I am indeed blessed with a relatively good commute: I have the option of driving, biking, running or taking the C-train (Calgary's name for light rail transit). I had an excellent time biking to work this summer, cruising past long lines of traffic on the shoulder...ahhh. But we recently had a big snow fall which put a hiccup into my regular bike routine. So the last couple days I drove one day and took the C-train today. The C-train is great, albeit time consuming (1 hour each way with walking to-and-from the train) but it's time reading a book or taking a nap, i.e. reasonably productive. Compare this to my drive, which is about 30 minutes each way, but it's 30 minutes of unproductive time sitting in rush hour stop-and-go traffic, where I sit and get stressed out wondering if I'm going to be to work on time. I consider myself a very patient person in most situations, but sitting in traffic, idling my car and breathing in fumes certainly tests that patience.
Compare this now to riding a bike to work. It seems like a no-brainer in my opinion- but it surprises me how alone I feel out on the paths sometimes. I'd expect more people to catch on to this amazing phenomenon: cheap, fun, good exercise, fresh air and so on...absolutely great! Commuting by train, bike, or other non-motorized methods such as running, walking or even long-boarding, are what I consider to be very civilized forms of travel.
Compare these pictures:
Okay, so I realize that there are lots of factors here- some people don't have the luxury of having multiple methods of commuting easily accessible from their house. I must say I'm blessed to have a bike path by the river for my commute and a quick walk to the C-train station, but I realize some don't have great bike paths or a train station close by. But, that being said, some people who do have a station nearby simply claim that the C-train is too expensive.
This got me thinking...what is the true cost of commuting? So I whipped up this chart:
To sum it up, I estimated the daily cost of each method of transportation (based on what I consider to be average fuel economy, distance of commute etc.). This resulted in a daily cost of $1.70 per day to bike, $6 per day to ride the train and whopping $9 per day to drive! This chart also doesn't take into account hidden long-term costs like the huge health benefits from riding your bike and the stress reduced from taking the train as opposed to a car in rush hour.
So what I'm trying to get at is, a great city is one that realizes that the car commuting system is inefficient, polluting, dangerous and expensive. A great city will focus on building a strong transit system and pedestrian path system in high density communities, rather than building far-reaching, sprawling roads to distant suburbs. Imagine if all these people in this picture were each driving a car, how packed it would get on the roads!
Let's start by hopping on our bike or heading to the train station tomorrow morning.
Pictures from here, here, here, and here