Aaron Jones, Associate Director for Community Affairs for UCSB’s Associated Students, commutes regularly from his home in downtown Santa Barbara to the UCSB campus. Each day, he travels the same route, but his trip isn’t in the comfort of his own vehicle. As part of a one-car family, Aaron spends the majority of his commute on the bus or on his road bike.
“We don’t need two cars. I don’t need to drive.” Using public transit and biking has been the most economically viable means of transportation for Aaron, but he also considers it easy and fun. He saves hundreds of dollars every year on parking alone and is cutting out the other expenses that come with driving a vehicle on a daily basis.
Aaron bikes about 12 miles to get to work, where he stretches, showers on campus, and changes into work clothes. “It’s just a beautiful ride; you can’t ask for a better place to live, where you’re able to commute to work by bicycle almost all times of year.” Plus, he thinks better, feels more positive and confident, and has more energy overall when he’s biking. When he’s not riding his bike, he’s on public transit. Taking into account the walk to the bus stop, the bus ride, and the walk to the office, he figures the commute takes roughly the same amount of time as it does by bike.
Aaron started biking at age 5 and he distinctly remembers his training wheels, but it wasn’t until more recently in his life that biking began to play a bigger role. In 2002, his housemate mentioned that he would be participating in the AIDS Ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles and asked Aaron if he would be interested. Aaron thought of his housemate as a “much more committed rider,” but joined him in training anyway. He purchased additional equipment, became more serious about cycling, and “actually got a helmet!” Nowadays, Aaron is always equipped with the usual biking gear ¬- helmet, shoes, gloves, etc. — but also brings a repair kit with an extra tube, CO2 cartridge, tools, and a snack in case he starts to feel tired.
Aaron’s family is also involved in his bimodal commuter lifestyle. It can be challenging when it comes time to service the family car, but usually there aren’t any usage conflicts with his wife Sara. “It works fine because during the week, I don’t need to drive.” With a tag-along attached to his bike, he takes his daughter to school. She enjoys the rides with her dad, but at age 6, Aaron acknowledges she may not be thinking about the environmental effects of biking versus driving. In the future, Aaron and Sara plan to continue being open with their children about why they have only one car and the benefits of biking and exercise. “It’s ironic that the body needs to expend energy in order to give energy.” By exercising, Aaron notices how much more energized he feels. “It’s somewhat paradoxical, but it’s true.”
Over ten years have passed since Aaron decided to take biking more seriously, and he admits that creating an alternative transportation routine is an ongoing, evolving process, but it is something he truly values. He recognizes that biking gives him a healthy appetite and more patience because he simply has more time to think and process while he rides; he even considers biking a form of meditation. As a PhD student with two kids and a full-time job that sometimes requires him to be on campus early in the morning and late into the evening, it’s not always easy to find a ride or catch the most convenient bus. Still, he recommends making the switch, particularly for those who are physically able and living in Santa Barbara.
“It’s not a race. Just enjoy being on the bike and the ride; it’s not about setting any records.” For him, it’s about getting regular exercise, decreasing his carbon footprint, and starting his day feeling well-energized and invigorated.