Parking The Car: A New Years Resolution

Jan 18, 2011 15 Comments by

Over the past several months I’ve been inspired by all the bicycle activity in the Cliff, and in particular with the idea of driving less and using a bike and public transit more. So when it came time for making a few resolutions for the new year, I decided that I’d like to leave my car in the driveway 3 days during the work week and use alternative means of transportation.

This would be a relatively easy resolution if I worked downtown, but I work in Addison which means my office is 15.6 miles from my house. So after putting this off for a few weeks (I blame the extreme cold and rain the first few weeks of the year) I decided today would be my first attempt at using a combination of a bike and a bus to get to the office. Here’s a few observations from my first morning.

8:40am: Ready to ride. According to Google Maps it’s 2.9 miles to the West Transfer Station at the corner of Lamar and San Jacinto.

8:50am: On the Jefferson Viaduct bridge into downtown. What happened to yesterday’s forecast of sun today? And clearly the right lane is not the safest for a bike on this bridge as you have two on-ramps entering on the right. It’s a little crazy.

8:52am: At the top of the bridge I can smell something good cooking. Wonder if it’s the tacos from Fuel City or the BBQ at Hickory House? I sure could go for a Fuel City taco.

9:00am: Arrived at the West Transfer Station. Can someone please tell me why they still have Christmas music playing? Is this a DART issue? I’m going to have to look into this. And why can’t I buy a day, week or monthly pass at the West Transfer Station? They have two DART employees answering questions, but no automated ticket machines.

9:05am: The 183 Express has arrived and will take me straight up the Dallas North Tollway. I’m the first bike on the rack and the instructions printed on the rack are easy enough to follow. Really hope my bike doesn’t fall off on the tollway.

9:10am: Realized that I’m sweating. A lot. It was only a 3.9 mile ride and it’s 50 degrees… I shouldn’t be sweating. Clearly I have to learn proper layering for this sort of activity. Still keeping my eyes on the front of the bus to make sure my bike hasn’t fallen off.

9:31am: The bus arrives at the Galleria. I get off and get my bike. According to Google Maps it’s a 1.4 mile ride up Inwood Road to my office. Should be easy.

9:35am: This would be easy if it wasn’t for the 20 mile per hour headwind. Ugh.

9:43am: Arrive at my office.

So for my first attempt I think it went great. I feel a sense of accomplishment and have a few ideas for how I will improve my time and my experience. Now I just have to hope it doesn’t start raining for my evening commute tonight!

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About the author

Rob has lived in North Oak Cliff for 7 years and has eaten at nearly every taco stand in the area during that time. He also was a founder of CliffDweller Magazine and has served on the boards of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Theatre.

15 Responses to “Parking The Car: A New Years Resolution”

  1. Katherene Hough says:

    Love that you’re taking this on, Rob! I have a friend (also named Rob) who has been taking the DART – from Plano to downtown – to work for a while now, and keeps a blog about his experiences. You might find it interesting:
    http://robstrainofthought.blogspot.com/

  2. FabFranTX says:

    Great job! Only an hour – pretty good timing.

  3. JW Tarin says:

    Awesome! I began taking DART again after the first of the year, and I love it! 2 trains & 2 buses (for now, until the Orange Line goes all the way out to Las Colinas), and it only takes an hour and a half each way – time which I am happy to spend napping or reading, rather than sitting in traffic, putting miles & wear on the car, and using ever-more expensive gas.

    I haven’t biked yet though, b/c I don’t think it would be worth it for me. It’s only about 7 blocks to Cedars Station for me, and in the afternoon about 5 blocks from my office to the bus stop.

    As for tickets, yeah…it’s an issue right now. DART.org will tell you which machines offer the extended passes – they have to be the TVM Type B, which (right now) are only at selected locations. FYI, they have them at West End Station, across from the West Transfer Center. I buy 7 day passes there. Hope that helps!

  4. Tracie D says:

    I love this!! Im looking for a place in the OC now, work in Addison, too, and had thought about researching the bus system!

