Darcy Downs, Transportation Planner at GoTriangle, ditched her car in April for a full-time bike/bus commute. As we celebrate the last day of Bike Month, we asked Darcy about her first month as a bike commuter!
1. Describe your everyday commute:
DD: From my house in West Raleigh I bike 3/4 mile to the bus stop. If I’m going to our Raleigh office, I will take Route 300, 301 or 305 to downtown and bike the rest of the way. If I’m headed to RTP, I take Route 300 to the Regional Transit Center.
2. Why did you decide to become a bike commuter?
DD: I was only using my car to drive to work, so I decided to sell it. My husband and I are now a single-vehicle household. With only one car, we save money on maintenance, gas and other fees.
3. What was the biggest lesson you learned?
DD: How to carry stuff! Carrying my backpack on my back was inconvenient so I made a bike pannier out of a towel rack. I also learned how to minimize. I ditched my purse. Some days I’ll only fill up my water bottle halfway to save weight.
4. What is your favorite part?
DD: Definitely my bike ride home. It is all downhill, no pedaling, so it’s very exhilarating. Going up that hill in the morning takes 12 minutes, going down takes 5. I now see everything as a hill or not a hill. Also, now my husband has taken up a lot of the errands and household tasks. That is a plus!
5. What were you surprised by?
DD: I thought I had more physical endurance and stamina. Biking everyday shows you how in shape you are. The first week I had to keep stopping to walk up the hill. The first time I biked the whole way up was huge. I love how my endurance has gone up.
It took two weeks for me to feel comfortable biking in traffic. I was nervous about being in the street and the roads with bike lanes definitely made me feel safer.
6. What kind of gear did you need to get?
DD: I really wanted shoes that I could bike in and work in because I didn’t want to carry an extra pair of shoes and switch out. Keen makes Mary Janes so I just got those. I also need to get some waterproof gear. Right now, I just walk to the bus stop if it rains. On those days, I really miss my bike.
7. What would you say to people still on the fence about a bike commute?
DD: Well, I started my bike commuting a few weeks before I sold my car so I could get comfortable with not having a backup. Luckily I have a supportive employer, co-workers to talk me through it and online resources for how to put a bike on the bus.
I am not graceful at all, so if I can take up biking, you can do it too. Over time, you feel less silly. Oh, and wear bike shorts under everything.