Name: Orion S.
Where do you work, and what is your role in the company? I work at the business office of DaVita as a Credit Balance Specialist.
How do you usually get to work? How long have you been using this commute option?
I use a mix of transportation methods, but my bicycle is my main commuter, followed by vanpooling. I used to take the bus starting October 2018, but soon transitioned to vanpooling in February 2019. I bought a bicycle in March and haven’t regretted it at all. Of course, I still use the vanpool at least once a week, and I’m very pleased that we can request bicycle racks on the vans!
How far is your commute? How long does it take you each way?
Fortunately, my commute is only about five miles since recently moving to Fircrest. By bicycle, it takes me about 30 minutes to the office, and a little longer on my way home. By vanpool, it can take between 15-30 minutes depending on if we have other passengers to pick up. Finally, the bus takes a total of one hour since I prefer to walk the extra mile to the bus stop over the route right in front of my apartment complex!
What made you decide to commute this way?
There are quite a number of reasons why I use a mix of transportation.
I don’t own a car and don’t really like cars. Sometimes I get carsick as a passenger, and I always feel tense driving whether in traffic or not.
Time. I prefer cycling to work as I can leave whenever I need to. I tend to bicycle quickly, possibly due to how I used to deliver food on a bicycle in California.
Exercise. Bicycles are great for exercising no matter where I go. Buses allow me to walk. My office has an underground gym, so I get to exercise for an hour after using the vanpool!
Environmental. I’ve always admired the efforts to reduce the environmental impact of cars. Whether using the bus, vanpooling, bicycling, or walking, I feel so much better about myself and others who use these methods of transportation.
Cost. The price of walking? Your shoes. A bus fare? Less than a meal! Yes, the initial cost of buying a bicycle may be pretty high depending on what you get, but repairs are probably $5/month on average at the most!
Flexibility. I can go wherever I need to go on my own time.
What do you enjoy about your commute?
The one thing that I enjoy about commuting by bicycle is the feeling of accomplishment and the morning air. I’m traveling a longer distance with my own body. Sometimes I take detours on smaller streets just to enjoy the tranquility and nature some neighborhoods have. A sort of peace of mind.
I also really enjoy talking to my vanpool friends! It provides insight from different people and interesting news about the city. In fact, I didn’t know a few restaurants existed until they recommended me a few places! Socializing in the vanpool is probably my favorite reason why I take it, aside from getting to my office a bit faster.
When I really want to catch up on reading or need to take care of some bills, I take the bus. I can focus on getting things done in the bus, surprisingly enough!
Do you have any interesting stories from your commute?
One morning while cycling to work, I came across a man who seemed to have trouble with his bicycle. I stopped and asked if he needed some help. Fortunately, he managed to fix it himself. He appreciated the offer. I’ve been known to be a little too helpful to people, but I think this reminds me that the cycling community is very supportive of each other. When one of us is on the side of the road trying to fix something or have a flat tire, we extend a helping hand. I even received an inner tube for free a long time ago, even though I offered to repay that person. But it always puts a smile to my face whenever I witness goodwill such as this, and I always pay it forward.
Do you think you save money by commuting this way?
I definitely save money. I heard from my wife that she spent about $50 per week for her commute, not including car insurance or the impending repairs. We couldn’t keep the car anymore, but I think that’s a blessing in disguise.
How does your company help accommodate your commute option? (ex: if you’re a biker, are there adequate bike racks? If a bus rider, does your company offer a free bus pass?)
I am extremely fortunate to have DaVita provide me a free bus pass and vanpool services. In addition, I’m also appreciative that Pierce Transit can fit a bicycle rack onto their vanpools. My office also has a gym with lockers and showers. I am allowed to park my bicycle in the garage that are reserved for the more tenured teammates’ cars, guaranteeing a safer place.
Is there anything your company could do better to accommodate your commute option?
For vanpooling, I noticed that there weren’t any incentives for driving the van, other than being able to have the van to get to work. If there were more incentives for being the driver, I think people would be more inclined to start vanpools.
What would you say to your fellow employees to inspire them to try using a commute option other than driving alone in their car?
In retrospect, I’m not the most impressive commuter there ever was. In fact, the more admirable people are the ones who make it possible to use all these different methods to get to work! I would encourage you to take advantage of all the programs and incentives that your office offers. Use that bicycle that’s been sitting in the garage forever so you don’t have to buy another one (but I know it’s a little enticing to get a shiny new bike!) Use the bus so that you can utilize more time to pay bills or connect with a friend you haven’t seen for a while. Sit back and relax when you ride in the vanpool, or take part in the conversation.
If possible, moving closer to the office would definitely reduce time and energy spent on commuting and would probably be my biggest advice. It would open up so many more opportunities. In fact, you’ll probably find those “hole in the walls” that you would have never noticed in the car. “That favorite place 50 miles away” could change to “that favorite place 5 miles away” because of new discoveries. You can stop whenever you see something interesting. Keeping it local will help shops and the community grow. Ever wonder why big shops get bigger?
My wife and I now bicycle everywhere and I’ve noticed how much more smiley she is. This is the same person that thought bicycles were toys. I know I sound like an ad and have so much more to say, but I’m always reminded:
You’ll be one less car on the road, and one happier person who made a positive impact on the world.