That title sounds rather philosophical, but I mean it literally.
Within the next few months, we've got:
YP Bus Challenge
This one started Saturday, April 18, where it was to be kicked off at Earth Day Omaha event, but the threat of bad weather has postponed the Earth Day celebrations until Saturday, April 25.
The idea behind the YP Bus Challenge is to get the 40 and under set up to speed on how to utilize Omaha's Metropolitan Area Transit (the bus). Teams will log rides for three weeks, and the three teams with the highest average number of trips taken will win prizes. The participants will also provide valuable feedback on their experiences to help makes the transit system more relevant and efficient. Three weeks may also be enough time to change people's habits so they stick and folks might be more likely to ride the bus in the future.
I formed a team called The UP Hi-Railers. The idea was to stack the team with daily bus riders, of which UP has many. I had no problem finding four of them. I, being only a one trip per week rider, felt the challenge. Not wanting to be a weak team member, I bought a 30 day unlimited ride ticket and have committed to at least two trips per day. I can't completely give up the bike commuting, so I have some ideas on how to keep it interesting.
Here are some ways to log rides on the bus, but still enjoy the cycling:
- Bike to a random bus stop and wait for the bus. This isn't much fun, since some routes aren't very frequent.
- Bike to a transit center and grab the first bus going downtown. I did this Monday with decent results. It was weird riding five miles in the wrong directions.
- Bike to a bus stop that's in the general direction of my destination, and that has a shelter. Sit down and relax.
- When leaving work, go to 16th Street and take the first bus going in any direction. Exit the bus after 10 minutes and then try to figure out how to get home. This could be fun.
- Take the bus to the Keystone and then ride home. I did this today using the #4/#14 and cycled from 90th and Maple. The weather was gorgeous, so I enjoyed a sweat-free leisurely ride in my office clothes.
- Ride the bus to lunch. I did this today, meeting my wife at one of our favorite midtown restaurants. I then hit the Midtown Transit Center and grabbed the first bus back downtown. Bringing the bike helped me stay flexible and move to the stops/transit center more quickly.
- To rack up more trips, I could bike to a stop. Ride the bus for a few minutes. Exit the bus and bike to another stop. Repeat.
- Bike to a bus stop. Ride the bus. Exit the bus and sprint ahead of the bus, boarding same bus again. This is likely to annoy the driver (and passengers), and is not advised.
Using the unlimited ride card really changed my habits and thoughts about the bus. I logged a five block ride the other day. If I had to pay a dollar and a quarter for that, it would have seemed preposterous. Having the free pass totally changed my idea of what one can do with a bus. The 30 day card costs $50, and for someone who wants or needs to use the bus a couple of times a day, it's really worth it. Under normal conditions, I ride the bus once a week, so it wouldn't be the best use of the money. One of my reasons for cycling to work is to save the gas and parking expense, and replacing that with a $50 bus pass would certainly eat into the savings.
If I were to get rid of one of our two personal vehicles (not counting my son's car) and didn't have to ferry my daughter from time to time like I do, then I would absolutely buy the pass each month.
Bicycle Commuter Challenge
All I know of this one is that it starts in May. It will be interesting if it overlaps with the YP Bus Challenge. I suppose that's the cool thing about multi-modal bike/bus commuting, in that I can do both with proper planning and record keeping. I don't think I can count the miles that my bike is being carried by the bus as bike commuter miles, however. That'd be nice, huh?
This is usually initiated with a Mayor's Ride in conjunction with National Bike To Work Week. I'm thinking it might be fun to show up for this in a suit and tie, as suggested by EB, perhaps with a briefcase on the rack. Do you think this would be seen as the joke it is, or taken seriously by people who take everything seriously?
Corporate Cycling Challenge
This is really just a fun group ride. Routes are usually at 10, 25, and 45 miles.
It's not too late to sign up for the YP Bus Challenge. You don't even need a full team. Watch the local bike blogs for more information in the future for more information on the other challenges.