Auto Manifesto

January 29, 2009

Getting Around

On Tuesday I rode my bike to work like usual. It was the first snow of the year. Traction was nearly as good as usual in the densely packed snow.

The next morning, however, things had iced over. I may have been able to ride but didn't want to chance it. So I decided to drive. But when I saw the old pick up I changed my mind. It was under a couple of inches of solid ice, the bed was empty (poor traction), and the ground all around it was an icerink. Didn't want to move 3,000 pounds of metal. It probably would've taken 20 minutes to get it out of the parking lot for a 10 minute drive.

So I considered my other options which were to walk or run, take a cab, car pool, or take the bus. Of all those options I chose to walk which offerred the most predictable travel time. Certainly I was glad I had made the move to be close to work.

As far as I remember, this is the first time in a year and a half (550 days?) that I could not ride to work. In other words, I plan for rain but I don't worry about something of little consequence that rarely happens here such as snow/ice.

Shorter trips mean more options and less variance. It's a 10 minute bike ride or a 40 minute walk to cover the 2 mile distance. I can ride any where within about 10 miles at 5 min/mile pace, and walk anywhere within about 4 miles at 20 min/mile pace.

Can you predict with as high degree of confidence what your travel times would be when driving? In densely populated areas it's doubtful. And that's where it becomes stressful.

So I spent 40 minutes walking to work each way. But you know what? It was totally relaxing. And when you look at it from the perspective of commuting, it wasn't even much time.

My tire tracks from the night before:




My point is you probably don't NEED a car as much as you THINK you need a car. Certainly cars can be useful but too often we think they're the easy way out and depend on them far more than we should.

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