Bike-to-Train Beats Car

By Will Reisman, @WillReisman

It’s a true rarity when everything goes according to plan, but Thursday’s Bike to Work Day followed the script completely for the public affairs team at Caltrain. Well, almost completely.

After touting the benefits of transit and cycling for the last several days, Caltrain backed up its big talk with a resounding victory in its first annual competition pitting the public transportation network versus the automobile. Public affairs specialist Will Reisman and public information officer Christine Dunn departed from the same exact spot in San Francisco at the same exact time on Thursday. Reisman, using a combination of his bicycle and Caltrain, was able to best Dunn, who travelled in her car for the trip.

The duo started at 7:30 a.m. at Hyde and Geary streets in San Francisco, next to Reisman’s studio apartment. Reisman was able to navigate the city easily on his bike, arriving at the San Francisco Caltrain Station on Fourth and King streets at 7:38, six minutes before the #220 train was scheduled to leave.

Based on the crowded scene at the San Francisco station, Reisman clearly wasn’t the only commuter participating in the 20th anniversary of Bike to Work Day on Thursday. After the initial spasm of fear that he would get bumped from the train passed, Reisman was amazed to see how smoothly things went during the very busy boarding process. Biking vets were quick to assist and educate cycling novices on the proper storage etiquette for the Caltrain bike car, and, despite lengthy lines to board the train, the #220 train departed on time, at exactly 7:44 a.m.

Almost down to the second, the #220 stayed on schedule throughout all of its stops, picking up throngs of commuting cyclists on the way. By the time that the train had departed San Mateo station, Reisman assumed that he was well on his way to victory, although that’s when he received a call from Dunn, alerting him that she was near Ralston Avenue, only a few miles from the San Carlos office headquarters.

Despite a few nail-biting moments in the end, Reisman was able to arrive at his work desk by 8:19 a.m., a healthy eight minutes in front of Dunn. Caltrain proved victorious, even though Dunn claimed that Thursday was a “light traffic day” on Highway 101. Throughout the commute, Reisman kept a live recount of the competition from his Twitter feed here.

Of course, as alluded to in the opening paragraph, the day didn’t go off without a few minor hiccups. Originally, Reisman was supposed to record his bike ride on a fancy GoPro camera affixed to his handlebars. He did just that on Wednesday, perfectly executing a trial run to test out the equipment. On Thursday, due to a combination of equipment malfunction and user error (okay, it was 100 percent user error—Reisman let the GoPro battery die), the actual trip on Bike to Work Day wasn’t recorded. However, the footage from Wednesday, which captured the exact same route as the one Reisman took on Thursday, is available for viewing with this blog post.

Hope everyone had a nice Bike to Work Day and can watch the GoPro footage without feeling a little sea sick. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Bike-to-Train Beats Car

  1. Getting bumped during the morning commute can ruin your whole day, especially for people with fixed schedules like students or low-wage employees. Is there any way to ease up on that rule, especially at stations that only get 1 or 2 trains per hour? I know the next farther station gets more trains so being bumped isn’t as disastrous there. However, that’s an extra 30 minute bike ride from home, so asking people to do that every day isn’t very encouraging.

    • Word. Happens to me all the time and it sucks. Plus you can’t leave your bike at stations like Palo Alto, 22nd St., etc. without having them get messed with or stolen because theft and vandalism are rampant yet the police don’t care whatsoever. This is why I drive to 22nd St., but now they’re trying to meter the spots there. They’re really doing all they can to force more cars onto the already packed freeway by preventing there from being other viable options.

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