December 7, 2010

Highway To Hell

I live exactly 11.9 miles from work. In most places this would be a stroke of luck. I do not live in one of those places. Were I to take to the roads to work during the weekend, I'd be able to make the trip in 15 minutes, maybe 20. During the week, it's a different story. If I leave the house before 7:00 AM it takes a minimum of 35 minutes. If I'm later than that? I can count on the trip taking an hour.

Sometimes the commute just starts off bad. I pull out of my neighborhood and know instantly that I'm screwed. Other times it toys with me, letting me believe that for some reason - plague, pestilence - the roads are clearer than usual only to veer around a bend and find an unholy knot of cars all trying to head the same place. That's usually at the corner of Late Avenue and You're Fucked Drive.

I want to be green and I want to avoid the whole commuting nightmare. But for me to take public transportation between where I live and where I work would be equivalent to trying to get from New York to L.A. by way of Hong Kong. In a boat. On fire. Chased by angry midgets.

Where do you live? What's your commute like? Are you a green commuter?

Posted by Chris at December 7, 2010 6:16 AM

I live in Des Moines IA. From my house to downtown where I work is 8 miles. On a typical day, even when I have to drop a middle schooler off, it takes me 15 minutes or less. If there is a conference going on downtown... I am working from home because there is no way I'm going to sit for an hour in that hopeless knot of traffic despair!!

Posted by: Laurie C at December 7, 2010 7:21 AM

Before I was a SAHM we lived in the Fair Lakes area of Fairfax. My experience driving to the very edge of Tysons was exactly what you describe. I tried every possible route and finally gave up and began leaving for work at 6:45. I was an hour early, but I couldn't take sitting in traffic, and being late wasn't an option.

So glad that my husband lives 7.5 miles from work but that it is consistently only 15 minutes. It helps a lot when the whole world isn't going the same direction! He probably could take the bus, though it would take a lot longer. He has been known to ride his bike since we're only a bit over a mile from the WO&D and his office is right on it, but it doesn't seem all that bright to head home after dark with your laptop on your back :(

Posted by: Kate M at December 7, 2010 7:24 AM

I live 2.3 miles from work, and the commute takes all of 10 minutes max since I start after rush hour is over, and I am going in the opposite direction than most commuters. I could even bike it, but my sense of self-preservation is too strong. I'm a wimpy biker. Also, Lexington drivers suck.

Posted by: Alison at December 7, 2010 7:59 AM

Thanks to the recession, I have the best commute ever. I walk from my bedroom to the dining room, where I have a home office set up ever since my company closed our physical office and shifted us to home offices. Sometimes it gets boring or lonely, but on snowy days like today, it can't be beat!

Posted by: Traci at December 7, 2010 8:09 AM

I'm in Minneapolis. My commute is a little over 10 miles, which takes about 20 minutes when the roads are dry, or 1.5 hours when its snowing. Luckily, there's an express bus that I can catch just a block from my house that drops me off 2 blocks from my office. So, in that respect, I'm green, but its more due to not wanting to pay for parking or drive on snow-choked highways than anything else.

Posted by: J at December 7, 2010 8:47 AM

I live about 10 miles from work. On a good day with all green lights it takes me about 20 minutes. On a bad day with red lights, several school zones, and even a train or two it can take me over an hour to get to work. If I were to take public transportion, ie the bus, I would have to leave my apartment at 530 am to get to work at 8 and leave at 4 pm to get home by 730pm. I wish they built the rail up toward my work area, I would seriously consider taking that.

Posted by: Elizabeth at December 7, 2010 8:52 AM

I don't work outside the home any more, but when I did, I had to drive. No public transportation up here in the sticks of New Hampshire.

Posted by: Maribeth at December 7, 2010 8:58 AM

I live 15 miles from work. It usually takes between 25 and 30 minutes to make the trip. However, if it is snowing like it was yesterday, it can take 1.5 hours. That might not seem unreasonable except for the fact that this is Buffalo! Get a grip people, this happens every winter - you'd think people would have adapted by now!

