Alternative transportation to combine with bicycling

There are situations where a bike is not enough. Maybe you need to travel farther or faster than a bike allows.

If you do not have a car handy, and live in a city, there are some other ways to get around.


Car sharing

Car sharing is sort of like renting a car, except you probably will pay a small annual fee plus a rate under US$10 per hour. That description is simplistic; I encourage you to check the CarSharing Network site for general information, plus details on any car share groups in your area.

If you can find a car sharing organization that has cars parked within biking distance of your home, this could be very convenient.


Carpooling/rideshare

You could search for something like "Los Angeles" rideshare carpool at Google.

Or check some online classified ads. For example, visit craigslist, click on your city's name in the list on the right, then click the rideshare link.


Bus or light rail

For a cyclist, mass transit that makes lots of stops within short distances might be too slow. The ideal option is a frequently appearing express bus/trolley that travels along a main road or freeway, making only one stop per neighborhood or town. A cyclist can bike to meet the express and board it, then get off at a stop and bike quickly and directly to the destination.

Check the website of your local transit agency. You will learn what express services serve your area. You can also learn about certain restrictions; for example, the bike racks on their buses might be unable to take a recumbent style bicycle.

Try out the available express routes before you need them, to make sure the service works well for you.

If there are no bike racks mounted onto a bus, or there's a realistic chance that the racks will be full when the bus reaches you, then you should use a folding bike. You will probably need a model that folds into an especially small package, plus a bag to cover that package.

Check if you can get off the bus/trolley and then walk to your final destination. If so, and if either end of your ride has a transit center, you might be able to use a bike locker. As you can see below, they protect all parts of your bike well.


Locking bicycle in box locker at transit center after commuting

Lock commuter bike in swing-down cover at transit center Lock commuter bike in opened swing-down cover at transit center

Inter-city service

When I say inter-city service, I am referring to train, bus, and airline companies.

Bicycles are considered to be oversized baggage by most of these companies. Their official rules often state either that they will refuse to carry your bike or that they will charge you extra money. I'm not sure how rigorously the baggage rules are enforced. Beware that, if they do take the bike, they might damage it.

You might avoid those problems if you are willing to partly disassemble and box up your bike. If the carrier doesn't provide the box, a nearby bike shop might be happy to give away a shipping box from a bicycle they just received.

Packing a regular bike is probably too much trouble for most commuters. This is another good reason to own a folding bike. Some folding bikes, even when packed up, are still oversized.

For more information on this subject, check this Travel with Bicycles site.

In the US, Amtrak and Greyhound, plus the airlines, provide most of the mass transit between cities.

I've never used Amtrak, so I can't comment on their service. You might check epinions about Amtrak to see if you want to try them.

If Greyhound is offering special fares, it can be an amazingly cheap way to go. My personal opinion is that Greyhound is good for getting to the next city if you don't have to change buses. If you need to transfer but your first bus is delayed, you could miss your planned connection. Missing the bus means you will probably wait at a bus station for many hours before the next bus comes. This happened to me once; I did not enjoy it!


Temporary alternatives

I created this section for those who rely on public transit systems for part of their commute.

Suppose that a transit workers' strike is looming, you have no car, and you've been unable to find a carpool/rideshare/carshare arrangement. What can you do?