I go between NE and SE Portland a lot, because of having friends in both places. There isn’t a great way to do it by bus, as anyone who’s tried knows — unless you’re right near the 6, the 75, or the 72 on both ends, it just takes for-freaking-ever. And it’s not an easy bike trip either, what with climbing the Alameda Ridge, and the lack of connections over I-84.
I’ve just recently started experimenting with bike+transit as the best way to make some of my regular trips. I could have tried this out before I had the Tikit, but I worried about not being able to get on the bus or MAX with my bike. Now they can’t kick me off!
Today I planned to ride down to Lloyd Center MAX, hop on the Green Line, and get off at Division St, near my friend’s house. The trip takes about 40 minutes, compared to an hour or more to walk and take the bus. Without the bike, I can’t reach the MAX fast enough to take advantage of its greater speed — both my friend and I live just a little too far away (1.8 and 1.2 miles).
Everything was going according to plan until we got to Gateway and the driver announced it would be the last stop for the train, because of a biohazard in the rear car. Everyone groaned and looked at each other, complaining and wondering how they would get where they were going and whether they would be late. I looked at the green hills outside and the green bike beside me and smiled. The I-205 bike path runs right next to the station, so I hopped on it, rode a few extra miles, and got some bonus sunshine along the way. Arriving at my friend’s house, I easily folded the bike and put it by the door, where I knew it wouldn’t be in anyone’s way as a full-size bike might.
On the way back, I had a while before the Green Line was going to show up at Division. With the bike, it was easy to retrace my route to Gateway, where all the lines converge, to see if I could get an earlier train home — I knew that if I couldn’t, the Green Line would still be along shortly. I barely made it in time to catch the Blue Line train I was aiming for (the light timing on the path is pretty terrible). If I’d had my regular bike, I might not have gotten on since I couldn’t see any empty hooks in the nearest car. But I knew I didn’t have to worry about that so I just got on anyway.
With the bike, I had so many more options: to take the MAX, to ride the rest of the way when the MAX couldn’t get me there, and to choose my train home from a bunch of options, not just one. The Green Line and the Green Zebra turned out to be a perfect combination for a green spring day.