I would love to take a bus or other form of public transit, but I'd have to drive half way to work to get to a bus stop on the route that would get me to work (eventually).

Posted by: Elizabeth at December 7, 2010 8:58 AM

I live in the suburbs and only about 8 minutes from my office (with traffic). It's one of the reasons I've stayed at this job for so long, even though it's not otherwise ideal.

Posted by: Robyn at December 7, 2010 9:32 AM

I got laid off last week, so my commute is about as green as it can be at the moment :)

But for the last year, I was commuting 8 miles. It took 15 minutes to get there, and 30 minutes coming home. Prior to that, I telecommuted full time for about 5 years.

Posted by: COD at December 7, 2010 9:32 AM

I live and work in Virginia. On the weekend my drive would take 15-20 minutes MAX. It takes me over an hour during the week. Gotta love I-95! I would love to be a green commuter, but my office doesn't allow telecommuting, the buses are stuck in the same traffic I am and have to stop at multiple place (and then fight their way back in because Virginia drivers are just so freaking considerate!), and metro rail doesn't go out far enough...

Posted by: Kris H. at December 7, 2010 9:40 AM

I live in Michigan and work on two university campuses. I take the bus to one campus (7 minute walk, then 8 minute bus ride, drops me off across the street from work!) and drive to the other campus (4.5 miles, 13 minutes). Just recently, the bus company did a survey asking what people would do if there was no bus. The survey answer options were drive, car pool, etc. I wanted to put my answer as CRY! I would cry if there was no bus.

Posted by: Sandy at December 7, 2010 9:44 AM

When I started commuting 10 years ago, they were just beginning construction on the bottleneck between Where Everybody Lives and Where Everybody Works. 7 years later, they completed it. A year after that, I got a different job and didn't have to drive that way anymore. That one year was fucking spectacular. All of the previous sucked donkey balls.

I work from home now and I'll do just about anything to keep this job. The healing has begun.

Posted by: Brad at December 7, 2010 9:54 AM

I live in Alexandria, VA but commute to Bethesda, MD. In other words, I live right by one bridge to get into MD, but drive all the way to the other bridge into MD to get to work…25 miles each way. Most mornings it takes me 35-40 minutes, but that's b/c I'm leaving at 6:45 am. On the way home, however, it's 1 hour minimum. Usually 1:15-1:30.
When gas prices were up over $4 a few years ago, I took Metro but it takes an hour and a half each way to do that and costs about the same, so really not worth it.

Posted by: Beth at December 7, 2010 10:13 AM

Until last year I lived 74 miles away from my office (Easton MD across the bay bridge - to Washington DC). Was a 2.5 hour EACH way commute. I did that for nearly 5 years! I drove 40 miles to Kent Island then picked up a commuter bus into the city. Then I moved to Annapolis and my commute is more or less 20 miles and I still take a commuter bus- but I only have to drive 4 miles to catch the bus, and the whole thing takes on average an hour (much better than 2.5 hours!) The bus is cheaper than metro (and I dont have to pay for parking) and more comfortable. I'm also one of the lucky ones to work on K St, a major thorofare for the commuter buses, and I get dropped off/picked up less than 100 yds from my office front door!

The few days I have to drive myself in (only 5 in 6 years)I spend my same amount of time on the ride, but now frustrated and seething at the incompetent idiots who cant drive on a freeway....and by the time I get home I need a drink just to calm down from the drive!

I love my job, and I also would cry if I couldn't take the commuter bus any more!!

Posted by: 3jaysmom at December 7, 2010 11:06 AM

I live in Las Vegas, NV. My commute is just over 6 miles, and I am blessed to be going against traffic, so I'm usually at the office in 10 to 15 minutes.

I mapped out the nearest bus route "just in case" and found out it would be a 1/4 mile walk to the bus stop nearest my house, a two hour bus ride, and then just over a 1/4 mile walk to the office. Um, no thanks.

