Category Archives: freeways suck

Day 353-359: MLwC and Just Days Away From My One Year End Date!

I’ve been racing around so much lately that I haven’t been able to post much, but I’ve got a lot on my mind–lack of posts doesn’t equal lack of thoughts.

First, this project over in Poulsbo is still keeping me tied to my car in a way I thought I’d gotten away from. But I do understand that the use of my car to get to work doesn’t really mean I should change any of the other rules and parameters I set in place over the course of a year:

  1. Combine as many tasks into a trip as possible; keep task oriented trips to a minimum
  2. Use bike, bus or ped as much as possible to do tasks or meet people
  3. Plan time accordingly (that’s where I’m running into problems now)
  4. Keep car usage limited to must-use or special use whenever possible
  5. Enjoy a calmer state of mind by avoiding traffic and the need-for-speed automatic thinking that happens “behind the wheel.”

I felt last week a familiar sensation that I’ve associated with quitting any addictive habit. It goes like this: I’m driving more than I want to and because of that, I should just give up and drive all the time.

I know that sounds inane. I know. But tell the truth: have you not told yourself the same thing about habits you’re trying to change before? For example, say you’re trying to quit eating so many sweets. And so you set a rule–no more sweets. The next day you go to work and it’s someone’s birthday or it’s a holiday or something special, and there are sweets. You don’t want to be rude so you have some…

let them eat cake

Ughh. And then later, you just go, oh hell, now that I’ve had a small piece of cake, I should just forget about trying to not eat sweets and Bam! you’re back in the habit.

But it doesn’t have to work like that. You can flex, you can begin again, you can stay on course for the longer haul. And that’s what I’m trying to do now. Not giving up on the usual things like tasks and such, and in that way, I create space around the issue of my current commute. Without space, I can’t think creatively.

Next week: a review of turning point moments in my year long project.

Daily Stats:
Car: 82 miles (about 10 tasks, thank goodness)
Bike: 5.5 miles
Ped: approx 3 miles
Bus: zero: I’m missing the bus!!

Days 269 thru 272: MLwC–it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Beach Drive Western Exposure

So, after many days of dreary gray skies and buckets of rain, today burst forth with brilliant sunlight, crisp blue skies and puffy clouds rolling across the horizon. I took a ride to Alki and to run my errands and stopped to take a snap of this view–too bright, actually, so I put my polarized sun glasses over the lens and got this result. Not bad for an iPhone camera and shades!

I’ll be driving my old car this coming holiday quite a little bit which will blow my stats for the quarter–they were already suffering compared to summer when the livin’ is easy. That’s just the way it is and will be around the holidays. I don’t mind though; I know I’ve radically changed my thinking and relationship to driving and cars and the whole dang mess. Driving now is for necessity and for special events–it’s just not an every day occurrence anymore and that, for me, is revolutionary.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving (except for the turkeys–I wish them a luckier incarnation next time around ;-))–plenty of laughter, love and good food, veggie or otherwise!

 

Daily Stats: (Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue)

Car: 11 miles (2 peeps, 4 errands)
Bike: 10 miles (3 errands)
Ped: coupla miles
Bus: 0

Day 264-266: MLwC and a Seattle Transit Rider’s Union?

I continue to be intrigued with the idea of a bus and transit rider’s union, which I touched on in a recent post. What would a transit rider’s union do and why might it be a good idea here in Seattle? In Los Angeles, the bus rider’s union has a voice in most if not all transportation plans and strategies, making sure that everybody has access to effective, useful, and affordable mass transit.

This means taking on large, well funded, contractor friendly boondoggles like light rail propositions that serve a tiny sliver of the population at the expense of the transit riders. It means making sure the routes serve all groups and that rates remain affordable. It means maintaining a holistic view of alternate transportation options to the single-occupant vehicle muddle that most urban areas struggle with now.

