Three Days in L.A. Reminds Me That I Love My Commute

BlogHer Original Post

traffic jam Technically, I don't really commute-unless you consider walking across the hall with laptop in hand and plugging it into its docking station. It's not as though I've never commuted -- I just haven't done it for the past 10 years. The past few days in L.A. have made up for my decade of decadent non-commuting.

With many roads closed because of the fires, trips that normally would take 30-40 minutes are taking  90 minutes to two hrs. But even on days when there aren't fires paralyzing the city, commuting on the 405 or 101 is not a day at the beach.

Maybe its because I am no longer used to it, but sitting in a car for three hours in bumper to bumper to travel from Calabassas to the OC created an anxiety and stress level that I haven't experienced in a long time.  It reminded me of winter driving in Minnesota when we are in the midst of a blizzard --except yesterday we didn't have winter driving conditions, just the landscape of black plumes of fire dancing atop the mountains as we headed south to the OC.

It was exhausting and it made me appreciate that I can get to work without having to check It also reminded me of how much time many of us spend sitting in our cars inching along highway systems that weren't designed for the workout they are getting.

Suburban Homestead has been thinking about commuting as well and has all sorts of plans to change her commute.

Probably the area where my actions are most out of line with my values is transportation. I have a long commute to work. I use public transportation for half of it, but it is not enough. I could bike the three miles to the nearest bus stop, but that would add an hour a day to my commute due to the bus schedule (I currently drive to a train station about 15 miles from my home. Far, but still only about halfway to my job.). That would be the environmentally correct thing to do, but it would really eat into my time with my family, and my time to garden, cook, and weave. And I would have very little time in the morning before I had to be out the door to bike to the bus stop. That is a real consideration if we get chickens. I would have little time to tend them. Still, I spend part of that extra hour a day exercising, which is not really time with the family (unless we take a walk together). Bicycling would let me exercise as a natural part of my daily activities. I would like that. I want my life to be more integrated, not so piecemeal.

So I will start riding my bike more often, and get into good enough shape to commute by bike at least one or two days a week to start. If I can persuade my employer, perhaps I can work at home another day a week. That will cut my gas usage down by 60%. If I leave my laptop at home (I am nervous about carrying it on the bike.), and get into better shape, I can go car-free, as far as my commute goes.

Then all I have to do is figure out errands. We are two miles from a grocery store - bike-able, except for maybe bringing back dog food. I’ll try small errands first.

The best thing, though, would be a job closer to home. Or at home. I’m working on it.

I just finished reading Chris Balish’s book How to Live Well Without Owning a Car. It had some really good ideas for being car-free or car-lite.

Like many working moms who have a long commute,Susan's Journal recently addressed the issue of getting that call from day care saying your child is sick and you need to pick her up.

the daycare lady told me, but she was complaining of a headache and had been laying down for a while. I work more than an hour away from home, and this is the one instance that the drive really, really sucks.

One thing that road warriors have in common is they find creative activities to do during their long drive.Susan is no exception.

I’m trying something new–I’m going to the gym in the morning. I get dressed in my gym clothes and pack my work clothes in a gym bag, drop the kids off as early as I can at school, then head to my gym. I spend 45 minutes or so there, then hit the road for work. As you’ll remember, I have a long commute to work; so yesterday and today I conducted experiments, and figured out I can completely change all of my clothes while driving. Not sure how much more than that I want to tell you, but it’s not as complicated as it sounds, and I have tons of time to do it.

In Great Britain, the second annual National Commute Smart Week begins this Sunday. Relentlessly Positive says the campaign is urging bosses to help workers "commute smart."

Workers in the UK already have the longest average daily commute in Europe: some people add another working day each week in travel time. I know how that feels, I used to spend three hours a day travelling so that's another two days sitting on buses and trains a week. I hated it and boy am I glad not to be at the mercy of public transport every day now...

Add to this the misery of traffic congestion and overcrowded public transport, and now the prospect of traveling to and from work in the dark for many months, it is no surprise that many succumb to depression and despondency. Not to mention 'public transport cold' - yuk.

Arrived back at the Minneapolis airport around 10 o'clock tonight. Was in my car by 10:45 and managed to drive from 494 to62 west to 100North up to 394East and then glide ,through downtown Minneapolis and barely saw another car. Home Sweet Home.

How's Your Commute?


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