I have campaigned for 4/10 hour days and also for working from home occasionally to help our office "green up" but those ideas are still falling on deaf ears. It'll happen someday, when someone figures out how much money is being wasted with the office lights on all of the time. Our water district just went to 4/10s because they figured out the cost of not turning on all the lights in the buildings would save them lots of money.

Posted by: bacioni at December 7, 2010 11:11 AM

My commute isn't bad, about 20 minutes. I do get squirelly when stuck in traffic though. To remedy this I always have a book on CD on the go. I actually look forward to my drives. Especially right now, I'm listening to Mishna Wolff's "I'm Down" - it's freaking hilarious. I am the crazed lady laughing hysterically in the traffic jam. When I was listening to "The Notebook", I may have appeared suicidal to other commuters.

Posted by: meanie at December 7, 2010 11:17 AM

I can commiserate, having commuted to downtown Houston from the burbs every day for four years - one hour minimum, and that was on the bus in the special reserved lanes.

That has certainly changed - I'm lucky if I get an entire song in before I get to work now! (Getting off work at 11pm rules out walking, otherwise that would certainly be the wiser option - more songs in!)

Posted by: Heather at December 7, 2010 11:40 AM

I live just north (or WEST, as they insist on calling it here) of the L.A./Ventura county line. I live in Ventu, work in L.A. It's about 20 miles of commute, and it takes about half an hour. I have 9 miles of canyon road and the rest is Highway 101, which moves at about 80 MPH between 7:30 and 8. So overall, my commute is not bad, and frankly, it's pretty scenic once the ocean is in view. However, one little accident or any construction on the canyon road is a nightmare, so I have to be in the know about what's going on there.

I'd like to be greener. I tried the vanpool for a month, but I had to get up so early to catch it, and the people on it were SO snarky I just couldn't deal. Mass transit is not an option. It's a lot like your options. I think I'd have to go all the way to Santa Monica to catch a bus back up the coast to my workplace. I promise to buy an electric car just as soon as I can to reduce my carbon footprint, though.

Posted by: Brooke at December 7, 2010 11:57 AM

booo traffic. :p

Posted by: kati at December 7, 2010 12:05 PM

I live in a small city so it's rare that traffic is an issue. Is there anything you could do to improve the situation? I have a feeling that you love your house and neighbourhood but is moving closer to the city where you work or a commuter train an option?

Posted by: Heather at December 7, 2010 12:11 PM

Why not cycle? I guess it depends on the hills and the weather but that could be a good option... Plus 22 miles a day cycling could make you pretty fit
If you do choose to do so, don't forget to wear a helmet and use good lights ;)

Posted by: Alejandra at December 7, 2010 12:23 PM

We live near Covington, WA (southeast of Seattle and northeast of Tacoma)and my commute is about 18 miles. On a good work day, it takes me 30 minutes door to door to get to work or home. The longest parts of my commute are getting to the highway from home with a stop at daycare (3 miles)or getting to the highway from my office (5 miles.) There is never more than a minor slowdown on the busiest days. Of course I've now cursed myself and will have the commute from Hell on the way home. :-)

Posted by: zanie at December 7, 2010 12:32 PM

New York City Transit baby! :) or :( depending....

I live about 8 miles from work, it takes about 45 minutes on a normal day. But the upside is that I can read or sleep during my commute.

Anything under an hour in NYC is fantastic. Double-fantastic if there are no transfers.

Posted by: jessica at December 7, 2010 12:38 PM

I'm in the Twin Cities. Before I got married, I lived 2 miles from work and either bussed or walked to work (and lived without a car). After getting married and moving to the suburbs, I started driving to the closest transit center and then taking the bus the rest of the way. From our house, it takes me 10 minutes to drive to the transit center (4-ish miles), and then 35 minutes on the bus. It's as green as it can be, given where I live, where I work, and all the rivers / highways in-between.