What might a bus and transit rider’s union do in Seattle? It would help the city hear the Voice of the Transit rider, as well as all the other voices that are shouting for traffic relief. That voice and presence at the table would maintain the perspective that effective routes and timetables, reasonable rates, safe buses and bus stop areas will help Metro Transit attract and keep new riders, thereby reducing SOV traffic and improving the environment to boot.

I’ve been so intrigued with this idea that I’ve started a wiki to begin tracking resources regarding transportation, and will add more categories to it as time goes along. Please feel free to add any resources or start new pages as you see fit–the them is personal action and the environment.

How can we start a Transit Rider’s Union in Seattle? I’m no organizer, for sure, but I’d be happy to help and to learn from others who have ideas about this.

Daily Stats (Mon, Tue, Wed)
Car: 20 miles and 3 tasks
Bike: 0
Ped: 6
Bus: 0

Days 258-259: MLwC and Roads, Revisited, Rejected, Reviled

Thanks to Carless in Seattle for surfacing the above vid, a commercial which actually made the hair on my neck tingle with anxiety.

I’ve posted a couple of times about Prop 1/RTID referendum here in Washington; of course we had the election yesterday and it looks like the proposal is going down in defeat, if not flames.

I’ve been watching the comments on the news articles in the local papers and thought several of them were worthy of repeating here, as I think sometimes we underestimate our citizenry and they’re ability to rationally think through an issue. Of course there are lots of posts that do not represent the most rational approach, but hey. You can’t please everyone.

Posted by lowerwallfrd at 11/7/07 12:28 a.m.

I really wanted to vote for Prop 1, it just did too little for too much money, I had to vote no. I hope we have a similar and better planned bill next year. Light rail to Tacoma is stupid. I think Sound Transit is a nightmare waiting to happen. There are no additional funds that should be given to those pretenders.

Posted by cj in seattle at 11/7/07 3:53 a.m.

Perhaps it would help if we had smaller $$ for more specific spending goals. I think the size of this and the fact that it was a multiple project package scared people off.

Both my self and my husband ended up voting for it even though it size of it made me think on it a while. I recognize the importance of the responsibility of one generation to those who come after.

I think though that if we could get a package for just mass transit that it would take off nicely with voter support. There has been so much corruption in government that the public has become jaded by it. They don’t trust it anymore. Its important to public servants to recognize this.

Posted by jungleal at 11/7/07 5:51 a.m.

Prop 1’s flame out is worth getting up out of bed early to celebrate. Let’s have the media bring to light every penny of gas tax hike spending. Bring back those “Your Nickel at Work” project signs, and how about some “Your Another 9.5 Cents at Work” signs and some “Your Original 23 Cents at Work” signs and a breakdown of where the 18.4 cents per gallon of federal gas tax is going. If the Alaskan Way Viaduct and 520 bridge are so fragile and dangerous, why are they not receiving more immediate gas tax money??

Posted by rwb77 at 11/7/07 6:33 a.m.

For affordable light rail: build it like many other cities are at much less cost, at-grade, not elevated or tunneled. Build it on existing rights of way, like highways and abandoned railroads. The gold-plated Sound Transit version is great for contractors but bad for taxpayers. And for a route, how about a simple loop around the lake? Start at Southcenter, branching off from the current elevated line, go to Renton, follow the old railroad right of way north to Bothell, around the upper end of the lake to Northgate, then past Husky Stadium into downtown. Don’t try a potential engineering nightmare with tracks across the lake; dedicate both floating bridges to Bus Rapid Transit; those are the two corridors where it would probably be most feasible.

For highways, spend dollars first on safety and maintenance (remember a certain bridge in Minneapolis this past summer …..). It is not WSDOT’s responsiblity to enable people to commute 40 miles one way at 60 mph on the same road at the same time as 100,000 other people. That’s what happens whenever new lanes are approved: developers come in with new housing and new strip malls and by the time the lane opens, it’s as gridlocked as the older lanes.

Posted by SleeplessInSeattle at 11/7/07 7:31 a.m.

