OCTA’s severe transit cuts have made traveling by bus much more unpredictable, spontaneous affairs, and since I need a bicycle to get to places the bus doesn’t, I often wait at the bus stop and wonder if the next bus’s bicycle racks, like this photo on line 43, will be full. I’ve been refused to board at least twice within a month because of this unfortunate scenario, and unfortunately, one bus can only carry two bicycles at a time (unless the bus driver generously lets you take your bicycle on board). What to do about it (besides resorting to driving)?
Solution: folding bicycle!
Folding bicycles are great for traveling to hard-to-reach destinations (like Irvine), or for buses whose bicycle racks are often full (like around Santa Ana). OCTA allows you to take folding bicycles on board, but since folding bicycles are an uncommon sight in Orange County, you may have to remind your bus driver that this rule is in the Bus Book.
- At the bus stop, if you expect the bike racks to be full, fold your bicycle at least 1-2 minutes before the bus arrives and keep it tucked out of the bus driver’s sight before boarding (see photo right). I’ve had one incidence where a bus driver — whose bus’s bike racks were full — drove past me without stopping because he thought I had a full-sized bicycle.
- It’s also good to, by default, bring your folding bicycle on-board as a courtesy to any other bicyclists who, down the road, may need the bike rack.
- Make sure you bicycle carefully on your folding bicycle, as the smaller wheels (16″-20″) are less stable than a full-sized bicycle’s (26″). Always wear gloves and a helmet in case you fall (and suffer the unfortunate consequences of FOOSH — “fall-on-outstretched-hand”). Don’t place additional weights (such as bags) on the handlebars.
- You could disguise your folding bicycle as baggage if you get a folding bicycle bag. Dahon sells them for about $65; they even sell luggage for folding bicycles.
- Place your folding bicycle underneath seats, to get it out of the way of other passengers. Beneath the disabled/elderly seats are great places to put your bicycle.
You can get a decent folding bicycle for a fairly good price from Citizen Bike, for as low as $164. My wonderful sweetheart got me a refurbished DahonBoardwalk for around $200-$300. It definitely beats paying for more gas.