People want big houses on big yards. Most can't afford that close to work, which means they make the economic choice to trade the commute time for that "dream".
That's fine but the problem is that government subsidizes that dream to a ridiculous degree. Urban sprawl has a huge cost in infrastructure, largely borne by the taxpayer.
Low-density urban sprawl largely also makes public transport uneconomic (public transport works best in high density cities and countries).
Lastly, home ownership decreases the flexibility of the labour market. People are less able and less inclined to pick up and move to find work opting instead for lower-paid employment or no employment at all.
Most interesting to me: the long discussion of the research showing the negative effects of commuting.
I live in a rural area about 40 miles from Minneapolis, the largest city around here, pop. about 400k. Normally it would take me well over an hour to get there during rush hour, but I recently discovered that there is a bus that can do it in 22 minutes if the schedule is to be believed. The buses can drive on the shoulder, and of course, use the HOV lanes to get there faster than we can.
I found this out purely by accident because it's really not well publicized. I had to go to Mpls and didn't want to deal with parking, so I looked into the bus route and was astounded that it could do the trip from bus depot to downtown in 20 minutes. The bus stop itself is about 15 minutes from my house, so I could be downtown in less than 40 minutes. I can't believe Metro Transit isn't screaming this from the rooftops!
Of course, life being what it is I made it to the bus stop late, missed the last bus in and had to deal with the 1.5 hour drive into the city anyway :-(
This is the problem with small cities' public transit systems. Temporal flexibility is limited compared to driving one's self to work. Need to stay late? You'll be staying all night, or your spouse must come pick you up.
Other issues (observed as a lifelong Clevelander):
1. The elapsed time savings of using public transit is often quite negative (compared to a city like NYC where it probably is often more time-efficient to take the train).
2. Parking costs are relatively low, so there's no tax on bringing your car with you to work. And, you almost never pay for parking at home.
3. You can't live easily without a car, so the potential savings of public transit is reduced to less usage of your current vehicle. You still have to own one, pay for insurance, etc.
4. Density is so low that your first/last mile issues may literally be that far.
All of this creates a death spiral for these public transit systems: Ridership is low, so vehicle frequency is low. This creates higher costs of public transit for people who have more money than time (how much could you have earned while waiting for the bus?), so these systems end-up serving only those with more time than money. This creates a stigma around using public transit which further reduces ridership. Add in white flight and the fear that extending public transit to the "nice areas" will allow "those people" to invade, and it's hard to imagine how public transit could ever work.
The RTA is very good for getting downtown or to University Circle (and possible Ohio City). Unfortunately the jobs have all moved to around 271/480. I did the 48->7 reverse commuting from Shaker Sq. to Highland Heights when my car was in the shop last year. Let me tell you, that sucked. Nearly an hour and half vs. 30 min driving. And there's only 1 bus the entire day that took the special route I needed.
I am now happily working 1.2 miles from home.
A LOT of people would MUCH rather have large amounts of public dollars spent to improve transit than to, for instance, fund wars, bail out bankers, etc.
The HSR is CA was funded in 2008. It looks like the first leg through Fresno might happen in a year or two. China went from no subway to the biggest subway system in the world in 15 years. They have 5000 miles of HSR. We have zero.
If you really want to get people off the highways, mass transit needs to be made more convenient, not the lesser of two undesirable choices.
Prague: 1,2 million passengers using 60 km of subway, 550 km of tramway and 1815 km of 150 lines buses.
Too many buses, obviously.
why would i take the train for longer distances if my destination will not have buses/subway? i will need my car there anyway, so i might just skip the train and drive.
 I'm aware there are many subsidizes in the US, for instance in agriculture. Still, it seems to be less than in Europe. There are subsidizes for homeownership in Germany but more people live in rented accommodation.
In comparison, buildable land in a European village or small town can be $100,000/acre - not that you can find an acre to buy anyway. Even if you could afford the land, you would then have to find the same amount again to build the house - so it is much cheaper to rent.
Sorry, you wanted a reference. This older story:
It captures some of the US pro-home-ownership arguments lower in the article.
Yeah, there are places in Europe cheaper than Germany, but $700,000/acre does not surprise me. I should have added that construction standards are very different between Europe and the US which also accounts for the low cost of housing. In many (most?) parts of the US houses are made of simple timber frames and hence are simply and quickly erected - I have seen houses (the outer shell obviously) go up in as little as two days. In Europe a lot (most?) of housing is made of brick, a more laborious process.
Around here, $10k/acre is considered expensive.
I'd jump at any chance to buy an acre of land zoned for residential construction for only 100k, even in the most 'rural' areas here ('rural' being relative, even very rural here is still suburban by US standards).
In Europe, they charge very high vehicle and gas tax to make up for the roads and keep people from driving. In the US we allow much less wealthy people to drive. Neither is correct, but we in the US highly subsidize commutes.
And then they wonder why people move out of town as their families grow - SF has one of the lowest proportions of households with small children of any city in the nation.
Big houses and big yards? I've got a bungalow that is smaller than any house I lived in growing up (probably by a factor of two).