Proposition 1 is NOT a comprehensive package. It is mainly an Eastside improvement project, with a small fragment thrown in for the rest of the area in an effort to gloss over what it really is. Is there anyone out there who is really dense enough to believe that light rail to Mercer Island and Bellevue addresses this area’s major transportation problems and environmental concerns, much less does anything to repair the roads and bridges in most need of improvement?!

We already voted in and pay an exhorbitant gas tax in this state for what was supposed to fund road/brige repair and improvement projects. At the time, 520 and the Alaskan Way Viaduct were specifically mentioned as projects that would be completed with that gas tax money. Senators Murray and Cantwell also got federal disaster money to help repair 520 and the Viaduct. Almost immediately after those two money sources came into fruition, our new governor began looking for ways to legally divert the Viaduct portion of those funds to 520. So, mark my words, 520 will be rebuilt whether Proposition 1 passes or not. Proposition 1 was just the boondoggle they were looking for to build the new 520. Now they’ll just have to use the money that was already budgeted for it, plus impose tolls. Gee, what a concept. And, yes, I certainly was thinking of my children, and their children. . .when I voted no. They would be the next generation paying for this mess, and they too would have no money left to devote to projects which would actually improve the quality of life in this area.

It’s interesting that when push comes to shove, the vote was anger directed at the government, and bewilderment over taxes already set aside for projects that are not being done. Very few of the comments really take on the larger issue of Transportation Alternatives or the issue of global climate change. Those issues are likely too big for most people to actually apply to a vote on roads. Nevertheless, and for whatever combination of reasons, we have wisely elected to not get sidetracked building roads to Redmond as a weird panacea for the rest or our many, many transportation problems.

Daily Stats: (Tue, Wed)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3.5
Bus: 0
Many remote conferences, email, vid conferences and other alternative connectivity.

Days 246-251: MLwC and the wild fear of no exit

Whoa–this blog got away from me for a few days. Like a LOT of days. I’m not sure where I’ve been….

I’ve been thinking a lot about the insight I had the other day which I described in 64 miles to mindfulness. Of course, the idea of No Exit has been around in various forms for a long, long time, from Sartre to Pema Chodron. It seems that for a lot of us, the idea of No Escape or No Exit drives us to extremes in behavior and thinking, and I’ve been aware of that in my own jungle-mind since that experience in traffic the other day.

Cars give us the feeling that there is always an escape: we can just hop in our cars and away we go! But it’s not true. The expectation, the hope of that ideal gets us in the car, but the reality is quite different and the jarring difference between the two may be at the bottom of everything from mild irritation and a buzzing disappointment in your brain, to road rage and worse. Cars promise escape, but they can’t deliver–not with all of us driving on the same roads, going in much the same direction.

Perhaps that’s why buses have the sort of stigma they do. They represent the opposite: you’re just going where you’re going. There’s no ideal of Escape. No glamor of hopping in the convertible and heading down the road, all care-free abandon. Could be.

Anyway, I’ve been watching myself and these back-of-the-mind thoughts about Exits and Escapes.

thelma-and-louise.jpg

The other issue I’ve noticed the last couple of weeks is a definite change in car usage, and a definite reason why. In summer, the activities are outdoors, you can walk to the beach, hang out at the pool, run in the park, read a book out in the hammock on a summer afternoon. But as the days draw shorter and the temp drops, my activities tend to be more involved with others, in their homes–dinners, game nights, stuff like that. We move indoors and I, anyway, find I’m driving a lot more. Hmmm.

Daily Stats: (Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon)
Car: 21 miles (dozens of tasks and activities)
Bike: 18 miles
Ped: 5 miles
Bus: 0

Day 233-237: MLwC, roads and more roads

It’s likely true that traffic will expand so as to fill the roads available to it.

I’ve seen some long lonely roads zig-zagging through Texas and there are country roads in every state where you can count the cars that pass in an hour on one hand. But in metropolitan areas, the solution to traffic is always, always more roads. And when that solution is put into place, voila, traffic expands so as to fill the roads available to it. Until it reaches critical mass, and then the next plan is cobbled together: more roads.

