Decision review: Metropass instead of biking to work in November

After a pleasant weekend bike ride with W-, I thought I’d get back into the habit of biking to work.

I’d stopped in August because I didn’t want to risk damaging my new laptop. During a bumpy trip to the office, W’s previous laptop had bounced unnoticed out of his panniers and onto the road, where several passing trucks flattened it into a pancake. Fortunately, it was a work laptop, so replacement wasn’t difficult. If I damaged my spiffy new souped-up laptop, though, I’d probably regret it a bit. (Yes, stuff is stuff, but it’s okay to be cautious.) So I commuted via subway, wheeling along a small suitcase with my personal laptop and my work laptop.

The small suitcase’s wheels finally gave out, and I switched to bringing a backpack. It was tough with two computers, but fortunately I received a much-anticipated hardware upgrade at work. Because my new work laptop could handle running my development virtual machines and the programs we needed for work, I started leaving my personal laptop at home. This meant that I could bike into work if I wanted to.

I biked to work once. The next day, up much earlier than sunrise, I thought about whether I should just give in to the idea of getting a public transit pass instead of trying to tough it out and bike for as long as possible in November.

Biking: Exercise; ease of doing errands; will still prefer to take transit when rainy or snowy

Public transit pass (Metropass): $121

Public transit tokens: 40 tokens at $2.50 = $100, plus extra tokens if I need to go to the client site and the office on the same day.

Because a Metropass was not much more expensive than paying for public transit tokens, using the pass is more convenient than juggling tokens, I decided to go for a pass. Work covers the expense, but even if I were paying for it myself, I’d probably still make the same decision. With the transit tax credit of 15.25%, the after-tax cost comes out to around the same as buying tokens for weekday travel, and weekend travel would be a bonus.

I’m going to take the subway this month, although I might still bike if the weekends are pleasant. I’ll use the time to listen to podcasts like the Psych Files (behavioural psychology = hacking your brain) or to draft posts. Maybe I might even pick up a few more books for my Kindle. We’ll see. =)

  • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/annemowat Anne Mowat

    I like the way you work on these problems Sacha.

    There is one factor, probably not a huge one, difficult to quantify, but a factor just the same, in this decision. Safety. I think your personal safety is a value, and riding a bike in daylight in a busy city is risky for even the most proficient cyclist – esp in non-daylight hours. It’s not so much how you will ride, as how drivers “see” us. They “see” what they expect to see, and they tend not to expect to see cyclists, especially in bad weather.

    When I bike-commuted years ago, I was always a bit tense on approach at intersections in our city. I am never totally sure the driver in the left turning lane will wait for me to clear the intersection.
    My partner was actually hit by a driver as she turned left – her helmet saved her life and her brain function. The driver of the car swore he did not see her, and I believed him. I have had the experience myself, driving along a familiar route, lost in thought, and I totally miss important stuff in my environment.

    It’s probably not a huge reason for taking the Metro, and the risk is always there, even for pleasure-trips. But how do you quantity that risk, so you balance the benefits with the danger?

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Anne: I forgot to mention that part! =) Daylight’s getting shorter over here, and I don’t want to deal with tired drivers – particularly once snow starts.

    During good biking days (mostly summer), I balance the risk of getting hit with the benefits of getting exercise. As I always wear my helmet, bike with paranoia on the right side of the road, and ring my bell whenever passing parked cars, and rarely rarely rarely turn left, I think this brings the risk to a manageable level. The key things that make me nervous are cars that turn right and cars that are parked, so I keep an extra eye out for those.

  • http://www.daysstories.blogspot.com Mom

    If the little suitcase that you mentioned is the brown Elle trolley bag (convertible to backpack) that I gave you, then I can have those wheels replaced. Fortunately, most suitcases are covered by lifetime warranties.

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Are they? Nifty! Do you still have the receipt for those? =)

  • http://www.daysstories.blogspot.com Mom

    They don’t even require receipts, although I probably have that, too. Luggage manufacturers know what’s theirs and don’t require receipts or warranty cards. I’m sure of lifetime warranties for Echolac (your rosepink suitcases – are they with Kathy?), have successfully tried having Samsonites repaired, but will have to check about Elle – since this is the first time that I’ve had trouble with Elle. I will inquire even before you send or bring it back.