Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Commuting Heaven and Hell


Guess which one this is...

A coworker was telling me about his terrible former car commute in LA, 1.5 to 2 hours each way, parking lot mode, to cover 26 miles on the 405 or something like that. That is, without reservation, my idea of hell on earth. I would be driven to heights of creativity, and physical exertion, to do ANYTHING to avoid three hours plus per day trapped in a car in a simmering, polluted, barely moving parking lot, to move my 4000 pounds of metal 26 x 2 miles. No no no.

Compared to my bicycle commute, above (for example). Twenty-five minutes of pure bicycling pleasure in the open air, sunshine, and as fast or slow as I please. Heaven.

10 comments:

  1. I can't believe to what ends people will drive to their jobs. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I'd live somewhere else for half the pay, just to be able to commute less and have time for exercise and for the family. What kind of life is 5 hours of commuting? It's ridiculous. Yes, hell it is.

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    1. It's a life out of balance, in my opinion, in exactly the sense portrayed in the film "Koyaanisqatsi".

      http://www.koyaanisqatsi.org/films/koyaanisqatsi.php

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  2. Wow that is crazy. My ride is getting quicker for me.

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    1. While at the same time most automobile commutes just get slower, and slower...so let's add more lanes, yeah, that will do it...

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  3. Your coworker could actually have biked his route in the same time, with all the attending positives. Why don't people do that?

    I have a friend living in Bangkok whose wife "drives" (if moving so slowly can still be called driving) her car the 3km to work every morning, which takes between 45 minutes and an hour, each way. It's a status thing for her, but it baffles me anyway.

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    1. jt: "why don't people do that?" That's the $64 billion question right there.

      I'm starting to struggle even when people ask me "is it walkable?" since to me that means is it less than two miles, but to most people it means "less than a block else I will drive and search 10 minutes for parking". Which I have no other explanation for other than deeply engrained sloth and laziness.

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  4. A lot of people in the Boston Metro area end up making these really long commutes because house prices for an "american dream 3 bedroom house with big kitchen, yard and garage" are so ridiculous that you have to go a long way out (some people commute from New Hampshire or Rhode Island!) to afford them on a normal salary (which is why we live in a small condo).
    It would make me crazy to do that in a car, although a lot of people do it on the commuter rail, which wouldn't be that bad. I like the flexibility of the bike though, which you don't have on a train schedule.

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    1. I always like to ask the long commuters if the formal living room they never use turned out to be worth the cost. And I have some experience with Park and Ride on the DC metro, with the "park" portion having a nightmare lack of available prime car parking space that would be easily obviated if more commuters made the trip to the station by bicycle rather than car.

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  5. Hmm, when I had a 20 mile commute, my quickest time (and I'm not a real speedster) was about an hour and 20 minutes. That is about as fast as the 2 hours for 26 miles. Whatever I suffered from at that time, stress from slow traffic while trapped in a car was not on the list. Well, except on those days I drove into work due to weather or laundry exchange. Which is one reason I like my new commute. While I have gained weight with the 7 mile commute, it has been over a year since I last drove to work from my suburban home.

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    Replies
    1. I had a conversation with a coworker yesterday and demonstrated how a 14 mile commute on the hypotenuse of a triangle on a bike path can be faster than the 20 miles in traffic on the freeway on the A and B side of the triangle. At your pace it would take just over an hour to cycle the path. The 20 mile freeway route takes longer than that. QED.

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