Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tip #3: Come up with a self sufficiency pack.

Being a transit commuter or bike commuter requires that you be relatively self-sufficient. Items that I have found indispensible, and I will admit these are indulgent in some regards.

1) Mobile phone - This is essential since your plans will change, you will have to be able to coordinate these changes.
2) Transit schedules for your mostly traveled routes - Because transit in most suburban areas is infrequent, the penalty for remembering the wrong time or just missing a train or bus is huge. We've experienced it when we miss a connection when we fly, same thing just you never leave the ground. If you have a Treo or Palm device the following are nice:
a) In the S.F. Bay Area, Caltrain ( packages a small application with the current schedules of all trains.
b) Many bus lines will have spreadsheet files that you can put onto your device with schedules for each route. Santa Clara county provides bus maps that can be placed on a PDA. (, but less convenient than what Caltrain offers.
3) A music player - iPods are wildly successful in NYC and with good reason. Just as music makes your driving commute more pleasant, it does the same for mass transit. DO NOT USE AN IPOD WHILE RIDING A BIKE.
4) A book, paper work or flashcards - You will most likely have some free time if you are mass transiting. What you have lost in a few extra minutes of time, you have gained in functional time. Aside from Miles from the movie "Sideways" doing crossword puzzles while driving is not recommended, but on a train is entirely fine. It is a great way to study a language too. If you have a MP3 player, sites have spring up offering free short language classes. Just go to your favorite search engine and type in 'LANGUAGE OF YOUR CHOICE' pod. For instance Spanish can be subscribed to at Spanish Arriba (feed:// and ChinesePod ( for Chinese.
5) A bag that rides over your butt - If you are in motion, you are expending energy (what do you think happens when you burn gas in your car?) and you'll need to cool down which means you sweat. Well a bag acts as a jacket keeping heat in, so if you have a backpack it'll just make your back sweaty. If you're riding a bike, I recommend paniers or a rear rack. If you are walking or biking, messenger bags are adjustable and can be placed where you don't sweat as much.
6) miscellany - water, energy bars, change and other items are nice to have as well.


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