I'm always surprised by people who have commutes over an hour and a half (my boss is one of these people). Why? Help me understand!

Posted by: Kelly at December 7, 2010 1:00 PM

I mainly work from home, so my "commute" is a 10-minute round-trip to take the girls to school, then a 10 second walk from one end of my flat to the other, where my desk is. The other part of my job is teaching English to university students, and that involves a 10-minute walk to the nearest tramway stop, a maximum 5-minute wait, 5 minutes on the tram itself and then another 10-minute walk - that sounds like 30 minutes, but I can actually usually do it in between 20 and 25. The only hassles come from when the public transport workers are on strike (a depressingly common occurrence here in France). If I'm clued in to the problem, it's OK, I can walk it as it's only 2 or 3 stops (depending on which university I'm going to that day). The trouble comes when I'm unaware of the strike and running slightly late - those 2 or 3 stops add about 15 minutes' speed walking...
But, on the whole, my "commute" is pretty cool and easy. The weather is generally good, so all the walking is fine by me (today, for example, it must be at least 15°C outside...).
I don't envy any of you guys your nasty-sounding commutes!

Posted by: Kirsty at December 7, 2010 1:51 PM

A direct bus goes from round the corner from my house to opposite work, taking around 20-25 minutes, so I take that. In Edinburgh most people walk or take the bus. I do believe strongly that people should use public transport as much as possible but recognise for some people it's just not realistic.

Posted by: Katherine at December 7, 2010 2:47 PM

I work in my living yeah.

However, when I lived in West LA, I shit you not, I was 5 miles from work. 45 minutes was average.

Posted by: Issa at December 7, 2010 2:56 PM

My commute is 27 miles from just behind the Orange County line into Downtown Los Angeles. When I tell anyone this, people make the strangest faces. We all know the pain. Driving on a good day takes an hour, 45 minutes with a carpool buddy, and two hours on a bad day.

However, I don't drive. I take a commuter's bus. It takes about 40 minutes to get to work. We usually get home in about an hour, but right now, road constructions make it more like 1.5 hours.

Given there are 3 buses going in and 2 buses coming home at somewhat inconvenient times of day, but nothing says F*CK YOU LA TRAFFIC like taking a nice long nap all the way to work/back. ;-D

Posted by: oakley at December 7, 2010 2:57 PM

I live in Issaquah, WA, you'll be getting a Christmas card from my fair city soon, and commute to downtown Seattle. It's 18.3 miles door to parking lot. Generally the drive in takes about 35 minutes, going home however can be a totally different story. It can range from 35 to an hour. God help us all. I have no system for it, it just varies for some ridiculous reason. The rain however you can count on that effing it up. We live in one of the rainiest spots in the country yet when it rains, man alive, everyone comes to a dead stop. It kills me.

(P.S, sorry I haven't commented in ages, am going to get good at that again soon)

Posted by: Dianna at December 7, 2010 3:38 PM

I live in Issaquah, WA, you'll be getting a Christmas card from my fair city soon, and commute to downtown Seattle. It's 18.3 miles door to parking lot. Generally the drive in takes about 35 minutes, going home however can be a totally different story. It can range from 35 to an hour. God help us all. I have no system for it, it just varies for some ridiculous reason. The rain however you can count on that effing it up. We live in one of the rainiest spots in the country yet when it rains, man alive, everyone comes to a dead stop. It kills me. Also, not a green driver...sorry.

(P.S, sorry I haven't commented in ages, am going to get good at that again soon)

Posted by: Dianna at December 7, 2010 3:39 PM

End up going to Cleveland ( ish ) every day, taking mostly surface streets but some highway. There is no practical way for me to use public transportation. In the summer, I can make the trip in 30-45 minutes; with the recent bout of snow, hour to 1 1/2. NE Ohio is really just built for cars, with buses a strong second but not enough of them to make getting around practical. Pretty much the answer to greening around here would be widespread support for electric, which I think will eventually happen as the prices come down.

