Anything Goes Commute Challenge: How to Score It

15 Apr

I flew home from my busy week in Las Vegas yesterday and I’m settling back into my usual routine. Normally that would mean grabbing my bike this morning for my preferred Caltrain + bike commute. But in the spirit of the Anything Goes Challenge I grabbed my scooter instead and pushed off for VTA Light Rail.

Since I’ve only taken tried scooter + light rail commute once, I didn’t think not fair to judge it yet. We’re biased toward what’s familiar and like any route planning, it takes a few times to work out the kinks and otherwise optimize the trip. Plus the Wi-Fi on the train would give me some time to work on this post.


When I started this challenge, I thought I could come up with an equation that would definitively choose the superior commute mode given specific data points. But since we all value things differently, creating a universal equation would be as short-sighted as the usual method of simply considering travel time and cost. We know there’s more that drives our preferences than that. Here’s my personal value equation:

  • Time Wasted Score = overall time – (exercise time up to 45 min) – (50% reading time, 90% if Wi-Fi)
  • Lifestyle Convenience Score = 1 pt for each positive answer (partial credit given)
  • Determining Factor = A particular criteria that drives a particular choice.

Anything Goes Overall

Why didn’t I focus more on cost per trip? Because it’s not what drives me to choose one mode over another. I’m not strongly driven by environmental factors either. Except for driving, they are all equally good in my book.

To enter the Anything Goes Challenge: Take two or more distinct transportation modes to a specific destination you visit regularly (work, school, store, etc). Take the same mode a least twice to give it a fair shake. Collect data, tabulate your scorecard, and assess each mode according to your own value equation. Explain which mode works best for you and why.

Send your summary to by April 30. Please include one or more photos that I can include in a post about you, as well as your scorecard data and your personal value equation. Selected stories will be featured on this blog throughout May for National Bike Month. If you’re private about things, just let me know and I’ll use your first name only or an alias of your choosing.

And while this is a challenge, not a contest, my buddy Richard of Cyclelicious is seeing what he can do to scrape up a prize or two. So you may get something more than just bragging rights for your efforts.

So get out there and scoot, ride, pedal, paddle, run or glide today! Take a watch, take photos and be creative.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Anything Goes, Around Town


16 responses to “Anything Goes Commute Challenge: How to Score It

  1. djconnel

    April 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Fantastic, Janet! Your analysis is excellent. I would disagree slightly only with the “lunch off-site” for riding in, although I suspect my clothing standards for lunch are tilted more towards bike-compatible than are yours. And since the first Caltrain rolls into MtView @ 6:03 am, that early meeting would need to be before 6:20 am to require driving in my case. There’s still reasons to drive, of course, but they’re generally way over-rated.

    • ladyfleur

      April 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      Thanks, Dan, I’m not surprised we have different standards for lunch-time apparel. My problem is it’s hard to ride my road/touring bike in a dress and I don’t want to have to change to bike clothes just to go out. As for the early meetings, call me a wimp. When I have 7am meetings it’s a lot easy to leave home at 6:35 am than at 5:45.

      By the way, do you still do your running commutes? I’d love to feature your commute story which I’m guessing has a run vs bike vs VTA element.

    • Margaret

      April 16, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      “There’s still reasons to drive, of course, but they’re generally way over-rated.”
      LOL, the only time I drive to work is for the office blood drive. Donating and then doing something active never bothered me when I was younger. But now, when the nurse says to avoid heavy lifting or exercise for the rest of the day, I listen!

      Ladyfleur, I like the challenge idea. I’ve been toying with the idea of walking to work one day (4.5 miles o/w) and then take the bus home. Like you, I’m a wimp when it comes to waking up earlier than necessary. Currently I get up at 5:15 to bike into work.

      • ladyfleur

        April 16, 2013 at 9:24 pm

        Margaret, I’d love to hear your story for the challenge, especially if you walk to work. At 4.5 miles, it would take you 90 minutes, right? That’s about the distance to my previous job but I never considered walking it.

        Many years ago, I walked 40 minutes to my first day at an internship in Berkeley, CA. I was so nervous about waiting in the wrong place for the shuttle I decided it would be better just to walk it!

