. I need a fast, self-powered way to glide to that bus stop in rain or shine. I'm looking into inline skates, Razor-style scooters or even a skateboard,. I want speed, efficiency and comfort in a package that is bus-friendly. What mode of transportation am I forgetting?
posted by hammurderer to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Flat? Not flat?
posted by metaculpa at 3:03 PM on May 19, 2006

If you look at your walk as part of your fitness regime, you aren't really losing the time and it's the most stress-free way of covering the distance. But if you insist on technological augmentation, we'll need to know if there's a lot of cross-traffic and intersections to deal with, and whether there are any hills and if you have a sidewalk to walk on.
posted by cardboard at 3:10 PM on May 19, 2006

I can't think of any modes you're forgetting. Sounds like skateboarding might be your best option, as it requires the least amount of set-up in order to use.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:10 PM on May 19, 2006

Get a used, non-flashy, cheap bicycle and a good lock. Lock it up at the bus stop and ride it home afterwards.

You don't need a high-end bike for 1 mile per day. Even a one-speed beater bike will carry you one mile in about 3 minutes.

Put big old fenders (for rain) and a basket on it. Make it look like crap and no one will steal it.
posted by evoo at 3:12 PM on May 19, 2006

Looks like you live in SF - I am thinking you need to rethink walking as your primary option. Any wet day and wheels are going to be messy to you and your clothes. Alternatively, maybe there is a bus you can take to the bus?

I used to take the bus over the GG Bridge and would ride my bike to the bus stop. I don't think there was ever a time when both bike slots were taken on the way out. But maybe there is a good place to lock up a bike all day by the bus stop? Get a real beater and just use it to go home to bus stop and bus stop to home?
posted by mzurer at 3:15 PM on May 19, 2006

Hummmm.. Well, is there a reason why you couldn't just lock the bike up at the bus stop? If you're worried about theft, you could buy a cheap, used bike, scruff it up with duct tape and whatnot and use a good U-lock. Rain gear doesn't have to be too expensive. I got my rain pants during a sale and a harbormaster style jacket at the army-navy surplus store for less than $40.00 for the set. A helmet and lights is another $40, but you would need safety gear no matter what. (On Preview, what everyone else said...)

Or, you could get a Runt mini-bicycle. The Consumer Product Safety Commission doesn't like them, but apparently not for any particular reason or injuries. Psh...
posted by Skwirl at 3:24 PM on May 19, 2006

What mode of transportation am I forgetting?
Oh, oh, I got one: Unicycle.
posted by Skwirl at 3:29 PM on May 19, 2006

Longboard. Much nicer than skateboards for transportation, much less stigma, & you can still carry them on the bus/into your office.
posted by devilsbrigade at 3:34 PM on May 19, 2006

Have you considered just biking to work? If the bus is going to be stop & go in traffic, it might be almost as fast to skip the bus entirely.
posted by desuetude at 3:40 PM on May 19, 2006

You can walk a mile in 10 or 15 minutes easy. I'd just walk, the bike will be more hassle than it's worth.
posted by fshgrl at 4:15 PM on May 19, 2006

Electric scooter
posted by zaebiz at 4:25 PM on May 19, 2006

Second skateboarding on longboard. One that's long enough to give a smooth ride but short enough to not get in the way on a bus/at work, maybe something like this.
posted by togdon at 4:27 PM on May 19, 2006

fshgrl, walking a mile in 10 minutes means walking 6 MPH, which is quite fast; average brisk (i.e., not window-shopping) walking speed for men tends to be around 3.5 MPH, and for women it tends to be 3 MPH.

I second getting a cheap, reliable bike and locking it at the stop.
posted by delfuego at 4:32 PM on May 19, 2006

Have you considered a folding bike? You can just fold it up and walk on the bus with it!

Downtube bikes are supposed to be great according to those who know. Dahons are supposedly better-quality but cost a bit more for the same features. Walmart has a cheapy one that would probably work ok if you're just going a mile.
posted by aceyprime at 4:34 PM on May 19, 2006

I'm with desuetude: you should just bike all the way to work. In urban areas during rush hour, a bicycle is usually the fastest mode of transportation for distances under 5 miles, and certainly the most predictable. No waiting for the bus not knowing when it'll arrive -- you just hop on your bike and go. No stopping for traffic, just go between the cars (carefully, of course).

I live 3 miles from work. It takes 10 minutes for me to walk to the bus stop. Another 20 minutes to get to work on weekdays if the bus picks me up immediately and makes all the usual stops -- more if I have to wait for the bus. Then another 5 minutes walk to my office. Minimum 30 minutes all told. By bike it is 10 minutes door-to-door, plus another 5 minutes to lock my bike and get changed.
posted by randomstriker at 4:48 PM on May 19, 2006

Another vote for just doing your whole commute on bike. Muni sucks anyways. I bike every day across SF, and I wouldnt have it any other way. It's fun, cheap, and a great way to get around. I dont think I've been in a car more than 3 times in the last 2 months.
posted by atom128 at 5:15 PM on May 19, 2006

Response by poster: Flat? Not flat?