The alternative, of course, requires a change in thinking, change in behavior, and change in long term planning. Change, in other words. More roads requires no change whatsoever, it’s more of the same. Where are the leaders who will stand up, come hell or high water, and envision a different approach?

Locally, last year we passed a major bus plan (Transit Now) last year that is rolling into effect over the next 10 years. I see bus ridership going up but tend to think it has more to do with gas than anything else. Time will tell. I’d love to see this work effectively and alleviate some of the dependence on automobiles on the road.

We have a big expensive package for road expansion coming up in the next election that is getting a lot of criticism mainly because it’s not forward thinking enough and bears too many of the solutions that have gotten us where we are now in terms of traffic. That is, a dependence on the car and solo driver.

Ron Sims has come out against the plan. A lot of cross-party dissenters have pointed out its many flaws. And yet it has a good chance of passing. Why? Because the keystone is more roads, and more roads is the “intuitive” answer to more traffic. It’s also incredibly expensive for so little return…which means somebody’s going to make a boat-load of money on this deal if it goes through.

I look at this package with the knowledge that in 50 years, my oldest son will be 80 when it’s paid off. My granddaughter will be 55. Their ability to make public investments relevant to their lives and times will be severely limited by this package. Should I be so lucky, I will use my pension until I am 110 years old to pay my share!

In the RTID, there’s something for everyone who works at Microsoft: light rail, more roads, bigger roads…and light rail running along the very paths that were planned to be supported through the Transit Now package we already bought and paid for. Will it work? Many of the planned improvements won’t even be paid for with the plan and as Sims notes: This roads-and-transit plan just doesn’t move enough people.

Interestingly, the city of Bellevue, the land of SUVS, no buses and little to no walking, endorses the plan lock stock and barrel.

Echoing something Tom mentioned a few days ago on another post about the bicycle question, Carless in Seattle has a nice quote in his header:

Excess demand for roadways during peak hours is the real problem, to which congestion is the most feasible solution.

Meaning: it won’t be until we realize we can’t build our way out of this problem that we actually start to think differently. Tom commented the other day that he takes a certain delight in causing a back up of cars with his bike riding because he hopes it will force the drivers to think differently about creating safe and effective bike ROADS, not just lanes.

RTID is just more of the same. More roads for a problem that actually requires behavior change. In our little berg of West Seattle yesterday, while running our errands, I was again struck by how nicely our hood is growing–to encourage walking and biking traffic. I LOVE, for example, the cross walk in the middle of town that shuts down traffic in all directions and opens up multi-directional crosswalks for 4 minutes.

Let’s try something different for a change.

Daily Stats (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon)

Car:0
Bike: 14 miles
Ped: 6
Bus: 14

Days 225-228: MLwC, One Fell Swoop and Canadian Thanksgiving

In one fell swoop, I have nearly driven half the amount in three days that I did the entire previous quarter. As noted in the last quarterly round-up, I drove a little more than 300 miles total. In the last three days, I’ve driven around town 130 miles–whoa! What’s going on?

On Friday, I had business on the eastside. If one is going to Bellevue proper, there are buses you can take from Seattle, easy shmeasy. Not that many do (‘cept you, Yo!), but you could if you wanted. If you’re going anywhere else in Bellevue, forget it. Bellevue is all about cars. They’ve got plans for more roads that stretch far and wide into the future. Nevermind that the amount of traffic will increase exponentially to fill the lanes available to it, and experiment we’ve all participated in for years and years. But I digress. I went to a part of Bellevue to which no buses come near and every time I go, I drive. That was the first trip.

