Promoting the Joys of Carfree Life in the USA
(Since February 2006)
Gee Carfree USA, thanks for asking.My commute is about 25 minutes, by bicycle (or 30 by bus on rainy days.)It is nearly a straight shot from my turn of the century neighborhood to downtown Oakland, CA down a very busy, former state highway that runs through a rough part of town. I dodge delivery trucks, crazy drivers, buses, and the occasional pimp as I meander down a street without bike lanes. One of the unfortunate realities of the inner city is that sidewalks are often safer to ride on than the street. And since few people are walking down them in the AM, sometimes I ride them.Joys? One time a group of schoolchildren gathered at the gate to watch the garbage men do their thing. After the truck made a big noise, all the kids clappped like they had just seen something wonderful. The garbage men went over and shook their hands.It was a moment of urban bliss.My girlfriend bikes to a regional train hub BART, takes the regional train, then converts to a streetcar in San Francisco. Her trip takes about 50 minutes. She loves it because she can catch up on her reading all the way.We have both been carfree for about 4 years now.Life is good, we love not paying car insurance or gym membership.How could it be better? Complete the Streets with space for transit, cars, bikes, and peds.
My commute is a walk downstairs to my office.Joys? The stop in the kitchen for a fancy coffee.Dreads? Sometimes not ever gettng out of my pajamas until 2pm.
While I own a car, it is extremely expensive to drive to work. I live about 3 miles away from work in downtown San Francisco, live in the neighborhood of Cole Valley.I take my bike most days, as work has a bike cage for me to safely park in. The ride lasts about 25 minutes and is mostly downhill. My big dreads are if some motorist is going to mow me down when I cross the freeway entrance on Octavia, but this has not happened.The return trip is about 45 minutes, mostly up large hills. I no longer need to go to the gym!Cost: $10/mo for maintenanceOn rainy days I roll the dice and take the train to downtown, which on a good day is a zippy 17 minutes. The train is often crowded, however, and some times it is so crowded that I have to wait for the next vehicle or two. At least I get to read and listen to music, however.Cost: $45/moI did drive to work for a little bit. It took 13 minutes.Cost/mo: $300 parking + $12 gas + $165 insurance + $300 loan payment
bike. 2 miles. 10 minutes ride to work, mostly flat or downhill, half of which through the Panhandle park bike path. From locking my apartment door to sitting down at my desk, about 18 minutes.Return commute about 15 minutes taking a flatter route.
I ride the company shuttle. yesterday, it took close to 2 hours bc of traffic. It usually takes 1 to 1.25 hours. Today I sat at the back of the bus which gave me motion sickness. I walk 2 blocks to the pick up, and the bus takes me to my office door.The joys: it's free, and I work while I commute. (buses are wi-fi equipped.)The dreads: I wish I could bike to work (which I do sometimes, but it takes 3+ hours one-way). It's too far! (and I'm not willing to move closer to my office.)
My commute is about 80 minutes each way.I travel from 8th and Natoma in SoMa, San Francisco to Mountain View.During that time I walk for about 20 minutes to the Caltrain station. I catch a Caltrain bullet service to Mountain View which takes about 45 minutes. Then a company shuttle picks us up and drives us to our campus which takes between 10-15 minutes depending on traffic.I am very happy with this commute since I am able to do work for at lest the 45 minutes on the train rather than spending 45 minutes-1.5 hours doing the same thing in a car...In the end I get about a days worth of work back per week during the commute. I am so efficient!
I take one of San Francisco's streetcar lines to work. And that is likewise what I dread.SF's streetcar system "Muni" is awful. Muni employees are incompetent, drive slow, and often get out of their trains at certain stops to run into convenient stores. Meanwhile, car drivers rarely follow street pavement signs telling them to keep certain areas clear so the trains can pass quicklly.My commute's time ranges widely, due to Muni's unreliable performance. From 20 to 60 minutes each way.I wish Muni managers would travel to Europe and see how some other municipalities run their great streetcar systems.
