Folding Bikes: The Missing Link for More Sustainable Transportation?

Former President Clinton checks out a Big Fish folding bike
Former President Clinton checks out a Bigfish folding bike

Ever thought “I’d love to take public transportation to work… if the bus/train stop wasn’t so far away?” It’s an issue for many mass transit systems: buses and trains can provide transportation for the lion’s share of most of our regular trips… but the first and last miles (or whatever short distance applies) keeps many from taking advantage of these otherwise cheap and efficient sources of mobility. In fact, it’s such a big issue that it’s under discussion at this week’s annual meeting of the Clinton Global Intiative (CGI)… along with just about every other topic under the sun related to human rights & justice, health, and sustainability.

Folding bikes maker Bigfish Bikes is at the CGI meeting, and used the forum as a platform for promoting its own, and similar, products as an answer to the first/last mile issue. It makes sense: using traditional bikes with mass transit isn’t ideal (I know I wouldn’t want to throw mine on one of the bike holders on the front of the bus), but folding bikes allow rider to carry their bikes with them onto the bus or train… without taking up tons of space and uttering “Excuse me” a lot.

But Bigfish isn’t at CGI for a promotional opportunity. Rather, the company announced its own Commitment to Action, which involved putting its money where its mouth is in terms of this very issue. Specifically, Big Fish and parent company Studio Moderna “commits to bring two innovative fold-and-go bike pilot projects to the greater Los Angeles area”:

  • Pilot One: The Bigfish Business-to-Business Folding Bike program will prove that a Business-to-Business approach to management and employees will work to stimulate sale and usage of folding bikes within a mass transit system. This pilot is ready to scale currently to other locations to take advantage of this folding bike program.
  • Pilot Two: Municipalities including Long Beach, Los Angeles and Hollywood will launch multi-use transit hub commuter programs that incorporate the Bigfish fold-and-go bikes along with several other alternative transportation methods.

In short, the company’s efforts will address two populations: companies that want to provide more sustainable transportation options for their employees, and low-income people who need affordable transportation options.

The combination of biking and mass transit strikes me as ideal: not everyone wants to bike the entire distance to work, and many cities still aren’t particularly bike-friendly. But getting to the bus stop may create challenges, also… and “park and ride” is generally only an option in the burbs. I’ll be interested to see how both of these pilots play out.

Use a folding bike? Or combine biking and public transportation to get where you need to go? Tell us about it… and let us know what you think about these pilot programs.

Image credit: Bigfish Bikes

  1. trav

    I bought a folding bike so I could take the train home to visit family (they wont let you take full sized bikes on the train in vt). It was $150 on craigslist. Love it.

  2. Ryan

    I use a folding bike to ride to and from the train on my commute. Without it… I’m not even sure what I would do. I ride a Montague Boston. It’s a full size bike that folds down (not one of those folders with tiny wheels) so I still get the performance of a REAL bike but can easily take it on the train or put in a car trunk / closet. Really a unique design. You should check out their bikes at http://www.montaguebikes.com/

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