This blog contains 1000 posts. Posting to Blogger with such a large archive has become unwieldy. Also, your blogista, who is sewing a kesa, is not writing much at present. She has ceased adding new posts. Still-active links are here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Park-your-car report

New Flyer/Vehicle Technology Centre/Lane Transit District

So, Chile has opened a new challenge to park your car and find alternatives, and I'll report on my results here.

For eight years, in the 1980s and early 90s, I rode buses in winter, and a bicycle in summer, twelve miles round trip to work. We had a good-sized garden and poultry, but, yah, it was city living, and the alternatives were available to me, at low cost, and for some time, we were that increasing rarity, a one-car family.

Our vehicle, which Beloved used to get to work, was a Chevy Cavalier wagon, bought used, which got decent mileage, and, hey, there were five of us.

But I liked using my bike option best. My route was through the neighborhood, across Main, up to E street, down through town to D street, onto the riverside bike path, through the park, and across the footbridge. Six miles, and about half of that was off-street, with majestic cottonwood trees, blue herons, and the mighty Willamette. I put a large basket on the back of the old ten-speed, and, in season, raided an abandoned orchard on the way home, bringing with me ten to twenty pounds of pears, apples and plums at a time.

Then we moved to the country.

Stony Run Farm strikes us as The Place To Live, but as we still both work in town one of the issues with our location is that the two possible ways to get there from here have narrow shoulders, no bike lanes to speak of, very little in the way of public transit options -- we've been trapped in Must Have Two Cars mode. And assuming we could find an affordable electric vehicle (hah!), the best lead-acid ones can maybe do forty at best, and the traffic balls up behind you wanting to do sixty-five.

So, I drove. A Saturn wagon getting 40 miles a gallon most of that time, but it is what it is. Round trip: about 30 miles.

We've been here seventeen years. A few years back, I began a cost-cutting and simplification program, and the steps have been as follows:

1) No more parking sticker. There are 25,000 people on my campus and about 4,000 parking places. It was over 100 dollars a year for the sticker. So I elected to do without, finding all-day parking about ten blocks from the library. this entailed walking over two miles a day, often with an umbrella and soaked feet, but, hey, it was good for me. Round trip in the car was now 26 miles. This went on for about three years.

2) I picked up a bus-route index and studied the maps, routes and times. If I drove over the mountain to a park-and ride, there was a bus I could catch that would drop me off right at work! My work I.D. is a free ride for me, covered by my employer's payroll taxes. So I became part of the community that boarded the express every morning at seven o-clock, arriving at work just before eight. And vice-versa in the afternoon. The drive to the park-and-ride: round trip was now 10 miles.

The park-and ride has its issues. As the recession heated up, windows were broken on a number of the cars there, and the interiors ransacked. And then the transit district, needing to cut costs, eliminated the route. So:

3) I studied the route book again, and asked my boss for a change of work hours. I now have a 1/2 hour lunch. During the last school year, a route has been available to me from only 1.5 miles from my house; a bus came down the highway from way-y-y-y out there, and picked me up at a stop by the grocery store in the middle of nowhere. Round trip in my car was now 3 miles.

But all good things come to an end. When college is not in session, neither is that route. Aw-w-w-w.

4) Armed with my new work hours, though, I was able to get back to the park-and-ride, which has quieted down a lot since I was last there; my bus commute is still less than an hour even though I change from the regular bus to the BRT diesel/hybrid bus at a regional station. BRT is quite fast, having its own dedicated route and stop-light protocols. One doesn't know as many of one's fellow passengers, and one has to be ready to hop when it's time to change buses. Feels very urban, like a subway system. So I'm back up to a car commute of 10 miles a day. Sigh ...


5) I retire in October. That should get my commute down to 0 miles. Still have the vehicle, but a) it's paid for and doesn't look bad parked, and b) I'm building a bicycle trailer for the occasional purchase of a straw bale from our local feed store.

So, that's my park-your-car report. Got yours?


Related Posts with Thumbnails