Lea esta entrevista en español
We’ve all been there. Late to school. Late to work. Or late to pick up a child at school. A long-time bus commuter, Francisca Flores didn’t want to be late anymore. So she changed her primary mode of transportation. We sat down to talk with her about her transportation experience. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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Metro: How do you move around the region?
Francisca Flores: When I’m running errands, I take the bus because I can carry groceries on the bus. I usually bike to work, because I can get there faster [than by bus]. And on days when the weather isn’t great, I take the bus.
Metro: Why did you choose the bike as your main mode of transportation?
Flores: Sometimes because of traffic the bus isn’t that helpful. I have a schedule to keep but, because of traffic, the bus doesn’t allow me to be on time where I need to be. The bike is more helpful because I can take different fast cycling routes.
Metro: How long have you been taking the bus?
Flores: I’ve taken the bus for 16 years. But because of changes in my life, I started to use the bike more. When my daughter started to go to a different school, that’s when it became a little more difficult for me to be on time. The school even gave me a warning because I’d be late. So I had to look for options, and I chose the bike.
Metro: How old is your daughter now?
Flores: She’s 12.
Metro: Have the two of you bonded by biking together?
"Gresham is a little far out, but let’s say if we had gotten tired or something happened, we could have loaded the bikes on the bus. That’s an option we always have."
Flores: Yes, definitely yes. My daughter has been biking since she was a little girl – since she was a student at El Jardín de Niños at Buckman Elementary School. The bicycle is a part of us. Sometimes I’ll ask her, “Should we bus, bike or walk?” And she’ll say, “Let’s bike.” One summer day, we biked to Gresham. We brought oranges and water along for the ride. I hadn’t made that trek before. I knew it was far, and I didn’t think we’d bike it all the way. We made some stops. We ate our oranges under a tree, and then we kept going. Gresham is a little far out, but let’s say if we had gotten tired or something happened, we could have loaded the bikes on the bus. That’s an option we always have.
Metro: What are the advantages of bike commuting?
Flores: Commuting by bike is inexpensive and a little faster, of course, as long as you bike safely. So it saves time and money and – I don’t want to say effort – but it’s also relaxing. It’s also healthy. I enjoy biking so much because I get to enjoy the scenery around me. I love seeing the seasons change: spring, fall, winter, and, of course my favorite, summer.
Metro: What has surprised you about biking?
Flores: When I decided to start biking, it took me 45 minutes to get to work. Then after some practice and before I knew it, I was biking to work in 30 minutes. I enjoy that. It’s as if I’m accomplishing a goal in getting to work faster and on time.
Metro: What are the disadvantages of biking and taking the bus?
"When I’m biking, sometimes there are stretches of my bike route that aren’t adequate. It would be great to expand bike routes, because some of them aren’t safe."
Flores: If you’re not waiting for the bus exactly according to the bus schedule, you miss the bus and have to wait for the next one. That’s a disadvantage because then I’m late. Or sometimes I want to load my bike on the bus, but the bus already has two bikes, so there’s no space for another bike. And when I’m biking, sometimes there are stretches of my bike route that aren’t adequate. It would be great to expand bike routes, because some of them aren’t safe.
Metro: In what ways are they unsafe?
Flores: There aren’t bike lanes on certain streets. Sometimes I bike on the street, and a few other times I’ll bike on the sidewalk. Someone walking once said to me, “Hey, this sidewalk isn’t for bikes.” I thought about it and he’s right. It would be great to expand bike lanes.
Metro: How do you anticipate your transportation needs evolving?
Flores: I relied on the bus. I rely on the bike. I’d like to buy a car to move around according to my family’s needs in the future.
Metro: What do we need to have a better transportation system than we have today?
Flores: In the future, I’d recommend expanding bus service lines. In some places, the buses don’t run frequently, and so we need more bus lines. As far as bikes go, well [it would be great] to expand bike lanes.