Multi-Modal Transportation: Car Plus Bike Plus More

By Greg Kagay
(Adapted From

Folding bikes can be the solution for traveling from public transit to the office. Map: Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

A popular transport term today is “multi-modal”. Although this term encompasses cars, it reaches beyond traditional car-centric travel and emphasizes other transport “modes”. Those modes including buses, ferries, subways, light rail, commuter trains, and more. The term also encompasses combinations of modes, such as “park and ride”.

Of course, the bicycle, too, is a mode. Like the car, and unlike most other modes, the bicycle is personal transport, not public transit (bike share programs notwithstanding). For short trips in good weather, it is hard to beat a bicycle, which can go just about anywhere.

But traditional large-wheel bicycles have multi-modal limitations. Generally, they are great for getting you to one mode or another, but large-wheel bikes do not travel with you easily as you utilize other modes. This is where folding bicycles shine, because you can take them with you easily on virtually all other transport modes.

A folding bike, therefore, can be the thread that ties together multi-modal outings. Think of folding bikes as the master keys to your multi-modal transport universe.

Of course, you do not need a monthly transport pass or an aversion to cars and oil companies to ride a folding bike with pride. Owning a car does not disqualify you from profiting from folding bicycle transport. To the contrary. Regardless of whether you have access to other transit modes or not, a folding bicycle complements automotive-centric travel brilliantly.

When weather permits, a folding bike is a fun way to link together day-to-day errand running. You can keep a folding bike at work for lunch-runs and other short errands. Or,  leave it in your car and take it everywhere as a recreational option when you need to link together multiple stops within the same outing.

Taking a folding bike on vacation is transformational as well. There is no better way to cover more ground while at the same time seeing and otherwise getting to know a new town. What’s more, folding bikes take up less space at home. For these reasons — turning traditional thinking about bicycle ownership upside down — a folding bike may be the best first and/or only bike for most people.

One more important point about folding bikes as desirable transport: they are fun to ride. Cast aside a need for speed and bicycle-based transport becomes not only comfortable but also a transcendental experience. Want to feel young again? Get a fun bike.

In the brief period I have owned my folding bike I have heard it described many ways: dorky, funky, odd, quirky, toy-like, weird, whimsical, etc. Ultimately, however, some of the best words I’d use to describe it are: clever, fun, invaluable, useful and versatile.

Greg Kagay lives in Fredericksburg, Texas, and edits He is a backer of Curbing Cars.







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