My Commute: Chris Smith

Editor’s Note: We hope to make ‘My Commute’ or ‘My Trip’ a regular Sunday feature. We’re looking for stories of how people get around the region in creative or noteworthy ways.

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Perhaps the most salient feature of my commute is that most days, I don’t! I live in NW Portland and work for the Xerox Office Group in Wilsonville. Four days out of five, I telecommute from my home (or anywhere else I can find a high-speed connection for my laptop).

But you have to see your co-workers sometimes, and Thursdays are staff meeting day for me.

Since I haven’t seen much of my car (a Geo Metro) since my step-son turned 17 (he uses it to commute to school and work) my Thursday commute trip is decidely multi-modal.

In the morning, I hop on my bike (a very heavy cruiser, but with fenders and a chain guard making it great for street clothes) and pedal down (literally a slight downhill – about 1.5 miles) to the Pearl district, where I pick up the TriMet #96 at the start of the transit mall. Some mornings the two bike racks fill up at the first stop!

45 minutes and $1.70 later (actually, I buy the 10-ticket books and it’s a little cheaper), I’ve read the morning papers and am at Commerce Circle at the end of the line. Wilsonville has done a great job of putting in bike lanes as they have redeveloped their streets, so another quick pedal (about 2.5 miles) across the freeway and I’m at my desk at Xerox (bike lockers available, but since I’m only doing this one day a week, I just use the rack by the door). A total of 4 miles of light pedaling mean I’m not sweaty and don’t need a shower, I can go right to staff meeting.

At the end of the day, the headphones go on to catch the news on NPR and I make use of another great transit system, SMART (South Metro Area Rapid Transit). The SMART 201 line picks me up at my office and deposits me and my cruiser at the Barbur Transit Center 30 minutes later – and it’s FREE.

From the Transit Center, it’s a half mile downhill (with bike lane), a slight uphill (intermitant bike lanes) and then downhill for five miles into downtown. If I want to get some exercise I can push myself here. Then there’s the adrenalin rush at the two bridges on Barbur where the bike lane goes away and I have to merge back into traffic :-)

Downtown I can either speed through on 4th Ave (the slight downhill makes it easy to keep up with the signal progression, I generally head for the middle lane and take the lane, the cars don’t mind because I can keep up with the cars in front of us). Or, I can drop down to Waterfront Park for the scenic route. Then it’s back up through the Pearl to Northwest in time to get over to Friendly House for the weekly CSA pickup. Total bike miles for the return trip, about 8.

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