Thursday, June 10, 2010

You can't avoid traffic in a car

Hate to pick on the TAB's Jim Walker, but he asks this morning how to avoid crosstown traffic -- ruling out biking as an answer. If you are in a car, you cannot -- by definition -- avoid traffic. In a car you are traffic!

Hop on a bike is one answer. But, it isn't necessarily the right answer for everybody. (Though it's probably the right answer for more people than are currently biking.) Find public transportation. Demand public transportation. Car pool. Request off-peak work hours or work-from-home options.

There are car trips that are unavoidable. But, not all the car trips that make up the worst traffic.


Anonymous said...

Very pithy. And where are we supposed to park when we get to this public transportation? Earlier posts indicate that you don't want parking at Riverside, and you want to severely limit long term parking not only in city centers but would like to see meters in residential areas too. I'd love to stop my commuting. But your simple answers are somewhat naive for those folks that don't have higher level jobs, and to top it all off, it appears you're actively working against providing a way to make your own suggestions realistic. Thanks for your support.

Sean Roche said...

Why does one have to park to take public transportation?

Nathan Phillips said...

Your frustration is apparent. I sense that you would love to try a different way but feel hamstrung. I used to feel exactly like that, and mentally ruled out biking for a long time. Now I bike regularly and am constantly amazed at how my thinking and perspectives evolved on what is possible and practicable. Yet I still get that some commutes simply are not realistic by bike or public transport. The question is how we can make changes so that they become real options. What if a bus could pick you up closer to your home, so you wouldn't need to drive and park to access public transportation? Or could a bike get you to the train efficiently and safely?
Can you share how long (in miles and minutes) your current commute is?

MamaVee said...

as Sean and nathan note above, it's not for everyone, but if we each think outside the box we can find more ways to depend on cars less.

My husband works from 6-6 and commutes to Hyannis, Brocton and Beverly. He kind of needs his car. Fine right. but when we are able to think creatively. I who travels in a tighter circle choose train and bus and bike when possible. Just this monday I too the bus and train from newton to somerville with two kids in tow. We met up with the husband in somerville and he drove the four of us home. If I was thinking less creatively I'd most likely drive to somerville and then we'd have to take two cars home for the four of us...

As for parking at the T- if all of us physically able to ride a bike biked to the T there might be a lot more parking for those that can't.

Anonymous said...

Do you folks just not work in the winter? After a snowstorm? In a downpour? It's 20 miles to a T stop. No showers at work. Commuter rail does not run often enough to get me home in time for family responsibilities. You miss one train, and that's the end of the evening. So, driving to a T is seems to be the only alternative to driving the whole way. Why does one have to park to take public transportation? That your modern day equivalent of "Let them eat cake"?

Anonymous said...

Why does one have to park to take public transportation?

Because there isn't public transportation within walking distance of everywhere.

Because one is disabled and can't walk or bike.

Because one has to work multiple jobs just to pay the rent and pick up four kids from two different schools in between and there isn't enough time in the day to walk.

Because one lives in New Hampshire but the only job he can find is in Boston, so he must commute daily.

Because the T is so unreliable that one needs a backup plan so he won't miss work and lose pay (or get fired) when the T isn't running.

Because it's -25 degrees out with wind chill.

Because one lives in a neighborhood where it is too dangerous to walk home from the T at night.

Nathan Phillips said...

Yes, I bike in the winter, and when it rains. It is actually kind of exhilarating.
The Ride offers car rides to disabled. No one is advocating bike riding or walking for the disabled. Indeed bikers feel a kinship with the disabled as we are very much 'disabled' compared to motor vehicles, at least in terms of sheer power and momentum.
You list a set of social ills that prevent us from enjoying and contributing to quality of life. The question is whether it is the way it is and we accept it, or we envision a better way and try to reach it. What is really screwed up is a social system that forces you to travel from NH to Mass to make a living. But our society structures things to promote just this kind of slavery to our transportation and economic systems. Local means nothing in our system. And then the most downtrodden are the ones who become the most ardent defenders of the system because they are just able to survive by enslaving themselves to it, and fear loss of livelihood by any change to that system. Sorry for going off, but I think I am on your side.

Steve R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve R said...

It's absolutely true that combinations of mass transit, walking, carpooling and biking won't work for everyone. In fact, in the present layout of workplaces and residential areas, they'd probably only work realistically for about a quarter to a third of total trips.

But for the rest of people still in their cars, that would mean far, far less congestion.

So I don't get why people who really are stuck driving are so against attempts to reduce congestion.

Anonymice: if there are genuinely high barriers to your biking, walking, and taking the T, then by all means, drive. But I wish you would see the sense in attempting to get those who don't have such barriers to leave their cars at home when they can. If we succeed, your drives will be less congested.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, I do agree that we're on the same side and I'm sorry if I came on a little strong, but I felt that I needed to point out that I and many others don't drive just because we want to, but because, as you said, our society is set up in a way that forces many of us to drive.

My only realistic options for getting to work are either to drive to Riverside or Alewife and take the T, or to drive all the way. I am not happy about this. I miss the days when I was younger and lived in Brighton and I didn't even have my own car because it wasn't necessary.

I will join you in celebrating the day when this system changes.

Herzog said...

Just want to pitch my voice into the fray.

I hate the T and wouldn't wish it upon anyone. It's slow, unreliable, expensive, and degrading. I haven't ridden it (alone) once since I started cycling.

With that said, a folding bike can be a good way of getting to the station. Clearly, it won't work for everyone, but I noticed that many people who "park and ride" live within two or so miles of the station. If you get Brompton or Bike Friday, you can fold it in under 30 seconds and take it with you on the train.

I prefer to ride my bicycle everywhere. Rain or snow. Despite what many people think, neither of these interfere much with riding.

There are actually very few rainy days in Massachusetts and you can prepare for them fairly easily. Basically all you really need is an extra outfit stashed at work.

Cycling in the winter is easy as long as you live in an area where the roads are plowed. As long as you cover your face and wear warm gloves, and maybe thick socks on freezing days, the cold is not a problem. If you're worried about ice, get studded tires. It's hard to cycle during blizzards, but usually easier than driving.

The best thing winter riding is that you get to spend time time outside even when the days are short. The second best thing is that you can ride as hard as you want and never sweat!

Last winter, I rode my bicycle every day (except for two days when I was sick). Didn't run into any problems.