What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

21 December 2016

Commute Blues

Being as I run in active transportation advocacy circles, I often hear some variation of, "Happy people live near where they work." It's a statement that's easy to agree with.

I'm sure some people manage to have massively massive commutes and still be happy. Some folks use it as a time to listen to audiobooks, or chat with carpool mates, or get work done (PLEASE don't do that if you're the one driving! Seriously, there are a lot of words for that and none of them are good ones). But just judging from the bitter complaint one hears around the office, or around social media, most of us don't really like enduring traffic just to get to work and back.

It doesn't even have to be one of these. Although,
obviously, I'd be pretty delighted if the Cincinnati
buses looked like this.
Because the office of my most recent temp job was on the edge of town, beyond the reach of public transportation, I settled for a compromise: I took a bus about 75% of the way and then called an Uber from there, so I was getting my public transport time (I know, I know, most people don't find buses as relaxing as I do) while supporting the local system, and keeping my Uber bills to a minimum.

Some of my Uber drivers have had a hard time with this.

I know, they want to be friendly and chat, and I mostly appreciate that, unless I'm really absorbed in a book I'm reading. But some of them were just so gobsmacked that I would split my commute between two modes when I could obviously just get a car and get myself to work. One driver went so far as to ask what my monthly Uber bill was, a question I of course did not answer.

All this to sing the next verse of my usual song: car ownership should not be required to be a full participant in society. There's no reason anyone should be horrified that I don't have a car. And yet, that's the system we've built--driving everywhere is the norm, cost and health outcomes and 30K+ deaths per year be darned. There are plenty of reasons to have a transportation options, not the least of which is easing the strain on a family's budget at a time when plenty of families are struggling to stretch their budgets just a bit farther. There are plenty of people who don't like public transportation (or bikes, or walking), and that's fine, but it's also no reason why options can't be available to everyone else. No one wants to stop you from driving yourself, if that's what you want. But no one should be forcing me into a car, either.

Come on, cities. It's time to give options a chance.

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