Slowly, my idea to commute to Ferndale via a bus-bicycle combination is coming together. Revolution Bicycles is sponsoring me, which means they’ll provide me with a bike and all the necessary gear (thanks, Jack!).

I currently drive a minimum of 350 miles per week and spend an average of $32 on gas.

I live in Manila, work five days a week in Ferndale, work three days a week in Arcata, and drive my kids to school in Arcata five days a week. I also drive to Westhaven every Saturday for my daughters’ horseback riding lessons and to the Jetty a few times a week (hopefully) to surf. Not all these are negotiable, but my goal is to reduce my driving by half through a combination of biking, bussing and carpooling. Because I want this to be a permanent lifestyle change – as opposed to a short-term exception – I’ve created what I hope is a realistic plan for alternatives to driving.

Here is my initial three-week plan:

Week 1:
Catch the 8:44 a.m. bus in Manila and take it to Fernbridge, where it should arrive at 9:36 p.m. Bike the four-miles to the station in time for my 10 a.m. shift. Easy-peasy. (Bus passes are $14 for 10 one-way rides.)
Finish at 2 p.m., ride to CR (about 11 miles), catch the 3:20 bus, get back to Manila at 3:57 p.m.
Total bike mileage for week: 55 miles

(One problem: I have to be at the Eye by 3 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday. Maybe catch a ride from John Matthews, with my bike, to the Eye office, then bike home from there? But then how will the kids get home from Arts in the Afternoon on Wednesday? Leave in time to make the 2:15 p.m. bus at CR, which would get me to Arcata at 2:59 p.m.?)

Week 2:
Same morning plan, but bike all the way home (24 miles) on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; get ride from John to Arcata Wednesday and Friday.
Total bike mileage for week: 92 miles.

Week 3:
Same morning plan, but bike all the way home (24 miles) on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; bike to Arcata on Wednesday and Friday (27 miles).
Total bike mileage: 146 miles

Bus fare for the three weeks: $28
Total car miles saved: 720 miles
Estimated money saved on gas: $57

Carry on with a combination of above. This is an ambitious plan, I know, but I think the goals are attainable.

During these three weeks, I hope to interview people involved with bicycle commuting and related issues who will inspire and inform people in an entertaining way (suggestions welcome). I will also chronicle all this in the Eye – in a more fun way than I’m posting about it here. I realize this is rather dry, but I need the outline!

(Thought: given that my 11-year-old son has diabetes and may need me immediately, plus the general need to be able to respond to any of my children in case of emergency, I must insure that I have the support of people at the station – that if needed, someone will be willing to drop everything and rush me back to town. Otherwise, I cannot chance not having a car.)

(Another note: I look forward to getting my body back into shape. All these hours of sitting have taken a toll.)