I had to spend several days in Topeka this week. Normal routine would be to drive my car. It’s only a 2-hour drive. But Topeka is on the Amtrak route…and has bike share. And the weather wasn’t supposed to be too bad for January. So I resolved to make the trip without my car. Along with business attire, I packed my bike helmet, crushable all-weather jacket, fleece neck gator and good gloves. In other words, these items again:
All went mostly okay. The run down:
- The city transit system got me from the train depot to my hotel, because my bag was too much to transport on a bike. The Amtrak station attendant was great in helping me get to the right bus stop. The bus drivers were all lovely and helpful.
- Bike share got me from my hotel to meeting each morning.
- Uber got me back to my hotel each evening. (It was dark, the streets are not bike-friendly, and the bike share bikes don’t have lights.)
- The weather was basically great the first two mornings. The third morning was bitter cold (14F), but there was no wind, so I was fine biking in my layers, jacket, and fleece accessories.
- The wait for the 12:29am train home at the end of my stay was several hours of heavy boredom.
Pros of going car-less:
- Daily exercise and fresh air
- Doing something fun and different
Cons of going car-less:
- The time and hassle of adapting to the train schedule
- The time and hassle of researching and adapting to the city bus schedule
- The time and hassle of identifying bikable routes, and then finding out they weren’t so bikeable. Topeka is substantially lacking in sidewalks and bike lanes.
- Unpredictable weather
Will I do it again? Certainly, when circumstances allow for it. Do these alternatives to driving my personal car need to be expanded to be more useful? Yes. All of them. Until then, most of the time I’ll still have to drive my car, alongside the tracks of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.