Posted by: metawizard at December 7, 2010 4:02 PM

I live in the country outside of Little Rock.

I'm 31 miles from work. My commute is a combination of all types of roads. Two lane country roads where I'm constantly on the lookout for deer, two lane highways where I never feel comfortable passing (even the jerk doing 30 in a 55), business roads, interstates and the local speedway (speed limit is 40 but you'll get creamed if you go less than 50). I leave the house around 6:30 and I can usually stop for coffee and still make it to work by 7:20ish.

My girl and I commute since our schedules are similar. I work 7:30 to 4:30 she works 7:40 to 4:00. She drops me off and picks me up. It works out well for us and I love saving gas.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 7, 2010 4:20 PM

I live on the Northern Beaches (yes, as gorgeous as it sounds) of Sydney and my route to work requires traveling over the Spit Bridge, which has 3 lanes in 1 direction (and 1 returning) in peak hour. It was reported on the news that it's the slowest road in Sydney the morning. I get around it by taking the bus, and I'll confess to a small frisson of superiority that bubbles up when we cruise past all the stationary cars while I'm in the bus...

I do my best not to give myself away by smirking though...

Posted by: Deeleea at December 7, 2010 4:29 PM

I am 53 miles from my parking lot at work.
My husband is 62 -- in the opposite direction.

He drives a green car and I drive a crossover SUV - the upside is that I can Work from home about 2 days a week.

So green?? probably not..

Posted by: molly at December 7, 2010 4:42 PM

I live in a suburb just outside Cleveland, and I commute about 11 miles to downtown by bus. The ride takes maybe 30 minutes. I have friends who live near me who have switched from the bus to driving, because fares have gone up so much in the past couple years that some lots are actually cheaper than bus fare, and they keep trying to talk me into driving too, but I just can't. I love not having to drive - I can read, crochet, snooze, whatever, and leave the stress up to someone else.

Posted by: Becky at December 7, 2010 5:57 PM

Ridiculous :P
My drive to "work" (babysitting) is way the heck out of town but at least I have a fuel-efficient car? I only go a couple days a week, usually, and they good find a good reliable babysitter in their teensy little hamlet, and it's a few bucks to keep me going so yeah, anyway.
I still probably drive too much for ecological responsibility, but in this small town transit is really limited.

Posted by: Heather at December 7, 2010 6:21 PM

I either work from home or commute with the Boy.

Posted by: alektra at December 7, 2010 7:33 PM

When we lived in Northern California the saying was "if you're not going over the Petaluma Bridge at 6am forget it - you're gonna be late".
Now my commute during the summer is a short walk from my back door to my office above our detached garage.
During the school year it includes a trip of maybe a mile? I've never checked and I drive because I'm always running late and to walk there in the shortest amount of time means not going by sidewalk and road. It means walking down a hill and crossing the path and over the practice football field, through the back of the high school, middle school and then to my school.

Posted by: NancyJ at December 7, 2010 8:42 PM

We use kilometers not miles, but even so I am not exactly sure how many km we are from work (hubby & I work at the same place). I know that if we have to go in late at night or on a weekend, with no traffic we can be there within 10-15 minutes. In the mornings it depends on what time we leave the house (anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes playing in the traffic). And, as with you, some mornings we know early on that we are screwed, and othertimes we are just reflecting on what a breeze the commute is until we round a corner and there is the mother of all bottlenecks. We have to contend with 2 major thoroughfares, plus mini-bus taxis (and for those that have never been to South Africa, the general consensus is that taxis here have the right of way, left of way, center of way, and any other way that they choose).

We don't specifically carpool or anything, but we do stay close to several colleagues so if one of us needs a lift in to work, we help out etc. Personally, I live for the day when transporter beam technology has been invented (and is safe) ;-) so that aren't anymore frustrating mornings of playing in the traffic.

