Letter: Where was bike in commuter story?In the July 16 edition, Rory Brown, Almanac staff writer, wrote an expose of sorts about Menlo Park's public transportation system. At the end of the article, he announced proudly his "dependence" on the conveniences of a car, and that he would be returning to driving it, citing that the public transportation system was too stressful.
However, Mr. Brown researched the article with "no car, no rides, no bike." The article acknowledges the environmental damage of driving, but that does not seem to tally them into the author's final decision.
Mr. Brown mentions the two miles he was forced to walk when he missed the bus connection as a result of poor coordination among the different public transportation companies. This inconvenience could easily be solved by a leisurely 10- or 15-minute bike ride, faster if the biker desires.
Caltrain, the author's transportation of choice from San Francisco to Menlo Park, has a bike car on every train. Therefore, Mr. Brown could ride from his home to the train, tether the bike in the train car, then ride from the Menlo Park train station to the office of the Almanac. This also brings the journey much more tightly into Mr. Brown's (or any other commuter's) control, relieving much of the stress by skipping the missed connections.
The stress not relieved (catching the train at all) is made up for monetarily and ecologically by the savings in gas. One caption claims "sitting and staring were common experiences" for Mr. Brown. I am inclined to wonder why — after the first day — he didn't bring a book or a newspaper or an iPod or other work, activities unavailable while driving.
When the effects of global warming become painfully obvious (as all scientists believe it will), it will be too late to make small corrections, such as riding the train instead of driving. It is the responsibility of the common citizen to make small changes — driving less, eating less beef, buying locally, turning off the tap while brushing one's teeth— and Rory Brown's cavalier dismissal of public transportation when he has, in my opinion, only made a minimal effort to make efficient use of the system, calls for revision and a second, more earnest attempt.
Because I believe it is highly workable (if not sometimes easier) to use a combination of public transportation and bicycle, I challenge Rory Brown to do another five-day expose, this time using both train and bike to get from home to work and back again.
Hobart Street, Menlo Park