The second trip was a winter clothes extravaganza. As I’ve noted earlier, the cold and rain and whatever else winter has in mind for us, has come early this year and I’m already thinking, Hey! Let’s move to Mexico! Short of that, more clothes are in order. Last winter I spent good and happy chunks of time in Central America and managed to get through a winter of historic proportions without much trouble…no such luck this year. So, we went all out and headed–along with about 3 million Canadians–to the outlet mall up north. It’s Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

waiting at the Canadian border

While in line with about 150 other people in the Banana Republic, I started talking with a South Asian guy who was holding a spot in line for his family. He was clearly bemused by the whole spectacle of shopping frenzy so I thought we had something in common. He told me he’d waited in line at the border of Canada and Washington for 2.5 hours only to come here and wait in line for the dressing room, for the check out, for the starbucks cuppa joe, for everything.

I said, “wow, so the prices are so much better here?”

“Not at all,” he says. “In fact, they’re about the same.”

I looked at him and said, “Sooooo….?”

He said, “No, we’re just here because then we can go back and say we were here.” I just stared at him. He started laughing, and then the guy behind me started laughing, because he was also from Canada and was there for the very same reason. He had waited in line at the border for about 4 hours. The woman behind him chimed in as well and then they all started sharing which routes were the best and fastest for getting down here and back. We live in a strange world.  It’s like all these people knew there was something insane about what they were saying, but hey.  It’s a Banana Republic World.

Compared to their outing, our little 40 minute jaunt from West Seattle was nuthin’. Got some great winter clothes, too. But it is amazing how the miles rack up so quickly. We ran a couple of other errands while we were out, and then this morning, my partner woke up quite ill with a bad cold so it was incumbant upon me to do the weekly and seasonal shopping…another 25 miles. But now we’re ready: we’ve got enough soup, pasta, fruit, cold meds, wool clothing, oatmeal and bottled water to last us for a while.

Needless to say, I have no illusions about coming in at less than 300 miles this next period. Not with the office project and everything else that’s come up. There’s a funny little urge inside me to just throw up my hands and say, Oh what the hell, let’s get in the car and drive everywhere! It’s raining, it’s awful, what the hell!

But not really. It’s just crazy little voice in me.

Daily Stats: (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun)
Car: 130.6 miles
Bike: 4.5
Ped: 3
Bus: 0

Day 188-190: MLwC and Pay as you go car insurance

First, here’s a picture of my poor neglected darling:

My Car, the subject of my year long project

She’s the star of the show, you’d think she’d be pleased and yet…and yet….she sits day after day, forlorn and lonely, dust gathering, begging someone to please take a moment to write “Wash Me!” and still, no one does.

Well, I took her out for a ride the other day, over to the eastside and she (in her fantasies, if not reality) flew down the road, white line fever for 33 miles roundtrip, returning home just barely breathing hard and ready for more action. It’s not to be my lovely. In this lifetime, you were joined to me, she who does not appreciate your secret Jetta prowess.

Okay, I’m a little cabin crazy. I’ve got a sinus infection which renders me useless for days and days on end. But here’s a bit of news I picked up: Washington state is going to be trying a pay-as-you-go auto insurance program next year. Pay-as-you-go auto insurance has been around in the UK, AU, NZ and other countries for a while, and has not as yet caused the downfall of anything. I called my Pemco agent a while back cuz I didn’t want to pay so much insurance. “I hardly drive the poor darling,” I said. The agent said, “Look lady, your rates are incredibly low as it is–they’re the lowest I’ve ever seen. I’d kill to have rates this low.”

But I want lower. Cuz I just don’t drive much, that’s why.

There’s apparently another PAYG program in Oregon that’s been in operation since January of this year. Read about it here. I signed up for the Washington version; we’ll see if I get selected to participate in the pilot.

Daily Stats (Tue, Wed, Thu)

 

Car: 33 miles (3 tasks, 1 person)
Bike: 0
Ped: approx 2 miles
Bus: approx 4 miles

I would like to add here that I just don’t know why travel east and west in the puget sound area is so lacking in mass transit options, but north and south has more every year. East, West, she said as loudly as possible!

Day 183-187: MLwC and what are YOU doing?

This remodel seems determined to eat my life.

