Friday, January 31, 2014

The Woes of Commuting: Did We Make the Best Choice?

EcoYogini shares some thoughts on commuting...

Today marks day 8 of living in semi-suburbia... and I wasn't quite compared to the mass feelings of guilt and frustration over the commute.

Our new home is about 20 minutes outside of the city, 35 minutes to the downtown. Far enough out that we have a well and septic system (yay!), a good size plot of land (1.34 acres) while still being a doable commuting distance. (or so I believed).

Since we are a one car family, Andrew and I have been carpooling, which adds an extra 10-20min to my commute time. From our home to work it *should* take 40min without loads of traffic. Thursday morning it took an hour and forty minutes.... (cue jaw drop and fist shaking at ridiculously terrible drivers). This morning it took an hour.

While the southern US was freaking out because of a few centimetres of snow, Halifax got 20cm (3/4 of a foot) of snow on Wednesday, in which everybody drove... even though snow plows seemed to forget until after rush hour that we were having a storm. Even though it was too cold for salt and sand to make a difference. Yes, despite 20cm of snow, no snow plows and ineffective salt and sand, businesses and schools closing- no one slept in stores, abandoned their cars and behaved as if it were the snowpocalypse (that happened on January 3rd).

It wasn't Wednesday that made me seriously reconsider our choice, it was the ridiculously long commute Thursday morning that made me wonder: did we make the best choice?
(view on the Bedford highway with the sun rising while we were surrounded by traffic)

As we inched forward, one kilometre taking 30min, and I looked around us to see virtually every single commuter alone in their separate cars, I felt a bit of my granola crunching self choke and die. It became quickly obvious that Halifax has a serious car problem. Oh, I know this isn't news, but I've never really experienced it until then.

Why the eff aren't people carpooling???? It's unbelievable with the price of gas and what we know of car pollution that people wouldn't carpool.

I do know why more people don't take public transit. Andrew and I considered it. Unfortunately for my job I need a vehicle as I do home and daycare visits. And the metro Link (bus) is a 45min walk from our new house. Until we purchase bicycles (spring!), the link isn't a reasonable alternative. Even in the spring, it will be an awful long commute by bus.

I know we will adjust, and it was the compromise we made in our decision to move out of the city, but it definitely has plagued me more than I thought it would. Who knows, perhaps we will find another person in our new neighbourhood who would like to hop in for our commute... then at least I would feel like I was making a little bit of a difference.


Stephanie Hayes said...

Does HRM have any carpool resources? Any notice boards or online communities that would allow you to connect with others in your neighbourhood and help promote the cause?

Christy said...

I understand your frustrations. We have worked in the suburbs for 15 years now, but moved out of the city and closer to our work 10 years ago. The price we have paid to live closer to our work, and avoid a horrible commute each day (similar to yours) is a very high mortgage. I hope with warmer weather your commute is more manageable. And yes, it is shocking how few people carpool or ride share.


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