Wednesday 17 December 2014

Opportunities, benefits and tips for mixed mode commuting

Summary: Mixed mode commuting simply involves combining more than one mode of transport in completing a trip - public transport, cycling, walking and driving. Many people that could gain some benefits from mixed mode commuting don't consider it carefully enough and stick to their existing mode (primarily driving or public transport only). Others struggle with the challenges of mixed mode commuting (connections, parking, flexible bike access). This post will collate opportunities, benefits and tips for getting the most out of mixed mode commuting with cycling as a key element.

Flickr CC by 2.0 - EURIST e.V.

Related Posts:
> See the commuting category of this blog.
Getting the most out of using bikes and public transport together
The distance of your common trips does matter or you need good connections with public transport

1. Many people are dissatisfied with their current commute but are unaware of practical mixed mode solutions involving cycling
- This post was triggered by the below article and its reader comments that emphasised how unsatisfactory it is to be wasting your life and damaging your health being stuck in traffic each workday. When "rush hour" commuting is so slow and frustrating on multi-lane roads and cyclists are flying by smiling, it is worthwhile considering how you might improve your commute.

Daily Telegraph: Sydney drivers being slammed by the city’s 11km/h crush hour

Daily Telegraph: Sydney drivers being slammed by the city’s 11km/h crush hour

2. Your health, happiness and productivity are the main reasons to consider incorporating active modes into your commute
- It's common to focus solely on optimising commute time but the real message of stories about all the time wasted stuck in traffic is that many people already spend a large amount of time commuting (more than they imagine) and so saving time is not a legitimate excuse to avoid considering cycling or walking. The real benefits of embedding cycling or walking into your daily commute aren't saving time (in fact, it could take slightly longer) but the health, happiness and productivity benefits.
> Vox: Biking or walking to work will make you happier and healthier

3. Identify the biggest issues, potential benefits and barriers and focus on resolving them via mixed mode solutions
- There are either problems to be solved or unrealised benefits to be obtained so it's important to list the ones that are applicable to you and your situation. These include:
(a) Saving time
(b) Improving your health by embedding exercise into your commute
(c) Replacing at least part of a frustrating, stressful commute with an enjoyable one
(d) Making your commute more reliable, autonomous or flexible
(e) Saving money

4. Distance doesn't need to prevent cycling you can combine cycling with public transport in efficient ways
- If by cycling to public transport you are able to eliminate having to commute by car, the overall benefits will be significant. There may be no or little time and inconvenience penalty and the financial and health benefits are considerable. See: > The real costs of commuting by car are insanely high

- If you drive to public transport currently, cycling instead may ultimately eliminate the need for one car in your household. More importantly, cycling instead of driving is healthier, less stressful and can be much more enjoyable.
See: The distance of your common trips does matter or you need good connections with public transport

5. If the Park-and-ride being full prevents you from using public transport, then cycle there
- Park-and-ride facilities at train stations are heavily subsidised and so will often fill up early. However, cycling to the park-and-ride is often a practical alternative and bike parking is rarely full. Even if the most secure or protected bike parking is limited, you can use a cheap, robust bike that is less likely to be stolen and you can afford to leave unsheltered.
See: How to prevent your bike being stolen

6. If there is no decent public transport option for longer trips consider combining cycling with driving
- For many people in their current circumstances (e.g. where they live vs where they work), eliminating a car by cycling all the way to work isn't feasible. And often public transport is unavailable, not reliable, inefficient or difficult to connect with. However, there are still benefits to replacing part of the drive with cycling. It is unlikely to save much time but it does enable you to incorporate daily exercise into your commute which has significant health and enjoyment benefits. It can also save you money and hassles with parking. Best of all, you can flexibly opt to do so when it makes most sense (weather is suitable, you have time).
See: Built-in exercise is a major benefit of cycling for transport

7. Bike share offers a flexible way to leverage bikes without needing to worry about theft, parking or being locked in. Or leave your own bike locked in the place you need it
- The easiest part of many commuter's trips to replace with active transport is often the proverbial "last mile" - the shorter trips typically from transit/parking stations to your destination. These shorter trips are often unnecessarily time-consuming and frustrating if dependent on public transport.
See: Getting the most out of using bikes and public transport together

- Alternatively, if bike share is unsuitable you can obtain a cheap, simple, durable bike that is not a theft target and leave it locked in the place you need it (e.g. near your transit stop). This can be a practical way of replacing part of your trip with a feasible cycling solution.
See: Solutions for using your own bike instead of public bike share

8. Folding bikes enable you to take your bike on public transport and keep it indoors
- If the size of your bike is an obstacle to taking it on public transport consider using a folding bike as they can be readily taken on trains, trams and buses. These can be bought new for as little as $300 and can usually fold/unfold in 30 seconds. They are particularly suitable when the bike trip distance is quite short. Several types, such as the Strida, can be wheeled along when folded. Remember you don't always need to carry your folding bike inside your destination, you can lock them outside with a U lock.
> Strida folding bikes in Australia

9. Public transport can help with hills or when the weather is unsuitable
- Often some of the specific barriers to a person cycling can be worked out with mixed mode solutions, such as putting a bike on a bus to get up particularly big hills. Or opting out of cycling when the weather is unsuitable. There are various flexible ways you can make this work.
The most common situations where a public transport alternative helps cyclists
How to maximise your cycling when faced with hills

Flickr CC by 2.0 - kcxd

Further Info:
Intermodal passenger transport

Daily Telegraph
Sydney drivers being slammed by the city’s 11km/h crush hour

Biking or walking to work will make you happier and healthier