  5. JF says:

    I swear I’m not trying to be a downer here, just a few questions that I’d be curious about as you continue this project:

    1) How did you deal with the sweat? What will you do when it gets warmer and no amount of layering will prevent sweating? To me this seems like a bigger problem than safety issues.

    2) Do you have a monthly DART pass? Or do you think you’ll just keep buying day passes for the times you use it?

    3) Are there some specific tasks that you can accomplish while riding the bus? What I’m getting at is whether you’re “losing” time by having a 60 minute commute vs 20-25 minute commute. If you can accomplish something on the bus that you’d otherwise do at home, then you’ve lost less time. Also, if the biking provides you with enough exercise that you could skip a morning workout, then you haven’t specifically lost time.

  6. dave holt says:

    Good for you. I’ve been biking to work several days a week this year, but work downtown. You’ve found my personal least favorite part of the commute on your first try- getting across the river. I’m doing it, but I always feel a little like I’m taking my life in my hands. Going to the bike plan meeting on Thursday specifically to talk about the bridge crossing.

  7. robshearer says:

    Interesting questions, @JF.

    Not sure how I’ll deal with the sweat. I may pack clothes for work and then change when I arrive… but my office doesn’t have any sort of locker room facility so this will only help so much.

    I don’t have a DART Pass, yet, and I’m not sure that I’ll need it. Looks like at $1.75 each way I really can’t justify a weekly or monthly pass. I would need to ride more often or incorporate mass transit into other parts of my life. Weekly pass is $20 and I’ll be at $17.50 if I do this every day of the week… which also isn’t going to happen. So for now I’ll just pay my $1.75 each way.

    Finally – I love your question about what I’ll do with the time. I’m hoping to read more… which interestingly I didn’t notice any other riders reading this morning. (Bus was almost completely full.) I don’t think this will completely replace my current exercise routine, but it may help – especially if I can ride all the way home in nicer weather (and skip the bus completely).

    It will be an ongoing experiment… but I’ll keep you posted!

  8. Amy says:

    I bet I know someone else who’s really glad your bike didn’t fall off the bus. :) Bravo! I’m impressed. I work 1.2 miles from home, and my car is outside… this is due to the weather this morning, of course. Not remotely due to me being lazy.

  9. What Pigs Don't Know says:

    Thanks for this Rob – I need some inspiration to get my butt on the bike – and I only have 5 miles to go – not 14. I am just so car-wary when I’m biking – well, more like driver-wary. I don’t trust anyone, and it makes me so hesitant to try and bike. But I do know that I need to. -Carrie

  10. Andrea Roberts says:

    As far as the bridge crossing, I also hate the Jefferson Viaduct. One thing we’ve done before is ride on the sidewalk across the Houston viaduct. You face oncoming traffic which feels strange, but at least you’re separated from them (until the end of the bridge). I still think it’s safer than suddenly being in the middle lane while cars are merging on though!

  11. James says:

    Rob, I’m impressed and slightly jealous. I’ve intended to begin my commute from Oak Cliff to Farmer’s Branch by bike and train since the green line opened in December, but have used every excuse I can find to not try it yet. Maybe I’m just afraid my co-workers will laugh at my bike helmet (it doesn’t match my bike) or my profuse sweating. Maybe I was just waiting for inspiration. Kudos to you for providing that!

  12. Kevin says:

    @JW Tarin – What route are you taking from Oak Cliff to Las Colinas? I have been searching for a way to use DART for my commute and can’t find any options under 2 1/2 hours one way.

  13. dave holt says:

    Andrea- That’s how I go across as well. It’s pretty far from ideal, but it’s definitely the least dangerous way. Everyone should know, however, that you still have to cross the Houston bridge at some point in order to be able to connect by the abandoned parking garage to the Jefferson side to get into downtown. There’s really no way to ride into downtown going the wrong way on the Houston side, so you have to wait for I35 HOV traffic AND the regular viaduct traffic to clear in order to make your left and haul arse into downtown. It’s not nearly as bad as I’m making it sound, but it could be SO much better.

  14. On The Road Again says:

    [...] running commentary on public transportation and commuting, but we got lots of great comments on the post from yesterday and I thought I’d give you a few more thoughts on day 2 of DART/ bike [...]

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