A new job in the central city meant having to think about commuting. Bit of a novelty after ten months of choosing when I travelled!
Driving and Parkable
I drove for a couple of weeks, while settling in, and used a Kiwi parking share app to avoid making the likes of Wilsons Parking richer.
Driving takes about 50-60 minutes and my route, following GPS traffic suggestions, does not use the motorway.
Parkable makes parking easy and (more) affordable. While you can book long term, week or more, parking on Parkable I just used the daily casual option. Fire up the application at home, select where you'd like to park and hit "Reserve" to claim a space. After 30 minutes your reservation turns into parking and charging by the hour starts.
You drive to work knowing you will have a park and stop paying when you leave. Pricing and term length is up to the owner, most around the office charge up to four hours/day maximum with the rest of the session 'free'. If you forget to end a session the app will warn you after 12 hours and offer to end it. I had covered, but not secured parking, but if there are powered gates or doors their operation is integrated into the app.
It's a wonderful system but you are still running a car and paying for parking...
It's about 20km, an hour riding including a few traffic lights, to cycle all the way. I can use quiet suburban roads to New Lynn, bike path from there onwards, via the recently opened New Lynn - Avondale link path to connect to the SH20/SH16 bike paths so traffic isn't an issue.
I will do that sometimes but changing clothes (good that there's a shower at work) adds another 10-15 minutes and hassle so not really an everyday solution. The Strava below is from a weekend ride but shows the route to the city I timed.
I don't live too far from a train station so tried it. Walking to the station is about 25 minutes, the train journey 47 minutes with another 17-minute walk from the end of the line to the office.
The walk (red on map below) from Britomart to Victoria Park is ok, but while walking thought a scooter or bike would be so much quicker. An 89-minute journey doesn't compare to the car in time but the cost, currently COVID measure half price $2.70/each way, is nice.
Cutting the corner
I noticed a lot of the train time is from Grafton Station, near Newmarket, to Britomart. The train leaves Grafton and halts for a few minutes waiting for a signal to access Newmarket. It then stops there for quite a while, stops again at Parnell, before getting to Britomart 17 minutes later. A third of the journey is the last few kilometres looping around the CBD. This will improve when the Central Rail Project is finished but will still have a walk from Victoria St down to Victoria Park.
Abandoning the train at Grafton and cycling to work (blue) would be shorter than the walk from Britomart in addition to cutting out the train time. Even better the morning commute is flat or downhill and mostly on bike path or shared bus lanes.
The total bike > train > bike trip is about 49 minutes. As fast, or faster, than the car, cheaper and no traffic variables!
Why a folding bike?
You can take bikes on the train, for no cost, but if busy they have the right to refuse. Fair enough given a normal bike takes 4-5 linear seats but not an issue at the times I've travelled. Folding bikes are allowed any time but have other aspects which make them attractive.
There's no dedicated bike park at work, some racks outside but I'd rather not leave a bike locked there all day. With the folding bike I can take inside, even tuck under my desk if necessary (it isn't). If attending a function in town, Revit User Group etc, can just fold and bring inside saving the trouble of locking, leaving in the street.
Had always thought a folding bike would be cool to have, chuck or keep in the car for casual use, but couldn't justify the expense. Being free means that is no longer an issue.
How is a bike free?
The car uses ~$50/week fuel, another $85 for parking. Public Transport is half price until end of January 2023 (a COVID cost of living subsidy) so $108/week saving. Even full fare would be $81/week saving. It means the bike is 'free' after 18 weeks commuting.
A folding Tern BYB P8
When I think of folding bikes only a few brands really come to mind. First, the iconic Brompton which I considered but proved to be near impossible to get in NZ. The only local sales were for the electric version, far too expensive and not what I needed. After that Dahon similarly had no local presence which left Tern.
I set out to buy the entry level Tern Link C8 but settled on the more expensive BYB P8. Both have 20-inch wheels, roll a bit better than the 16-inch some folding bikes use, and 1 x 8 derailleur drivetrain with vee brakes. My ideal spec would have been belt drive, hub gear and disc brakes but not currently offered here by Tern.
The main benefits of the P8 vs C8 are the tri-fold joint frame means it folds smaller (35×81×52 cm vs 39.5×80×73), the 'Metro Transit Rack with built-in spinner wheels for easier trolleying' and better Shimano Acera gears with thumb trigger, rather than twist-grip, change. The downside, it's a bit heavier at 14.3 kg (rack included) vs 12.8 kg for the naked C8.
Thanks to the team at Rouleur Cycles for preparing it in about an hour after I walked in and purchased. My first ride was from Onehunga over Ngā Hau Māngere, the new walking and cycling connection over the Manukau Harbour on opening day.
The bike is surprisingly rigid, only oddity is very responsive steering compared to the 27.5/700c wheel bikes I normally ride. The 1 x 8 drivetrain gives a good range of gearing, proved to be ok on the steeper urban climbs.
Not fully folded below, the seat goes down more, and only takes a few seconds to do. All the folding joints are cam levers, like big quick release wheels, with a positive lock and safety catch to prevent accidental release. The integrated wheels, mudguards and basic reflectors mean all I added was a basic Cateye odometer and my existing rechargeable lights to be ready for the road.
I carry a small drybag with pump, tube, and multi-tool in my backpack. Normally hate riding with a backpack, both hot and mass up high, but the ride is so short no need to bother with panniers or bike mount bags. It's currently fine riding in work clothes; trousers and casual collar shirt. When it warms up in summer, I'll change into shorts for the uphill to Grafton ride home at least.
Home to the station is flat and only takes ~7 minutes including 'folding time'.
The train ride is 30 minutes from Sunnyvale to Grafton Stations. Can't remember when I last rode traditional toe clips but found an old, but unused, toe clip strap useful to fasten the bike while on the train. I don't fold it completely and travel a little bit off-peak, so the trains are only part full. They run every 10 minutes so no need to think too much about a timetable.
The city leg is flat/downhill in the morning. The Park Rd/Grafton Bridge portion is in car free bus lane then it is mostly bike path. I use part of the Karangahape Rd bike path, Upper Queen St & Canada St link to Lightpath, and down Nelson St Path to Wellesley St.
Seems a Tern is faster than Google predicts...
The commute includes the iconic Pink 'Lightpath' Bike Path: a repurposed obsolete motorway offramp which links Upper Queen Street to Nelson Street. It's an enjoyable way to start and end the day!
The best part of the new commute
Rolling past this sign, near the entry to the office...