NYC, Manhattan. About 55 blocks, or about 3.5 miles. By bike, about 20 minutes. cost both ways: $0 (the bike and locks have by now paid for themselves.)Sometimes by subway, about 25 minutes.cost both ways: $4(Google maps says the DRIVE should take about 12 minutes. Yeah, maybe at 4am. At rush hour, it'd be more like 35 minutes.)Joys: seeing the sky rather than being underground or in a car; and if I have errands, I can get to them in minutes, for free. Dreads: people being able to mess with my bike while it's locked outside.What could make it better: if the cars were forced to drive no faster than 20 mph, which makes all the sense in the world in urban centers. Then I could ride more safely--i.e., in a straight line--and rarely feel pressure to get out of cars' way, which are actually getting nowhere fast.The official limit of 30mph is thoroughly ignored, and even if it weren't, in cities, an actual speed of 30mph asks for death and gets it.
About 30 minutes, usually by bike. My commute is about 4.5 miles from Somerville, MA to downtown Boston. If I don't feel like biking, I use the subway, which is just a few blocks from both my home and my job. Either way, it takes about the same amount of time.
Up until last month, I lived and worked in downtown Manhattan. My commute consisted of exiting my apartment building, turning right 90 degress, walking 125 paces south, turning right another 90 degrees, and walking 50 paces into the door of my office building.But the area became too expensive, so we moved up to the South Bronx. Now I take the express subway for a 40 minute ride.
I live in Madison, Wisconsin and commute from my house near the University to an office near the Capitol -- about 2.5 miles.About 40% of my trip is on residential streets through my neighborhood, and most of the rest is on a bike path that goes along Lake Monona. Finally, I take an elevator at Monona Terrace to get from the lake to the to the top of the hill by the Capitol and my office, and I ride a block or two on a busy street. It takes about 20 minutes.Sometimes I take a longer way home. I go down State St (no cars -- bikes, buses and pedestrians only) to the campus. I stop for a beer at the Union, and then take the Lakeshore Path (mostly unpaved, but generally rideable) about a mile, and then go home through neighborhood streets.Joys: exercise and sunshine, and excellent birdwatching. (For a few weeks in spring and fall, I can expect to see loons hanging out on the lakes. A few weeks ago, I had to slow down to let sandhill cranes get out of my way.)Dreads: The weather can get dramatic. I don't usually mind snow or cold, but sleet blowing in my face can be bothersome. A few winters ago, I slipped on a thin (and invisible) layer of glare ice and banged up my knee pretty badly. I hobbled around, and couldn't bike, for two weeks afterward. How could it be better? There are things Madison could do to make the whole city more bike-friendly, but my own issues are pretty minor.
I work as a computer consultant for individuals, businesses and nonprofits in my neighborhood in Queens, NY. The vast majority of my customers are less than a half hour walk away, and the rest are easily reachable by bus, train or bicycle.
I live a couple blocks from the Braddock Road Metro here in Alexandria, Virginia and commute via Metrorail to my job at Court House in Arlington in about a half hour. However, most days I try to ride my bike and it has to be one of the best commutes in the world. Most of the 9-mile route is along trails or bike lanes and the entire middle half of the commute is along the Virginia side of the Potomac River between National Airport and Rosslyn across from monumental core of Washington, D.C. Picture coming around the corner of the airport in the morning and suddenly seeing the sun rising over the river and the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium in the distance, and then in succession the U.S Capital, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the Georgetown Waterfront. Every morning, depending upon the weather and the angle of the sun provides a different look on each of these beautiful national treasures. On the way home the reverse is true and there is nothing more beautiful than the sun setting on the white marble of these monuments. It’s at these moments, when I get to relax and unwind from a long day, that I realize how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and have such an awesome commute. Thanks for asking I love your site! And feel free to check out my blog at www.commuter.typepad.com.Chris Hamilton
I live in Portland, OR and telecommute for a company in California. My home office is downstairs in our basement. We don't own a car (family of four) and get around mainly by bike, bus, walking and Flexcar when needed.Joys? Picking up the CSA box at the local farmer's market and loading it onto our bike trailer after enjoying the sunshine. Also, dropping the kids off at our school next-door to the house.Dreads? Biking in downtown Portland with the ever-present danger of cars. We use tandem bikes to get the kids around, but it is still nerve-wracking sometimes.
