You might have your sustainable commutes figured out where you live. But what about coming up with a whole new routine for just a few days in an unfamiliar city. That’s exactly what Michael Gorman did during a recent conference in Cleveland. Thanks to Michael for sharing his experience with the Good To Go Blog.
As a commuter with a five-minute walk to work at Illinois Wesleyan University, I was excited to go to a conference in downtown Cleveland recently; I saw it as an opportunity to work out a new type of sustainable commute.
The first step was to figure out how to get from Bloomington to Cleveland. Amtrak’s schedule didn’t work out, so the best options would either be flying or driving. According to BeFrugal.com’s Fly or Drive Calculator, flying would cost more than five times as much, have almost double the CO2 output, and not even save much time, so the best choice was clearly to drive.
I know from experience that I can fit my bicycle in the back of my Prius very easily, and, like the BNPTS, Cleveland’s public transit agency has installed bike racks on all of its buses. I decided to find a cheap hotel on the outskirts of town, bike downtown every morning, and ride the bus back after the conference activities each night. I found the best bus and bike routes on Google Maps, and asked a local bike advocacy group on Twitter whether it was a safe way to go.
If you think you might want to do this, too, here are a few pieces of advice. First, if you can, get to your hotel when there’s still a good amount of daylight on the day before the conference begins. I tried out my route the day before, when there was no real pressure, and am glad I did; one intersection was under construction and not well marked, so I missed a turn the first time around. If this had happened on the first day of the conference, I might have been late to the opening keynote.
Another piece of advice: find out how much it costs to ride the bus, and carry the right amount of cash. I did the first part ($2.25 in Cleveland), but I forgot to carry singles and change, so I ended up paying $5.00 for the first night’s ride back to my hotel.
Last, make sure there’s a good place to park your bike when you get to the conference. As the Flickr photostream Bikes Need Racks shows, there isn’t necessarily always going to be a solid rack available, and it may not be a great neighborhood. You may want to call the venue and ask about nearby bike racks, just to be sure.
Getting to the conference every morning with a bike helmet and a healthy bit of visible sweat may not be for everyone, but it definitely was a great conversation starter, and I had a great time trying this out. I just hope that I can do the same sort of thing next time I visit a new city.
Thanks again to Michael Gorman for sharing his experiences while commuting in Cleveland. He’s Illinois Wesleyan University’s web developer. Mike McCurdy is WGLT Program Director and co-coordinates the community sustainable transportation project, Good To Go.