Planning for contingencies

Practicing using the bike and bus racks on the May 2015 Year of Yay ride.

Practicing using the bike and bus racks on the May 2015 Year of Yay ride.

An oft-stated concern among those who exclusively drive to work is that they need access to their vehicle in case of an emergency. But several local services—and a touch of gumption—can help you handle the unexpected when your car isn't at the ready. Employ several of the following strategies to really ease your mind and finally make it possible to ride-not-drive to work!


Guaranteed Ride Home / Taxis

MORPC's Guaranteed Ride Home program allows anyone who carpools or vanpools, walks, bikes or rides the bus to work a 90% (!) taxi fair reimbursement in the event of an emergency that requires them to leave work quickly, or after hours. Register for free in advance (using the link above), keep the reimbursement voucher on hand and use the service up to 4 times per year!

Bike & Bus


What it lacks in speed, COTA's Bike & Bus service makes up for in safety and reliability (think: mid-day blizzard + not having to bike home + not having to ride home in a car!). Buses are there for you in terrible weather and when you need help to extend an almost-but-not-quite bikeable journey.

Car share

car2go service area

car2go service area

car2go, Columbus’s car share program, offers a lifeline for the active commuters who roam within a few miles of downtown. Become a member by paying a onetime $35 signup fee and get 24/7 access to smart cars located throughout the city—for just $0.41 per minute! You can use car2go to go anywhere you like, as long as you end your trip in a designated "home zone" parking spot.


People who like you and know what you're up to in life are usually thrilled for an occasion to help when you hit a snag. (No really, they are!) So, to help them help you: think through the circumstances that would require you to get somewhere quickly—it's probably a shorter list than you were expecting—and, before anything goes awry, draft "Team You".  Present each team member with what could be asked of them, in what circumstances, and have them commit (or not) to doing That Thing You Might But Probably Won't Need. Create redundancy on your team by having 2 or even 3 people willing/able to give you a ride, pick up your kids, stay late or leave early, etc. After a commitment has been made, check in periodically to find out if anyone's circumstances have changed, and to notify them if yours have.


If your place of employment has a Wellness Committee, propose that they coordinate an informal network of colleagues willing to support others' active commutes by being emergency contacts. This could be a simple project that launches a wider conversation in your workplace about how to be bike friendly!


It may not be a "plan" to rely on the generosity of your acquaintances, per se, but in a pinch it's possible that a desperate plea will yield fast results from someone you half forgot existed. It's worth keeping social media in your bag of tricks for dealing with unfortunate surprises.


Hopefully this post helps you create a multi-pronged strategy to handle contingencies car-free. Join us to support content like this, and ride with us to chat up fellow cyclists about how they manage their crazy bike lives.