But I digress. Carless in Seattle is an interesting blog that attempts to untangle the very very tangled mess that is Traffic in Seattle. A recent post takes apart a ballot measure (RTID) for tackling traffic issues. His bottom line findings:

I spent ninety minutes this weekend reading through all the RTID projects and trying to categorize them. The results: 47% of RTID is about expanding service for single-occupancy vehicles (SOV). King County, mind you, is spending 61% on things other than roads expansion for SOVs. But the new Cross Base Highway in Pierce County is a huge factor (new SOV capacity is 75% of Pierce County’s portion of RTID), and there’s a bunch of road widening in Snohomish County as well.

He gets to the nub of it here: Why are we focused on more of the same, ie, Single Occupancy channels, instead of alternatives? As someone said, more lanes will just fill up.

Why SOV?

The question should not be more or less lanes, but rather Why SOV? Our contractor needs to drive to our house to do the remodel (the one that’s threatening to eat my life), he’s got a truckload of tools and supplies. He’s a valid SOV case. The 15,000 people who drive in and out of Seattle every day to sit at a desk carrying little more than a laptop and a phone are unexplored opportunities to find better ways to get around. Better mass transit, better car sharing, better bike infrastructure.

Grist offered a good overview of the issue the other day, highlighting the problems in figuring out what to do with the traffic problem in Puget Sound. While I understand that most people bought their big expensive cars in order to drive to work, in a congested urban environment, more lanes for more SOVs just don’t make sense. There are so many other ways we could solve this problem.

 

The Wizard of OZ

A tee shirt I have in mind to make, specifically for biking (big print on the back….I’ll probably get run over): “What are YOU doing about traffic in Seattle?” People seem focused on what the local government is going to do about traffic, all the while continuing to drive the same way they did 10 years ago, despite staggering population density, concentrations of businesses downtown, bigger cars, more trucks…What do they think? That the government really is the Wizard of Oz? And if the gov did do something radical to change things, those same people would be the first ones to sabotage it. So I’m skipping the whole government bullshit and going straight to it: What the heck are YOU doing about traffic?

Daily Stats (Thur-Mon)
Car: 11 miles (2 tasks)
Bike: 10 miles
Ped: 0
Bus: 0

Day 180-182: MLwC, the Half-Way Point Data Extravahhh-ganza!

It’s the mid-point mark in my year long project to change how I think about getting around! So far, the project is a massive success. But first, a few items:

Neighbor Susan noted yesterday re the amount of waste created on a daily basis while traveling. This being The Travel Month for a lot of people, that observation seems particularly apt:

I had similar feelings on our two-week road trip where the combination of eating on-the-road, the absence of the usual recycling bins and the need to stay contained in a small vehicle meant that we were throwing things into the garbage that at home we would have recycled.

It would be nice if Recycling were a national program, rather than a very uneven local option. I’ve been lots of places where recycling isn’t even available, much less an option. And traveling, where you pretty much don’t have reusable-anything, really surfaces the issue of waste in a palpable way.

Bike considerations.

My pal B2 has put approx 1500 miles on his bike since May. Whoa–nice job, my slim and good lookin friend! I’ve been reading Sightline Institute’s many great articles regarding the environment and the Northwest, and following Alan Durning’s blog Bicycle Neglect–excellent posts. Here’s one entitled Bicycle Shame, a lament and study of the many patently ridiculous stereotypes about bicyclists. To whit: bicyclists are wimps (let me see, I know I’ve been hit on a bike and sent flying through the air, only to get back on my bike as soon as I could…yeah, that’s pretty wimpy) and bicyclists are elitist (Alan suggests cyclists also probably speak French but anyway, that’s so weird, like a BMW is not elitist but a mountain bike is?). Here’s a clip from this excellent blog:

Biking is the least exclusive form of vehicular transportation there is. It’s not restricted to people with money, or people with drivers’ licenses and insurance.

Biking isn’t just cheap for bikers, it’s cheap for the communities in which people bike. Bikeways and bike racks are inexpensive to build and maintain.

