Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Day 2 -The kid transport dilemma

I knew from the begining that the most challenging part of the challenge was going to be transporting my kids to their various activities. I can get myself to just about anywhere I need to go under my own power simply by allowing enough time to ride there. Transporting my kids, particularly my nine year old who doesn't know how to ride in a straight line yet is more complicated. I do have an old trail-a-long that I can pull behind my road bike and I've even made a tow bar to pull my son's little recumbent trike behind mine. Further complicating things is the fact that both kids play the cello and their lessons are in a different town.
I figured today would be my best chance to solve this dilemma since my son had his last half day of the school year and I had arranged to pick him up at 1:45. There would be plenty of time to figure this out. The logical first option was the city bus. I've lived in New Britain for 17 years now and I've never ridden the city bus. After checking the web site I discovered that there was a bus from downtown New Britain to the mall and a connecting bus into West Hartford center. Everything seemed doable. There would be a 15 minute walk with a nine year old and a kid sized cello but that seemed a reasonable sacrifice for the cause. Then I examined the bus schedule more carefully. The bus leaves for the mall every hour on the half hour. It misses a connection by 10 minutes with another bus leaving the mall which also runs every hour. So I would have to have left the house at about 2:10 to get to a 5pm lesson and repeat the almost 3 hour trip home. Almost 6 hours on public transit vs. 15 minutes each way by car. No wonder everyone thinks they need a car.
So public transit wasn't a viable option. The more I thought about it the more I said this is maybe a 40 minute bike ride at the most. I could dig out the trail-a-long raise the seat post, hug it up to my road bike, put the cello on my back and get my son to his lesson in much less time than the bus. That was the working plan as I headed to school to collect my son. Then my wife called to ask if I had heard about the tornado watch. I hadn't focused on the weather in the morning. It was warm and sunny as I rode to work. Faced with lousy bus service, a kid, a cello, and a wife nervous about a possible tornado, I concluded I really had no choice but to invoke the cello exemption to the car free challenge. It turned out that wasn't a bad decision. As we loaded the cello into the back of the car, the sky opened up and we got about an inch of rain in a very intense half hour storm.

1 comment:

John Clifford said...

Yep... we forget how tough it was a century ago when no one had cars, and everyone was at the mercy of the weather. Cars are nice! I just wish diesel engines were more readily available, along with biodiesel.

BTW, our commuting shirt called this the year of the 'low carbon commute.' I guess I qualify with a titanium frame!