Just Ask Jack: Bike Pooling?

Here’s an interesting one sent in by longtime reader Phil:

So, this afternoon, a co-worker and sometime bike-commuter and I were talking about riding/commuting and car-pooling. I suddenly thought, why not bike-pooling? This lead to wondering about numbers of riders “bike-pooling” to work via tandems or the likes. People living along the same route to work could “share” a tandem.

I’ve heard of “commuter trains”, where folks gather at a convenient starting point and riding en masse to their job(s), but haven’t run across anyone doing the tandem number. Anyone experienced such a thing? Good idea or not? I would imagine various logistics would need to be ironed out — work start/stop times would have to mesh between the two participants, among other things.

Let’s hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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  1. Wayne January 26, 2010 8:46 pm 

    Years ago, a friend and I commuted together on a tandem on Bike-to-Work day. We were both full time bike commuters and were searching for a way to turn it up a notch.

  2. RL January 26, 2010 11:55 pm 

    My kids and I did the tandem commute for a while. I used to attach a trailer bike to our tandem just so my youngest could ride. We did that every day for a long time. I’d drop them off at school and off to work I went. I had to drive my bike like a car since it was about the same length…

  3. Doug Jesseph January 27, 2010 8:35 am 

    I’ve commuted with people and really enjoy doing that, but the prospect of a tandem is just a bit much. Then again, I’ve never actually ridden a tandem, so I suppose I have no rational basis for my aversion to the idea.

  4. dukiebiddle January 27, 2010 9:58 am 

    If it is fun and you want to do it than do it, but my practical take on this is that carpooling is a huge miserable hassle, but with clearly defined advantages. Tandem cycling would be a hassle to coordinate, but with no clearly defined advantage over cycling in groups.

  5. Phil January 27, 2010 10:52 am 

    Dukebiddle, though it’s not practical for me for many reasons, the idea of “bike-pooling” on a tandem is appealing to me for a variety of reasons: 1) one less vehicle on the road, 2) less maintenance (less use of resources) than on two vehicles, 3) twice the power to get where you’re going means less sweat, and 4) company that’s always in arm’s reach for conversation and troubleshooting if necessary. This is all speculation, but it seem to carry merit.

    RL, I’ve definitely done the “bike-train” thing w/trailer/tagalongs attached. Good fun!


  6. dman January 27, 2010 11:44 am 

    Yeah but what guy wants to be the stroker?

    I car pool almost every day to work. It’s 30 miles one way, so I save a good bit of cash on gas/oil/tires/etc.

    I’d love to get a tandem for me and the wife to ride around on.

  7. Ghost Rider January 27, 2010 12:08 pm 

    Ha…NO ONE wants to be the stroker!!!

    I think the word you’re looking for is “stoker”.

    I’ve done the bike train thing, and also pulling a trailer/rolling my Xtra with my child aboard, taking him to school and then continuing on to work. Any way to mix things up to avoid “commuter burnout” is a good thing…and if someone that I worked with had the same schedule as me and wanted to ride tandem, I’d do it. Hell, I’d even ride on the back.

  8. peteathome January 27, 2010 1:04 pm 

    Not worth the sniggers :-) and wrong on so many levels

    But I think one of the big advantages of bike commuting over mass transit or car pooling is going door-to-door at the time you want, rather than being stuck on someone else’s schedule or having to go out of your way. So tandem commuting would destroy this advantage.

    I often cycle home with other people from work, but we split up to our different destinations.

  9. 2whls3spds January 27, 2010 7:05 pm 

    Couldn’t afford a tandem when the young’uns were around. But we did have a hand me down trail a bike that DD would ride behind dad on, I would drop it at her school and lock it to the bike rack. Then grandpa would pick her up in the afternoon…those were the good old days. LOL


  10. Everett January 30, 2010 9:54 am 

    In cold or bad weather, I regularly car pool with someone. We both happen to live in the same neighborhood and work about a block apart from each other. It also helps that we have similar schedules. So in another month or two, once Detroit finally warms up a bit, we’ll be bike pooling (not tandem though). We found each other through MiRideShare.org (https://mirideshare.org), which can search for other bike poolers.

    Having good conversation is great, but security is another plus. A riding pal is nice when going through some dicey neighborhoods, of which there are many here.

  11. Mike C February 7, 2010 6:19 am 

    For two years now, wife and I have commuted on the tandem, aka ‘bike-pooled’. Was much easier to coordinate when we worked the same hours at the same place, but we still do it when schedules match up well enough, within a couple hours at either end of the work day. Also, I’m now working two miles away, so the toe- clip pedals get removed for my final solo portion. Could leave a beater locked up at her work; could go either clipless or platform to make things easier.

    In any case, it’s a total blast. Coworkers act amused but are secretly jealous. Wife is taller than me, but she insists on stoking.

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