Biking to work vs. taking MUNI
by Dan Nazarian
In a town with more cars per capita that New York City or even Los Angeles (yeah, really!), our MUNI system has a lot going for it. It zips tens of thousands of people daily around a city dotted with massive hills, all without the ear-scarring screeching sound BART is plagued with. Plus, the metro cars were designed by Pininfarina, the Italian firm that designs Ferraris and Lamborghinis. That doesn't translate into the metro cars looking too marvelous themselves, but it sure does sound cool.
That being said, how do MUNI travel and biking compare? Here is a first-hand comparison by me. Who am I? A five year office-monkey who gets downtown by bike under regular circumstances, and by MUNI in cases of treacherous weather and brutal hangovers.
Day One: It is bitter cold outside. I can see my breath. Am I going to bike today? No. Thank God for MUNI on days like this. I walk out to Carl & Cole at 8:20 AM. In my pocket: my TransLink card, the new debit card for Bay Area transit (two word review: Get One). Two minutes later, the train approaches. Right on! But wait, it's so full nobody can get on. No problem -- I'm out here early and I can catch the next one. 6 minutes later: Here comes another train. Woohoo! Wait, am I seeing this right? This one is completely full too? Am I in the Twilight Zone?
As I wait again for a third train, the day is off to a tense start. When it arrives 8 minutes later, I and the rest of the panicked horde squeeze in, and it's a tight squeeze. It's nice to be finally on my way, but things aren't exactly rosy. The TransLink scanner is out of service. I'm packed like a demented sardine between a man's backpack, a girl's elbow, and the wall. Off in the distance (2.2 feet away) someone has a hacking cough. Oh man, am I going to catch a cold again? I just had the flu two weeks ago and it was about as pleasant as listening to Limp Bizkit for 2 weeks straight through 99 cent headphones that you impulse-buy from Chinatown. I finally get to work, but not before spending 5 agonizing minutes stuck in metro gridlock in the tunnel between Montgomery and Embarcadero, standing next to someone who decided to fart. Oh, and I got to work late.
Day Two: It's a beautiful day! I hop onto my Marin Bobcat and head out the door at 8:40 AM after eating some breakfast -- some granola and a bunch of honey I squeezed from the bottle directly down my throat. People laugh when I do that but it tastes good. Much of my ride to work is entirely downhill, so I'm just cruising and seeing some great sights: the beautiful Duboce Bike Mural and a bum fight, among other things. I roll up to my building at 8:54 after 15 great minutes of the wind whisking through my hair. I know that's a cliché, wind whisking through someone's hair, but it sure beats the discomfort and uncertainty of public transportation.