State Employee's Bike and Bus Commute - Chris Havel Profile

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Chris Havel doesn’t let heavy traffic spoil his commute.

In the early morning, Havel pedals a bicycle for 12-minutes to reach his job at the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation, 725 Summer St. NE in Salem.

Havel, a resident of south Salem, serves as the state agency’s assistant director and manages communications, policy, research and marketing.

When the workday ends, Havel hangs his bike on the rack of a Cherriots bus and enjoys the ride home on public transit. His personal vehicle, a truck, never leaves his driveway until the weekend when he’s running errands.

Why he rides the bus

The state worker said his reasons for using Cherriots are about “60 percent convenience and 40 percent savings.”

For Havel, riding a bike to work and taking the bus home eliminates the hassle and expense of parking a car. He also figures it’s faster for him to bike to work than drive and find a parking space.

“I get to sleep in another 10 minutes, get up, have my toast, hop on my bike and end up at work,” Havel said.

In the late afternoon, Havel avoids the perils of bicycling in rush-hour traffic by riding the bus. Havel is particularly safety conscious after a motorist in downtown Salem struck his bike a few years ago, catapulting him through the air.

“When the traffic is really tight, I am on the bus,” Havel said. His ride home on Route 21 is a 10-minute trip. His commute ends with a quick bike ride.

Time on the bus also gives Havel a chance to unwind. He sees the same faces, day-after-day, on the bus and often talks with other passengers.

“You form a community and it’s rude to ignore your peeps,” he said.

His advice

Try taking the bus once a week, Havel said, and see how it goes.  Riding public transit requires more planning and patience than using a personal vehicle, but test your assumptions before deciding that riding Cherriots is incompatible with your schedule, he said.

As for Havel, he’s saving money by driving less. Besides savings on gasoline and parking, Havel’s motor vehicle insurance bill has dropped by about 30 percent because of driving habits. His truck is so rarely used that it only needs an oil-change once a year. 

--Michael Rose

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