Laura Matson (right), manager of data and business systems for Transit Information, considers herself an e-bike evangelist. Among those she’s helped convert: Katie Roth (left), director of Bus Rapid Transit projects. We interviewed them together in recognition of Bike to Work Week, celebrated May 15-21 with events in Saint Paul, Minneapolis and elsewhere. Learn more about combining biking and transit at metrotransit.org/bike-options.
Who inspired whom?
Katie: I had long been e-bike curious and when Laura introduced me to her Tern HSD, it helped me zero in on the kind of bike that would be right for me. I wanted a cargo bike that could replace most of my car trips and haul all kinds of stuff without being too bulky for everyday commuting and short trips. With Laura’s endorsement, I was ready to take the plunge and buy my own! In my first four months of e-bike ownership, I logged 1,000 miles, many of them with loads of groceries and even a few lumber hauls. My 2023 biking goal is to acclimate my 110-pound Goldendoodle to his bike trailer so we can take more rides together.
Laura: Soon after I got my e-bike, I showed up in Katie’s backyard with a haul from the hardware store, a rhubarb cake, and a bunch of fizzy waters in tow. Within a week, Katie had taken a test ride and was sold on the same bike. I’m an absolute e-bike evangelist!
I have always loved riding bikes but got curious about e-bikes when I had a kid about 2.5 years ago. Daycare drop off and pickup added complexity and considerable time to my commute. The e-assist makes a big difference in being able to haul my toddler around and to make more of my trips by bike. Also, with the e-assist, I arrive at work with enough energy to do my job, then ride home and still have enough energy to chase a toddler.
Why do you choose to bike to work?
Laura: It makes daycare drop-off and pick-up easier, and it’s so fun! With the e-bike, I usually take the scenic route along the river. It takes about 45 minutes each way and is hilly. But it’s just so wonderful. I love seeing people out walking their dogs, and I get to observe the changing of the seasons. Dr. Yingling Fan at the U recently looked at transportation and happiness. She found that bicyclists are the happiest commuters and that West River Road is the happiest street among Minneapolis and Saint Paul resident commuters. My personal experience echoes the research. It makes me so happy at the beginning and end of the day!
I don’t commute by bike year-round, just April through November when the streets are clear of ice and there’s more daylight. I generally take the METRO Blue Line when I don’t bike. I work from home two to three days per week, too.
Katie: Riding to work takes me just over 20 minutes door-to-door. It’s a considerably shorter trip than my transit ride, and it’s even faster than driving on congested days. I’ve long been a Heywood bike commuter, but the best part about switching to an e-bike is that I can ride in my work attire and arrive looking professional and ready to start my day. And it’s a great way to end my workday. Even if I’ve had a stressful day, I know I can decompress on the ride home along the river with an opportunity to clear my head and move my body. Like Laura, I haven’t yet crossed over into year-round bike commuting. In the winter or if it’s raining, I use some combination of the 21, the Blue Line or the D Line to get to Heywood.
How do you use sustainable modes in your personal life?
Laura: I walk year-round for many errands – daycare drop-off, the library, coffee shops, stores, and restaurants in my neighborhood. My toddler loves riding the bus. We take the A Line or Route 74 to go shopping or visit a coffee shop or park. The bus ride itself is a big part of the destination.
Katie: My husband and I have been a one-car household for the last 10 years, which works well for us because we live in a walkable part of Minneapolis. As a regular user of Route 21 for all kinds of work and non-work trips, I’m also really excited for METRO B Line service to begin next year and significantly boost our neighborhood’s transit access!