Biking is also cheap for nations: they don’t have to import as much oil or defend their access to that oil with billions of dollars and divisions of soldiers. It’s cheap for health-care institutions: they don’t have to treat as many car-crash injuries, as much lung disease, or as many cases of diabetes and others maladies of obesity. It’s cheap for our grandchildren who won’t have to endure as much climate disruption; cheap for polar bears who won’t have to go extinct; cheap for our consciences, our karma, our souls.

Biking, walking or sharing transportation even one day a week does a world of good.

The MLwC project half-way point

And speaking of One Day a Week: when I first started this project, I remember setting small goals of just one day a week without using my car. Then two days, and then after that, walking-biking-bussing-sharing was just more and more part of my thinking. And now? Well, right now, I’m in the midst of this small remodel which requires picking up things like carpet cleaners and finish molding and schlepping around. It’s a drag but there you have it: sometimes you need a car.

Here’s the great thing: it seems weird and irritating to drive. I would never have expected that when I started this project. Back then, driving was the norm. Now it’s not. And I find the whole traffic-parking-gotta-get-somewhere tension pretty aggravating and weird. It’s true: I find biking/bussing/walking to be a preferable method of transport, call me elitist. 😉

So, without further ado, here are the stats.

The crowd roars

Review round-up from Day 90 :

Car: 535 miles, approx 85% multi-task, multi-occupant
Bike: 176.30 miles, increasing daily mileage from Day 1 to Day 90 (by a lot!)
Hybrid-electro Bus: 60 miles (didn’t utilize the bus until around day 60)

From Day 90 to present:

Car: 301.4 miles, approx 95% shared, with average 3 tasks per outing
Bike: 154.3 miles, a little less than the first round-up
Hybrid-electro Bus: 136 miles–more than double
By foot: 156.5. I didn’t track this previously.

seattle071.jpg

Big changes:

  • Significant reduction in use of my car, which is interesting since during the first 90 days, I was out of the country a lot and couldn’t use my car. So reducing my usage while still being in Seattle is a big improvement.
  • significant increase in bus usage–which I attribute to “learning to love downtown Seattle again.” Meaning: if you don’t have to deal w parking and traffic, Seattle’s a great place to visit!
  • Much more conscious use of walking, jogging, or other foot powered transportation.
  • Weird little decrease in bike usage. Not sure what’s up there.

I believe, for now, I have seriously and successfully changed my habitual transportation thinking.

Daily Stats: (Mon- Wed)
Car: 7 miles (2 tasks)
Bike: 10 miles
Bus: 15 miles
Ped:0

Day 176-178: MLwC and Seattle Traffic Blues

To some degree, I’m completely clueless about the massive traffic jam that is Seattle right now. And, in fact, the planners who decided to take down a couple of lanes of I-5 planned things pretty well: they launched the 2 week project in the middle of August when just about everyone is gone and they pre-announced so many horror stories about the potential nightmarish commutes that anyone who hadn’t already planned to split put plans together to leave town.

So, it could be worse. That said, taking down a couple of lanes through already-congested Seattle is not a pretty site. But like I said, I’m nearly clueless about it. I drive so little anymore that I haven’t hit any of it. The most thought I’ve given the situation is curious pondering about what they’re actually doing on the freeway. I know they’re not adding lanes, or doing anything to relieve congestion. Seattle rarely does stuff like that.

Someday, though, they will. They’ll have to fix the viaduct. They’ll have to do something about the ridiculous winnowing of traffic to one single lane on I-5 through the core of downtown Seattle. And then, I wonder what will happen to my town, West Seattle, that is so dependent on the West Seattle Bridge to get into downtown. Will they bump up the ferry schedule, add more bus routes? Will they add real bike lanes?

I sort of look forward to it because change happens when change happens.  Voluntarily or otherwise, we become most creative when our regular modes of behavior are altered or removed.  I’d like to see what Seattle comes up with when change is forced upon us.

