June 29th, 2009

It is not uncommon to come into contact with individuals who purport a desire to adopt the bicycle as an alternative mode of transportation. Reasons include a desire to save money, stay fit, experience the freedom they recall from their youth and others. Invariably, the next comment to emerge from their lips is one or another excuse as to why doing so will not work for them. Besides the tired complaints regarding a lack of bike lanes or that it is too dangerous to consider in <<insert North Texas community here>>, the most common alibi is that they live too far from work.

There are a wide variety of reasons people choose to locate their families far from their place of work. I am not passing judgment one way or another, as I, too, live in a suburb and work in the city. Criticism of those who use this as an excuse, however, is not off-limits. I don’t and regularly travel a distance of around 30km, each way. For adjacent communities, those which border on either Dallas or Fort Worth, distance is not an impediment to bicycle commuting. Even those who live further afield have options; solutions only require a bit of imagination.

An obvious choice is mass transit. Both DART and The T have policies and procedures for accommodating those interested in multi-modal conveyance by bike. Local busses have racks, suburban expresses have cargo compartments and trains have either designated areas for bicycles or allow them onboard with reason and courtesy as guidance.

Live even further out?

Bus and rail service is limited in its radius. Nevertheless, there are numerous Park & Ride locations throughout the Metroplex (Dallas, Fort Worth). By taking advantage of these resources, one can drive to one of these connection points and board a bus or train in order to get closer to a destination. This is an excellent resource not only for those who are new to bicycle commuting and unsure of ability, but can also serve as an alternative if mechanical or weather concerns thwart other options for local commuters. Many employers offer discount annual passes to their employees. For the cost of only a few weeks fare, one can ride almost anywhere in North Texas for a year.

Living more than a few miles from work is really not a valid excuse for failing to adopt the bicycle as a means of transportation. Whether one is riding to the bus stop and taking a bus or train to a destination; driving to a transit station, riding a bus or train closer to work and cycling the rest of the way; or employing any combination thereof – all can be combined to allow fulfillment of a goal to enjoy the freedom and pleasures of commuting by bike. Experimentation is the key; desire and imagination are the only limitations.

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