Posted by: Delia at December 8, 2010 3:16 AM

i live in falls church and commute 19 miles to sterling, va each day. it's against traffic (good!) but takes me through tysons (very very bad!). minimum 35 mins; max 1.5 hours. i used to work from home once a week, but we got a new VP who apparently dislikes the earth and he took that away from everyone. le sigh.

Posted by: Alice at December 8, 2010 9:46 AM

12 miles, 45 minutes each way, week in and week out. And here's the kicker: my wife and I work in the same place but do not commute together. She leaves the house early in the mornings in order to get to work early so that she can also leave early.
I get the kids off to school and then go to work. I stay at work as late as I need to. Lovely Bride picks the kids up as early as she can, that way they don't suffer an intolerably long day. Green? No. Responsible to my children? You bet.

Posted by: Chris at December 8, 2010 11:54 AM

Here in Portland, OR the public transit is really good, and you can get most anywhere fairly easy. Doesn't matter to me though, I work from home.

Back when I lived in LA I never worked a job that was more than a 15 minute drive, even in LA traffic. The worst I spent was 45 the one day there was a major accident on the freeway.

But when I was in art school and had class at 7:30 am, I had it down to a science. If I left by 6:30 I got there no later than 6:50. If I left at 6:35 I'd get there at 7:15. But if I left any later than that there was not much point.. the one day I left at 6:45 I didn't get to class until 10am. Fun times (NOT).

Posted by: Katie at December 8, 2010 2:41 PM

I live in Queens and before being laid off I commuted to Manhattan by subway. I love riding the train. I have a car, but I hate driving, so I'm very happy to have public transportation as a convenient option for me. Commuting the 9 miles between my home and work took 50 minutes to an hour, 20 minutes depending on time of day and any incidents with the trains. Once or twice extreme incidents caused the journey to be over 2 hours, but that's life in the big city.

If I ever get another job again (job market is not pretty here) I plan to keep using the subway to get there.

Posted by: Poppy at December 8, 2010 2:43 PM

My commute takes about 25-40 minutes depending on what time of day and if the bus is ontime/metro is having maintenance issues or not but I do take public transportation. I catch a bus one street over from mine which takes me 1 and 1/2 miles to the nearest metro station. So its about a 5-10 minute busride. Then I take the metro 5 stops and walk about four blocks to my office. I LOVE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION and am one of few people who isn't always complaining about it and giving DC Metro authorities wmata crap about how awful it all is. I listen to music and do the crossword in the paper on my way to work every morning and catch up on blog reading and emails on the way home. Its almost totally relaxing. Cheers, T.

Posted by: Toddy at December 8, 2010 4:14 PM

I feel your pain..unfortunately too well. Manassas to Fairfax...12 miles = 1 hour

Posted by: JJ at December 9, 2010 9:09 AM

My commute...10 feet.

I've worked at home for 4 years now...unless I need to go to a client's location for install or training, which is very rare since almost everything we do is remotely done nowadays!

I used to work about 9 miles from home. Without traffic, took 15 minutes. During rush hour, could take 30-45 minutes! And I live in the "suburbs"!

I do not miss the commute, but that was my only downtime/alone time. Now, there is no down time - it's straight from the office into the arms of a 5 year old who doesn't understand, I need 5 minutes! ;-)

Posted by: cyndy at December 9, 2010 1:10 PM

From my driveway to my parking space at work is 10 miles exactly. I'm in the same boat as you. It regularly takes me from 45 minutes to an hour to go those 10 miles. I've tried to find greener routes, but getting from my house to the closest metro station via bicycle is playing roulette with your life as there are no bike lanes or sidewalks. And I once took a combination of metro train, bus, and walking home when my car was in the shop and it took me over 3 hours (not to mention the fact that I had to walk my then 3 year old home from preschool in the dark. Don't even get me started on the $5 a day parking fee at the metro station before you even get on a train. No thanks, I'll just pollute the air.

Posted by: NG at December 9, 2010 3:27 PM

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