All of which reminds me: I’m coming up on the half year mark of My Life with Car. Lots to think about. A friend was visiting for lunch the other day (Hi, Dana!) and mentioned that my car was incredibly dusty from lack of use. Poor thing, sitting day after day. Maybe I’ll wash it to mark the day. We’ll see…lots of numbers to crunch.

Daily Stats: (Fri, Sat, Sun)
Car: 7 miles (2 tasks)
Bike: 6
Ped: 0
Bus: 0

Day 160: MLwC and when making things easy makes things worse

In the USA, making things easier and then selling tons of those easy things is the basis of our entire economy and consumer culture. It’s human nature: easy is good, difficult is bad. But as with all good things, there is a tipping point where good goes bad.

In the world of “easy things,” that tipping point is often related to over-consumption. At this time of year, I think of all the garden watering contraptions that have been invented–to take the trouble out of the task of watering. Most of them rely heavily on a broadcast spray functionality that could not–really!–could not be more wasteful. On an 80 degree day, spraying water into the air guarantees losing about half of what you’re pumping out.

Sierra Club blog had a good quote a few months back that comes to mind:

“The greenest ballpark in the country may be Fenway Park, because only an idiot would try driving and parking there.” (Sports Illustrated, March 2007)

And over at Confessions of a Green Girl Wannabe Marguerite, who is in Paris right now, notes that:

There is some advantage to not having access to the comfort of modern appliances. In our Paris appartment, I still have not figured out how to use the wash machine. The dryer appears to be even more of a mystery. One [interesting] consequence has been how little dirty laundry we have generated as a result.

Fast food is easy–so easy, we eat too much of it. Driving is easy–so easy, we forget other forms of transportation, or even forget how nice it might be to hang closer to home. Getting a double tall split shot cappuccino is ridiculously easy–and our landfills are overflowing with plastic and paper cups to prove it.

I rarely drive downtown anymore. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I did, and I would not have predicted that a year ago. I resonate with the Fenway park quote above: driving downtown is so hard anymore that I’ve learned a hundred other ways to get there–all smarter and less impacting than driving.

What other things might be better if they were just a wee bit more difficult? And how on earth could we possibly sell such an idea to an entire culture that bases its choices on “easy livin'”?

Daily Stats: (Wed)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0
internet: all day long.

Day 150 & 151: MLwC and green films

I love a good movie–when it’s raining in Seattle, there’s nothing better than a good movie and a bowl of popcorn. Random and Sundry Things highlighted a Grist article on Hollywood’s 15 greenest movies a couple of weeks ago, you can find it here.

Chinatown, movie–for the full article go to seacat.wordpress.org

Random and Sundry was surprised that Chinatown was included in the list which pleased me in a weird way. It pleased me because it shows that the plot was so well crafted that the issue of overdevelopment in Southern California, the rerouting of water from the more fertile valleys to the Los Angeles basin was part of the backdrop–vs. a clunk on the head type plot, a plot with an agenda. Chinatown actually has a lot in common with Cadillac Desert, a documentary and good book, though you wouldn’t know it on the surface.

I like a good story, and I hate it when a good story is sacrificed for an overbearing agenda, even though entertainment is often a good way to spread real information. So, even though the true story is hugely important and captivating all on its own, Chinatown is a movie, it’s fiction that is meant to bring the historical facts to life. The greed, the ruthlessness, the corruption.

One film that would have been interesting to include, and which any discussion of Chinatown always reminds me of in terms of period and plot is…oddly enough: Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Why? Because the murder in that animation film, and the whole plot, is based on the idea of removing the existing and beloved Red and Yellow Street Car lines from the Los Angeles basin, in order to put in thousands of miles of freeways–the current freeway system that L.A is famous for. It was a true event and was chronicled, and as the basis of a Disney animation, make for a good story as well as a commentary on choices made out of greed, corruption, and ruthlessness.  Highways mean cars, cars mean gas, gas means money, and money means business.

What other Green Films would you like to see on the list?

Daily Stats (Sat and Sun)

Car: 0
Bus: 0
bike: 0
Ped: approx 2 miles