2.06.2011

Adventures in Commuting


According to the Texas Transportation Institute's 2010 Urban Mobility Index, the average American is delayed 34 hours a year by congestion. It appears that around these parts, half of that took place this past week: I was adversely affected by traffic, and I didn't even step foot in a car. Here are my adventures in commuting from the past week:

Monday - Easy. Too much snow on the ground to contemplate biking, so I took the kids by foot and bus to their schools, and Amy helped by picking up Aaron, which meant I could just walk home and grab Jada on the way. Taking the bus is much easier in the morning than the evening. See below.

Tuesday - Ugh. I thought I left work early enough to walk to Aaron's school, piggyback him to the bus stop, and take the bus to Jada's school before it closed at 6. When we arrived at the bus stop at 5:35, I was a little nervous. There's two lines that come every 10 minutes, so you'd think the average wait would be five minutes. But during rush hour, paradoxically, the wait is longer, because the buses stop at every stop and also because they are full and so sometimes zoom by and make you get the next one. Sure enough, we wait 10 minutes, and then the 21 zooms by. In another three minutes, the two 42's arrive and the second one stops for us. It is now 5:48, so we have 12 minutes to go a mile, get off, and walk 50 feet and up a flight of stairs before we are officially late. The bus ride takes 15 minutes.

Wednesday - Screw the bus, I'm taking matters into my own hands and using the trusty bicycle. I am helped, strangely enough, by the school delays. Leaving two hours later means I miss the morning rush hour, which allows me to ride in the street instead of the bike lane, of which most is iced or snowed over. Coming home is dicier, as I have to basically wait until all the cars go, and then I can ride on the street after them.

Thursday - The waiting is worse today because the traffic is worse. Normally, in stop and go, I zip through on the bike lane. But because most lanes are blocked, I have to wait like everyone else. Again, we are late in picking up Jada.

Friday - Mercifully, traffic is a little better, and even the weather has cooperated, as some of the snow has melted so a little bit more bike lane space is available.

Who knows what the weeks to come will bring. If you recall, the big snow volume last year was in February. So we've got a long way until commuting doesn't require checking for school closings or not knowing whether biking is possible.
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