I ride to work with Hitler
A coworker of mine has posted on his cube an old WWII cartoon
of a driver with a phantom Adolf Hitler in his passenger seat with the slogan "When you ride ALONE you ride with Hitler. Join a Car-Sharing Club TODAY!"
I live in the city of Seattle, just north of downtown. I work 25 miles
south of this city, just off of "the I-5." [Random aside:
As someone not from Southern California, I always get a kick out of hearing someone say "the" I-5 or "the" I-405. You never hear anyone say "the" I-95 (except for Sheryl Crow, who has obviously lived in LA too long).]
Anyway, despite an active corporate carpool program and the fact that there are almost a dozen co-workers who live within a 2 mile radius of my house (including the owner of the aforementioned cartoon), I do not carpool. I feel very guilty about this fact. The problem is that these car poolers keep a very strict 9 to 5 (or in their case 7 to 4 with an hour lunch) schedule. I do not. They like the fact that the carpool forces them to leave, thus supporting their "work / life balance." They say that it makes them work more efficiently. I do not work efficiently (if you haven't yet figured that out by the bloggage that occurs during normal working hours). Even if it weren't for blogs, I would be inefficient. They also say that if push comes to shove, they can, and do, take work home. I don't take work home. Part of this is due to principle: work is for work, home is for not-work. Part of this is the fact that I know myself. It took me over 2 years in college to figure out that I could not study in my dorm room and needed libraries and study groups. Every time I have ever tried to take work home, it has sat in a bag making me feel guilty, not getting done. I stay at work until I'm done, then go home. So here I am at my desk, 2 hours after the carpoolers have gone home, having arrived a little before them.
Like other cities, Seattle has a good bus system
. I have taken the bus around town several times, when I am familiar with the route and have plenty of time to get where I'm going. I have taken the bus to and from the airport a lot. It works great, and you can't beat the price tag ($1.25 during non-peak hours), but what would be a 20 minute drive is more like an hour trip, what with the waiting, tranferring, and humping luggage. My commute right now, driving against the traffic, takes about 40 minutes each way. That adds about an hour and a half to my work day. Bussing might be possible, but I'm not willing to spend 3 hours a day commuting.
Seattle is an extremely bike friendly city. Growing up in Virginia, it would have never occured to me to ride my bike anywhere past the age of 12. In college I would wait almost an hour on the weekends for the bus that would take me the 1.5 miles across campus (what was I thinking!). When I lived in Newport RI, I had a friend who would bike the 3 mile trip to work, and we all thought she was nuts (she went to school in California
, after all). When I moved to Seattle (for the first time), however, I bought my first bike since I was a kid and started commuting to work on it.
I love commuting by bike
. I fully subscribe to the line in the movie Singles "life just looks better from a bicycle." It does. Just riding through the streets of town, you see more interesting people and things than you would notice from a car, or could get to on foot. It's exercise that you don't even realize (except when you're climbing hills) you're getting. When I lived in Seattle and commuted by bike, I did all of my traveling by bike: errands, movies, bars, etc. (You can drink a little more, in my opinion, before cycling home than you can before driving home). There is the slight downside of arriving at your destination sweaty, but there are ways to addess that issue.
Do I need to explain why I don't commute to work now?
I don't really bike my errands anymore, either. I live on the top of a steep hill, and I've been a little too intimidated by the return trip to venture out on bike much.
So, for now, Hitler is my passenger. One of these days I'm really going to find a better way. Maybe a job downtown...
Updated 8/1 with links, thanks to Kris