  2. Margaret

    April 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Yep, 90 minutes is about right, although the last mile is all uphill…might slow me down. I might have to do a little training first 😉 If I actually follow through on the challenge, I’ll be sure to send you a story.

  3. Matt

    April 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    How do you calculate costs per trip? For car only, gas cost is easy. But do you add in other things, or do you use a cents-per-mile cost? How do you get $0.55 for “bike only”?

    I recently moved, so I am 1.5 miles from Light Rail, which can take me to Caltrain, which drops just two blocks from my office.

    • ladyfleur

      April 21, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      For the car cost I used the Federal government’s reimbursement rate for business expenses, which is currently 56 cents/mile. It includes gas, maintenance and depreciation, but it’s still less than other estimates I’ve seen which are above $1/mile.,-Medical-and-Moving There’s no standard reimbursement for bikes, so I had to get creative. I found a site that put it at about 10 cents/mile with cars at $1.20/mile. Since their car estimate was double the standard, I halved their bike rate.

      That’s great that you have good transit with your new move. Will you walk to Caltrain, ride a bike or scoot?

      • Matt

        May 1, 2013 at 8:03 am

        I rode to Caltrian (Tamien) for the first time yesterday. About 5 miles each way. Weather was perfect. Cherry to Curtner to Guadalupe River Trail to station. Didn’t take bike onto the train. Instead, I bought an eLocker card (a whopping $0.05 per hour!) and stored my bike at the train station.

        It was warmer in the afternoon, and after the return home I had a HUGE sweat mark diagonally across my chest from my messenger bag strap! Luckily, it didn’t happen on the way to work. Riding in work clothes…. I was definitely the exception based on the other riders I saw. I can’t figure out how to carry work clothes/shoes in a separate bag; it’s too much to carry. Maybe take about 3 sets of clothes and just leave them at the office?

        Maybe I’ll get a scooter and take that to Light Rail (2 miles) on hotter days and ride that to Caltrain. It might be worth the extra $4/day.

      • ladyfleur

        May 1, 2013 at 8:10 am

        Matt, if you can get the messenger bag off your back you’ll be a lot cooler. Your back doesn’t get any wind to cool you off so having a bag there adds a ton of heat. Do you have a bike with a rack?
        The scooter could work, but I find I get as warm on it as on the bike.

        I’ve never used the elockers. Need to try it. By the way, if you have a two zone or more Caltrain monthly pass, you get a free monthly VTA pass.

  4. Margaret

    April 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    I did the challenge and sent my results to the e-mail you have listed in your post. I received a reply from ‘Lady Flowers’ advising me that I have the wrong email address. It’s the same address listed in your post above.

    What is your email address?

    • ladyfleur

      April 25, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      Yikes! I’m so sorry about posting the wrong email. It’s relatively new so I screwed it up.

      The correct email address is << note the 500

      I just fixed it in the post so hopefully others won't have the experience you did. And thank you so much for entering the Challenge. I can't wait to read what you did.

      • Margaret

        April 25, 2013 at 4:52 pm

        Lady Flowers will have some interesting reading if others did send.
        I’m sending email shortly.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Ancestral Pathways LLC

This site features a genealogy blog about the Ville Platte Louisiana area African descendant families of Frank, Jason, Denton, Ruben, Leday, Laughtin, Joseph

Jubilo! The Emancipation Century

African Americans in the 19th Century: Slavery, Resistance, Abolition, the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and the Nadir

Grits & Gumbo

Southern family stories with a dash of spice

Granola Shotgun

Stories About Urbanism, Adaptation, and Resilience


Feminist reflections on fitness, sport, and health

madeonmyfingers and design

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

The Independent Bike Blog

A blog for bike shops


A fine site


Living the urban/bicycle life

South Bay Streetscape

Exploring Santa Clara County's urban limits

I'm Jame :)

what's on my mind: food, fashion, marketing, cities, tech & more

Let's Go Ride a Bike

Adventures in city cycling

The Backpack Objective

Exploring with kids in the outdoors and in homeschool

Shop by Bike

How and where to shop by bike in Silicon Valley, California

The Empowerment of the Silent Sisterhood

The blog of the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation

%d bloggers like this: