The Sustainable Entrepreneur: Bike Shares + Transportation Accessibility
Today I said cheers to my first ride on the Ford Go Bike, and cheers to another step in efforts to make life as an entrepreneur more attainable, realistic, and efficient.
Since finishing up my Master’s program in May, I now split my time between Oakland and New Jersey running Medisi Ventures; a Social Impact Firm focused on the sustainable development of the Cannabis Industry. As a startup, the goal is to not be a start up forever; to bootstrap effectively, scale efficiently and sustain increasing levels of success.
I sold my car just before I moved to NY in 2016, and with that I relinquished having to pay a car note, or for gas, insurance, and other yearly maintenance expenses associated with the vehicle. Perfection! I was moving from the Bay Area, a place where having a car was the more convenient option, to NYC; a place where public transportation is the most common means of transportation; even across socio-economic boundaries. When you move to a place like NYC, you adapt to not having a car and come to rely so much on the accessibility of trains, buses, and other metro-transportation systems. Even with options like Lyft, Uber, or Juno, a subway ride with a transfer or two may get you to your destination faster and on-time.
Here I find myself, spending an extended amount of time in The Bay. Over the past two years, visits hardly extended past a week; during which time renting a small car was a viable option. However, I am now in a new phase of visiting — longer than a week, but not long enough for buying a car to make sense; yet long enough to the point where Lyfting EVERYWHERE is not the wisest use of funds that could be used to help scale my business. So I thought about my options and decided that I wanted a bike. Initially, I just wanted to buy a bike. It would run me about $300–400 from my local bike shop; potentially including the addition of a basket and durable bike lock. Cool. Not a bad investment. There was also the option of renting a Go Bike. Similar to Citi Bike in NYC, Ford’s Go Bike service is faster than walking, cheaper than a taxi, and locally becoming more accessible as it expands to the neighborhoods people are traveling to more and more frequently.
I will note that today was not my first attempt at Go Bike. I tried to take a Go Bike home from dinner last week, but ran into technical issues trying to undock a bike. After multiple attempts, I gave up and ordered a Lyft. A decision that only cost me $2.72. But today I had another opportunity to try the bike share system on my way back from a meeting in West Oakland. I was short on time, so I took a Shared Lyft to my meeting for $6.22. Total ride time was 18 minutes, plus the 8 minutes it took for my Lyft to arrive once confirmed; 26 minutes total. From dock to dock, Go Bike took 27 minutes, came with an amazing ride through the streets of Oakland, and only cost me $2.19. I also burned 145 calories. WIN.
I will also note that I am conscious of the fact that I am dealing with Bay Area weather in August. Most days are pure bliss. I’m currently in California for this extended time because the monsoon weather on the East Coast was killing my vibe + energy levels, so I decided to come a bit early. The point is, as an entrepreneur, transportation accessibility is a critical component of success. As a business coach, developer, and consultant that works with individuals and companies to turn ideas into a sustainable reality; as well as someone that quit her stable, salaried job with benefits, to pursue what she was passionate about full-time, I’m all about doing what is necessary to get to the desired destination. Being conscious of resources that allow you to lower expenses in one area to be able to invest in another is valuable.
As a native Oaklander and social justice activist, I am also sensitive to the effects of gentrification. Across the country, from Oakland to Brooklyn, one of the first signs that the demographics of a neighborhood are about to experience a shift is the introduction of bike lanes. Soon following are your craft brew bars, overpriced brunch locations, metered street parking, increased traffic, and the feared rent increases. Some are inevitable components of the cycle of growth; however our dated political systems are historically slow at understanding effective implementation of projects meant to increase economic vitality. Nonetheless, adding bike sharing to my options of bus, BART, and Lyft to get around a busy + increasingly expensive city is not only appreciated, but a win when it comes to the ability to get where I need to go in the most cost + time efficient manner.
Transportation sharing options are not just great for bootstrapped entrepreneurs, but a viable alternative for anyone looking for a potential place to trim some fat in their expenses.
The Sustainable Entrepreneur is a Consumption Chronicles series; providing stories, tips, and other resources for the entrepreneur living in a changing + increasingly expensive world.