Thursday, September 26, 2013

Commute Update

Week #2 of the challenge has flown by! This week was a little less adventurous than week #1. I carpooled with some friends this week as we traveled for our jobs and telecommuted one day. Great ways to save money, use less gas, and improve productivity!

I stopped into one of our local bike store this weekend to ask how many of their customers commute from roughly where I live to downtown where I work. There are actually quite a few; however, most don't bike the entire 20 miles, but park at their store (~ 5 miles away from downtown) and ride the greenbelt. I wondered to myself if this was in the true spirit of commuting to work? It would burn more calories through exercise and be a nice ride, but probably not save a lot of money and maybe just a little bit on gas. According to Bicycle Universe, it take only 13 extra minutes to bike that far, so my commute time would be roughly equal. I wonder how many more lbs of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions it would save? I've thrown down a challenge to a co-worker to bike the greenbelt with me into work. We'll see if this happens!


Telecommuting- 17.9 lbs of greenhouse gases saved for the week
Carpooling-we traveled 300 miles in the carpool, so rid -sharing for the trip saved 198.4 lbs of greenhouse gases and saved ~$20

Total savings for the past two weeks- approximately $60
Total GHG-333 lbs. produced
Total GHG saved-234 lbs.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I wish there was a grease bus here

Usually my mornings consist of a picturesque tour of the concrete jungle. Retaining walls, exit ramps, merge lanes, the continual hum of the engine behind my playlist of choice. Driving the interstate everyday is just depressing, no other way to put's not the Appalachian Trail. Afternoon gridlock and freak-outs to get there in time is a norm that makes me visual cortisol being expelled from some poor jaundiced gland in my body. 

Today wasn't too bad. 

Yes, I almost missed the first pick-up because I had to drive to the park-and-ride and managed to hit every school zone and red light on the way, but in the end I made it on time by a hair. I had the bus to myself for the first 15 minutes. I found out that there are some commuters that work downtown that ride in. There are also a lot of students that ride the bus to the university. I didn't have to worry about anything except for the content of the book that I started. I listened to my playlist and the next thing I knew I was there...about 50 minutes later. It normally takes me 20 minutes, so yeah I lost some time; however, I got to work the same time I normally do since I left earlier. Two observations, I felt like I was transported back to my college years in some ways. Maybe it was the Greenpeace book and REM I was listening to. Maybe it was the carefree nature of not having a car and pulling the chain to request a stop and walking into work that made things feel different. Second thought was how I imagined drivers. It was almost like this western sense of "I have a car, therefore I should drive".  I also realized that I could've picked the bus up closer to my office if I would've looked up at the bus stop signs. I've been noticing more of bus and bike signs the past three days. That's kinda cool. It's like I am learning how to navigate my city for the first time. 

Final tally for today-18 lbs of greenhouse gases saved! $3.71 saved on gas, which pretty much was negated by the bus ticket price. Half a gallon of gas saved. It appears that the monthly total will tell the truth.

If you think you know your city, try something different. Change your point of view and rediscover how to navigate it aside from your norm. 

I'm going to call the bike shop. I'm pretty sure these folks have it figured out. I'm pretty sure that they have a different view than the retaining wall and the tales of the Rainbow Warrior. I want to hear their stories and to be honest I want to see this commute from that point of view.

Chillax in the tube

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's on...commuter challenge

I feel pretty good about my personal efforts for selecting sustainable products and I try my best to implement activities at home where I can conserve water, recycle, and use less energy. Transportation, I'd have to say is my weakest link.

So... over the next month I will participate in various commuting options to and from work and will be reporting my challenges and surprising finds here on my blog in an effort to improve my understanding of ecofriendly options and the cost and emissions of driving. The Smart Trips Commuter Challenge program challenges communities and businesses  to explore alternative forms of commuting that includes mass transit, biking to work, telecommuting, and carpooling.  I'm so on with this...except for the fact that I live 20 miles away from work. I'm committed to try a few different modes this month including the bus, telecommuting, and carpooling. If I can convince my neighbor down the road to bike with me... we'll give it a try. Might take all day, but I'm ready. 

This seems simple enough; however, I quickly learned that because of my commuting distance it will require some real planning on my part. The city where I live doesn't have a subway and the bus system runs within what I can determine is maybe a 15 mile radius...a problem for this suburbanite. I have no problem navigating and jumping on a subway. I've used buses in many cities in the US, Japan, and Europe, but what I found out about my city is that this will take some I walked down to the bus station to look at the schedules and discuss routes with a transit authority. I have three options, none of which involve me being picked up even remotely close to my house. I'm going to have to either drive or bike 8 miles to the nearest bus stop and then take the local in. It's going to take an hour to get to work once I get on the bus (I'm packing my Greenpeace biography to read on the way, ha). 

I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. 


My eyes are already open. 

As I walked back from the bus station to work, I started noticing more bike path signs throughout the downtown and bicycles parked out front of buildings. Downtown is really biker friendly! I'm starting to think that there is a whole bike-commuting culture that I've never hung out with before! I hope to find out who these guys/gals are and that they'll share some secrets with me. We have a ton of bike shops and as an outdoor recreation, my city has great options. Question suburban commuting an option? Suicidal? I'm trying the bus first. 

I get to log my mode of transportation daily on the Smart Trips website and it immediately calculates cost and emissions. This is where I hope to see how I measure up. In the two days that I've driven, it's cost me $18 and I've produced 85 lbs of greenhouse gases. Yikes. Time to get commuting.