I live in the smallest capital city in the U.S. (pop. 8,000) and my commute to work is a seven-minute walk. I get to walk home for lunch, and all my basic needs are within ten minutes on foot. It's heaven.I've lived this way for over six years now, and can't muster a solid reason to change. My little town has train service, Greyhound and commuter bus service, bike paths, and rental car options. I'm actually saving $ now for the first time in my life. Meanwhile, when I need to drive, I rent, and the car is always shiny and new.Vermont may not be a typical (or easy) place to go car-free, but my experience shows that even in rural states it is workable. You just need some creativity, resourcefulness, and a little sense of adventure. (One day I hope to find a mate who shares the same attributes, but that's another story . . .)
4 blocks for me, which means biking in warm weather and walking in the winter. My commute is short mainly because I deliberately bought a home close to my workplace. That was 17 years ago, so I've seen a multitude of savings in time, gas, and vehicle wear and tear over the years. When I need to work at the other locations of our state agency and don't have to lug big equipment, I ride my bike to 3 of the 4. (Furthest one is 2 miles, but I can use the Greenbelt.)I live in Boise, which has a terrific Greenbelt and a relatively good bike lane system.I spent my childhood years in a suburb which had nothing a person could walk or bike to easily, and will never live that way again. My mother is in the same home after 50 years and when her driving days come to an end, she will be marooned in that house. It's so much better--for all ages--to live where shops and services are within reach by walking or biking.
When I relocated, I looked for a place that was convenient to work, shopping and other destinations. 90 per cent of my travel is by bicycle, the other 10 percent is walking and bus.My bike commute is 4 miles, or about 15 minutes, across the central area of a mid-sized Michigan city. I ride a mountain bike that's been modified slightly for street use. I enjoy winter riding. I get out of work at 11:30 PM, so the return trip is always in the dark, but I'm used to it and actually enjoy the night ride. Part of being carfree is having a positive attitude and a willingness to try new things that seem difficult at first, but soon become second nature.
I live in an inner-ring suburb of Washington, DC. I ride either a folding electric bicycle or a folding bicycle to work. My ride is about 6-7 miles, depending on my route. It takes me 30-40 minutes, with the electric bike being the faster option. I take the bus if it's snowy or icy but that takes about an hour. Fortunately, DC has a moderate climate so snow and ice are rarely a concern.Joys: A perfect parking space (next to my desk), the energy boost I get from my morning ride (much better than caffeine), a feeling of independence, a fit body, minimal transportation expenses, and the feeling of cool morning air. Oh, and it's loads of fun to ride a folding bike. People stop to ask me about it all the time and I love to demonstrate how practical and enjoyable it is.Dreads: Inconsiderate drivers, bike trails that aren't cleared off after snow falls, traffic lights with no pedestrian "walk" button and induction loops that won't detect my bike, and people who try to convince me to stop riding my bike, saying that it's too dangerous.It would be great if schools could teach basic pedestrian and cyclist safety and driver education courses could teach that cyclists are legitimate road users. It amazes me that so many people think I should be riding on the sidewalk.
I live in Brooklyn, NY and commute 1 hour to Queens, NY by train and bus. Although it would take only 25 minutes or so by car, I have no interest in driving. The bus ride is not very pleasant, but it is quick and I don't have to worry about finding parking (which my coworkers spend plenty of time doing).
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