Monday, June 6, 2016
A company in Boston is offering commuters the chance to maximize their time by working out while en route to the office. The BikeBus is loaded with nine stationary bicycles bolted to the floor and equipped with safety harnesses. As the bus moves through town, riders move through a 45-minute spin class.
The bus is the brainchild of husband and wife team Eric and Seema Brodie. When the bus company Eric was working for got bought out, his position became redundant and he found himself at a career crossroads. “We were all sitting around the table with family,” says Seema, “trying to decide what to do with Eric’s knowledge and experience in transportation.”
Eric’s sister mentioned her long commute from Berkeley into San Francisco. “It’s an hour and a half just sitting,” Eric says, “so the idea grew out of not wanting to waste three hours in the car.” They started discussing possibilities for a mobile gym, something that could move through rush-hour traffic, while its occupants stayed active.
“There was some joking about free weights,” Eric recalls, “yoga and Pilates wouldn’t work either, but biking is a perfect fit because you’re already holding on, your feet are clipped in, and bikes don’t take up much floor space.”
Their dream bus became a reality and will celebrate its first anniversary this June. Eric drives while Seema, a former district attorney turned certified spin instructor, leads the classes. Thus far, they’ve focused on private charters. Local companies have hired them to haul workers while getting a workout. The CEO of Charles River Apparel, Barry Lipsett, booked the bus for a group of his employees. He said the ride was about more than just exercise. “It was all of us being together; it was a great bonding experience.”
For the Brodies, the first year of operation has largely been about testing the waters. “This is a prototype,” explains Eric. “Our primary concern was to make sure we could operate it safely and get a good reception before branching out.” During their second year, the couple hopes to develop some specific and consistent routes for commuter use. Says Seema, “Riders would leave their cars at a park-and-ride station, take the commuter rail in, and then take the BikeBus back to the park-and-ride hub at the end of the day.”
Despite their success, the couple has taken some flak for their creation. Seema says, “Outdoor cyclists have mixed reactions to what we’re doing because they wonder why not just ride a bike to work?” But, she says her new venture is focused on helping people who would otherwise be commuting long distances by car.
Lipsett notes that many of his employees aren’t comfortable biking in traffic, but they would be likely to try the BikeBus, which he has reserved for another private charter later this month.
Not all cyclists are BikeBus cynics. “We’ve had some avid outdoor bikers too. A lot of Boston bikers have told us that they train in spin classes in the winter,” says Seema “This is a way for them to get their training in and save time.”
In a world of time-clocks, paper pushing, and Ponzi schemes, the Brodies’ ingenuity and hard work have helped them to create an authentic and enjoyable venture. The couple hopes to continue expanding, bringing a little more health and a lot more fun to the daily grind.
Says Eric, “We’ll ride this wave as long as we can.”