I want to reduce my gas consumption and my carbon footprint. But little by little, I’m getting talked out of my bike commuting plans. Several people in the past few weeks have expressed concern over the lack of shoulder in several places on the road I’d be riding along with the speed of traffic on the road, particularly relative to a (slow) cyclist.

I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that, dammit, they’re probably right.

So now I’m left wondering what I want to do about my commute. Besides commuting by bike, I’ve decided to catalog the options I’m weighing, and see if anyone has any other suggestions:

  • I was willing to trade off lots of time (a daily three hours of bike commuting vs. 50 minutes on average by car on the highway) in order to get to zero, so I should be willing to make the same or similar concessions if I can lower my ecological impact. For example, if I were to buy a hybrid car, it would mean shuffling around some financial plans to accommodate it, but that should be no less inconvenient, in some ways, than the bike commute would have been.

    On the other hand, I was actually looking forward to the quiet time on the bike, whereas I’m not so eager to spend ~$20K on a new car. On the third hand, I do rather like being alive and don’t want to risk life and limb just to be stubborn about being a zero-carbon commuter.

  • Carpooling is a possibility. Unfortunately, no one I work with lives in my neighborhood, so there are no obvious arrangements. A few of my neighbors work in the same suburb I do, so I could pursue sharing rides with them if we can compromise on work hours. And some of my coworkers live on the east side of town, which is easy enough to get to. We’ve tried a few times to have Karsten drop me off at a designated meeting spot, like a gas station en route to the highway, and that’s been reasonably successful, but all of the carpool options do require conforming to a work schedule that may or may not suit my day-to-day needs. On the other hand, bike commuting would have been even more restrictive, since my choice would be to ride during daylight hours, and that means much shorter workdays than I’m used to. Not at all a bad thing, but a big adjustment either way.
  • Another option, albeit one I have less direct control over, is to try to work out a telecommute arrangement with my employer. I have experience with successfully introducing this arrangement in other workplaces, and there is sort of a precedent for it here — we have associates in remote locations already, so it’s not as if we don’t know how to get our jobs done when we’re not face-to-face. But this doesn’t seem like an easy sell and it probably wouldn’t be an immediate change, even if all parties agreed on the terms of a telecommute arrangement.
  • Finally, so as not to ignore obvious options, I could always quit my current job and find work closer to home (or freelance and work from home full-time). But I like what I’m doing, so I’m not ready to explore that option — especially not before I’ve explored the telecommute option.
  • I suppose another obvious option that should be stated is to move closer to work. This, however, is simply not going to happen. Karsten and I love our house and our neighborhood; our remaining happy in Nashville is heavily contingent on feeling as if we’re in a charming urban oasis in a sea of strange Southern suburban sameness. It’s one thing to work in the suburbs — exurbs, even — but living there would make me go postal.

    Other than that, I’m out of ideas. Anyone out there have any novel approaches for reducing ecological impact on the daily work commute?

    Reducing eco-impact in the daily commute
  • 2 thoughts on “Reducing eco-impact in the daily commute

    • August 17, 2008 at 12:35 pm
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      I’m not sure which parts of your commute are most dangerous. Could you take the 8th Avenue bus as far south as it goes and then bike the rest?

      Reply
    • August 17, 2008 at 9:16 pm
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      I’m not sure which parts of your commute are most dangerous. Could you take the 8th Avenue bus as far south as it goes and then bike the rest?

      I could do that, but that doesn’t even go as far as I-440 on Franklin Road, and the real trouble starts after that. There are significant sections of Franklin Road with little to no shoulder and 55 mph speed limits. I wasn’t uncomfortable when I did my test ride, but that was on a weekend morning — I still haven’t tried it during a workday commute. Several people have made the rather convincing argument that weekday morning commuters are bound to be more aggressive, more distracted, and less willing to share the road than weekend drivers.

      Thanks for trying to think of a way I could do it, though. I really wanted — and still do want — to, but I’m slowly coming around to thinking it’s just too big of a risk.

      Reply

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