Rats, that somehow worked its way out during the preview process. It's very flat and paved. There is no snow since it's in the San Francisco Bay Area (Redwood Shores).

I could bike, but it's about 7 miles with a middle stretch down an extremely busy industrial road. The bus is actually an express that takes the highway and makes one stop between me and work (Menlo Park, near the Dumbarton bridge).

I probably should reconsider biking all the way.
posted by hammurderer at 5:18 PM on May 19, 2006

Used rollerblades you can you can toss into an old backpack. Wear loafers to speed the change. My wife found a great pair of rollerblades at Value Village for 6 bucks,
posted by codswallop at 6:47 PM on May 19, 2006

Dang it. That was supposed to end with a period.
posted by codswallop at 6:47 PM on May 19, 2006

Instead of roller blades see if you can find some old fashioned roller skates. The kind with four wheels and leather strap thingies that you buckle on over your shoes. They'll take up a lot less space in your bag and will be quick to take off since your shoes are underneath (useful if you get there at the same time as the bus). For one mile over a flat paved surface they'll work fine.

I have no clue if these things are even available anywhere sadly, but I loved mine when I was a child.
posted by shelleycat at 8:18 PM on May 19, 2006

I dunno, it takes 10-15 minutes to walk a mile on flat land sans snow, and it takes 5 minutes to bike it .. and another 5 minutes to get your gear on, and another 5 to lock it up, and another 20 to shower if you sweat a ton, and maybe 5 more to get grease off your pants, and a few hours the next time it's stolen, etc. Diminishing returns.

posted by kcm at 8:33 PM on May 19, 2006

posted by delmoi at 10:29 PM on May 19, 2006

If you're considering a folding bike, I wouldn't recommend it. I have a cheap folding bike (A $300 Dahon) and it doesn't fold up nearly small enough to be polite/acceptable on a rush hour bus. I think some of the pricey ones do, but my Dahon is already out of your price range.

I'm another vote for old, cheap beach cruiser bike. No special clothes needed, since it will have a chainguard and fenders, you'll get there in 5-6 minutes, and no one is going to steal it, I promise. Where I work we refurbish and sell used bikes, and we sell these running in great shape for $50 - you can probably do cheaper, since you won't need it to run like new.
posted by pinespree at 10:34 PM on May 19, 2006

nevermind everything i said, delmoi's idea is better.
posted by pinespree at 10:35 PM on May 19, 2006

Why not splash out and get some velocity stilts?
posted by booksprite at 12:07 AM on May 20, 2006

it's in the San Francisco Bay Area (Redwood Shores)

makes one stop between me and work (Menlo Park, near the Dumbarton bridge)

wait, is work at redwood shores or in menlo? i seem to remember a bike path that goes north along the bay starting at (or maybe south of) bayshore park, which is where marsh road ends. if i remember right it ends around seaport blvd, right around where the busy industrial road (reasonably enough called "industrial road" or something) you speak of starts. i've ridden on that on my bike and it's really not so bad. plenty of shoulder, you just have to ride near sucky industrial traffic.

the bus you're talking about is probably the samtrans REX route right? i'm not sure but i think all the samtrans buses are supposed to have bike racks on the front.

we might be able to suggest a route if you're considering biking the whole way. where do you live?
posted by sergeant sandwich at 1:38 AM on May 20, 2006

Best answer: xootr?
posted by shoepal at 2:04 AM on May 20, 2006

How about something like the old-style roller skates that strap on to your shoes?

The only link I could find.
posted by sophist at 3:41 AM on May 20, 2006

I'll second your razor scooter idea... they're about $30 around here, and you'll move /at least/ 2x as fast as walking.

Plus, they fold up, and you can get a shoulder strap for 'em.

Methinks it would be tough to beat the bang-for-the-buck.

I hear there are 'adult sized' models for a little extra $$$, but I haven't ever seen one in a store. Check out their website, I guess.
posted by Wild_Eep at 5:57 AM on May 20, 2006

psst, Wild_Eep, regarding those adult size models... xootr.
posted by shoepal at 7:55 PM on May 20, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice! I tried out a Xootr MG and several longboards today (at Skates on Haight, where nobody laughed at my wobbly skate technique). Although it maxes out my budget, I'm going with the Xootr. If this thread is still open for posting, maybe I'll write a comment about how things work out.
posted by hammurderer at 9:26 PM on May 20, 2006

Response by poster: Ok, it's been about three weeks since I started the Xootr/bus commute. I cover the 1 mile to the bus stop in around 8-12 minutes, and the scooter is a really fun ride. The only drawbacks are:

1) there's a (slow) limit on the speed at which the scooter will glide well. Faster than that, and the amount of kicking required to sustain your speed rises sharply.

2) unless the pavement is incredibly smooth, the ride is bumpy and jarring, and gliding doesn't work very well.

I'm now searching for a bike, and looking into the possibility of riding the 7-10 miles to work.
posted by hammurderer at 11:46 PM on July 7, 2006

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