Most of us have beliefs that we hold as truths and rarely question. These are not necessarily controversial things, but rather everyday notions that settled in our brain a long time ago and have not been reconsidered since. In The Stories We Tell Ourselves, we will present some common assumptions we’ve heard from friends and colleagues regarding everyday travels and take a closer look to get you thinking about, and reconsidering, some long held notions you may have about the way you commute. This week we tackle driving!
Driving is so much more convenient than the [train], [bus], [bike]!
Sure, it can seem like jumping in the car right outside of your house and driving directly to your destination is the most convenient way to get out and about, but when you closely consider elements of your actual trip, driving may be less convenient than you think.
While beginning your commute in your driveway offers convenience, once you hit the street things may take an unpleasant turn. Austin’s traffic has been ranked the 4th worst among US Metro areas and studies predict that travel times will only get longer as the population grows and the region continues to add an estimated 120 cars to our roadways every day.
When you reach your destination, how long do you spend looking for parking? Circling the block to look for a spot near your destination largely contributes to downtown traffic, while also wasting gas and valuable time. Plus, not only can it be time consuming to look for parking, but 1 in 5 urban crashes occur while looking for parking!
So what is convenience? Is it time spent? Start a journal for a week. Track the time you spend driving and what you do while driving. Some people might spend more time actually traveling when they use the train, bus or carpool, but will also experience the additional “convenience” benefit of doing other things while travelling: reading, watching The Sopranos, texting friends. All things considered, driving alone may not turn out to be a better use of time.
- Bike parking is typically located near the front door. No need to circle, just cruise on up and take your spot!
- If you use transit, you don’t even have to consider parking; you can read, answer emails, and get work done during the trip!
Driving is the safest option!
Pretend for a moment that car ads show reality rather than an ideal vision to get you buying their product. Rather than featuring a car cruising along a great empty highway, they would inform us that there a lot of cars all trying to go fast at the same time, which often results in a lot of crashes. Car crashes are the #1 killer of people 0-32 years of age.
While there is danger inherent any way you travel, it’s good to take a look at each option more carefully.
- There are only 40 fatalities per year on buses on average in the U.S.!
- The most recent safety stats for Texas list 677 fatal crashes for bicyclists.
You may not immediately feel safe riding your bicycle in traffic, but with practice and maybe some training your confidence will surely grow. And maybe taking the bus or train takes you out of your comfort zone, but if you start small you’ll get it in no time. Try taking the bus to your favorite restaurant over the weekend before riding into work!
Driving is my only option because I have to run errands and will need to carry my stuff.
Never fear! Many smart people have been working on these issues for you and have come up with some great solutions!
Q: What happens if I have a dentist appointment during lunch?
Q: What if I need to pick up some groceries on my way home?
A: Check out these tips for making shopping a breeze.
Q: What if I need to run by Home Depot for a large load?
A: No problem, see how these folks have it handled!
Shopping, whether using your bike or transit, is entirely possible. You could even make lots of new friends as you are asked about your bag full of interesting food perched on the back of your bike. Just don’t buy more than you can carry comfortably. Try stopping by the corner store for a few items to bring with you the next time you use options and see how it goes.
Have we missed something? Let us know in the comments and we may just include your ‘story’ in the next piece.