Urban sprawl may have a huge cost in infrastructure, but the lack of planning to put in commute alternatives (like trains) are just as damning. In Germany, there are friends that live 30-40min outside of Munich and happily take the train daily. They don't necessarily want to live in the city. Which goes to your argument of "Low-density urban sprawl largely also makes public transport uneconomic" -- in general, sure, but again infrastructure planning can offset this.
This country, unfortunately, doesn't believe in planning for infrastructure. Trains? Unprofitable boondoggles! (or so some think)
Agreed. I live in a flat in semi-central London and I cycle to work in a little more than half an hour. Life is good, but during weekends it really rubs me that I have at least an hours worth of travelling to do before I can get to some uninterrupted countryside.
My experience, along with my fiancee, having lived and worked in 3 different major US cities in the past 5 years, is that assumption just isn't reasonable. It's hard enough to find two good jobs in a household in the same _CITY_ right now, much less the 10-15 mile radius of biking. In areas where it might be possible, the cost of housing is so high that it eats up that savings.
1. New York: Lots of jobs in tight proximity and good public transport, but even in the "cheaper" boroughs, you're still probably paying $250K or more extra for a small family residence.
2. Los Angeles: Cheap housing. Owning less than two cars with two careers? Possible, but very, very difficult. Short commutes? Unlikely.
3. San Francisco: Expensive housing. Expensive car ownership. Jobs spread throughout the peninsula.
Not to mention what happens when you have kids to transport.
What we really need is to lift restrictions on new housing construction in dense urban areas like New York and San Francisco. The only way you can have both high job density and moderate housing prices close together is to allow enough vertical construction to reduce competition for housing to reasonable levels. Until you do that, you're inevitable going to see a large part of the population, especially younger / latecomer families, forced to live away from the job centers so they can reduce housing costs.
I think this is a pipe dream, unfortunately. How could you sell such an idea to the existing homeowner who comprise the voting base?
In my view, the forces behind not allowing more vertical building are really developers who want more sprawl, because they want to buy up unused land at the fringes of a city and build houses on it rather than have to assemble blocks from existing neighborhoods.
The unfortunate answer in all this is that the best way to reduce commuting is to make it harder to commute. Don't build more roads to subsidize long commutes, make work parking more expensive, and favor public transport in allocation of lanes and space. Europe is already doing this, and some cities in the US (like San Francisco) are also doing it to some degree.
I suspect, however, that we won't really get serious about it here in the US until gas hits about $15 a gallon.
- I lived there for nine years. My average tenure was 18 months for each employer: Laid-off, right-sized, down-sized. Finding a new house for each new employer would have been costly.
- One employer was way the heck out by the airport. There were no houses within biking distance. Or not ones I could afford.
- Another employer had me relocate to a new client every few months. I saw a fair bit of the metro-mess that way.
- The last employer turned out to be the best: closed the office in Texas and relocated me to Wisconsin. My house is two miles away from the office. I still need a car: biking to work in the winter is just crazy.
'The plural of data is not anecdote' but .. sometimes you gotta just get a place to live and live with a commute that you know is going to change no matter what.
We have compromised by living in the middle, but we both need to commute for about 30-40 minutes to our respective work places. I view this as an investment in our future. Right now we are both building careers which will make us much more money in the long run than the cost of commuting.
Coverage is also really poor, especially in the southern areas (Cupertino, Campbell, etc.)
(Just to clarify: Biking in the Bay Area is really good. Public transit, at least in the South Bay, not so much.)
I grew up in Minneapolis, you should check out the bicycle commuting scene where you live. It varies by location, but in Minneapolis I was able to bicycle commute at least 4 days a week all winter long thanks to good plowing of bike paths, studded tires (only occasionally) and substituting a bus ride in right after significant snowfalls.
Winter bike commuting is not for everyone, but with the proper gear it's not as bad as it looks (less uncomfortable than getting in a cold car and waiting for it to warm up IMHO).
I think you also have to factor in safety. You will inevitably take chances over time and one of those chances could lead to an injury that keeps you from working or gives you lifelong pain. Either from a mistake you make or from someone in a car or bus. (Of course this can happen in dry weather as well...)
Statistically you can also use the historical weather info on http://www.wunderground.com to look over several years data for the winter.
In any case though, beyond reasonable precautions such as helmets and defensive riding, I'm not going to run statistics to figure out the safest way to live my life. Bicycle commuting in general isn't something I consider an extreme risk. I'd certainly rather take my chances at injury doing a real activity than become an invalid at age 60 because I never got any exercise—because if I have to go to a gym to get exercise "safely" it ain't gonna happen.
In a car one has restraints, a lot of armor to absorb impact, airbags. On a bike you've got ... a helmet.
Now, I don't have that luxury. I don't have a good place to store things, I don't have a good changing/cleaning area. I'm dreading the rain.
I just plan for the bike to be ruined and ride a crappy bike that I replace every so often.
The scrappy-looking dependable workhorse also has a side benefit of you not having to worry as much about it being stolen vs. something that still shines.
In my case it's not always practical - I like to come home for lunch, see the kids, have lunch with my wife.
There are plenty of tech companies here within walking distance, lots of job options and an OK startup scene.
Also, don't have a car. I use Zipcar or taxis when necessary (maybe 10 times a year). Not having to pay for a car, insurance and parking saves a lot of money. That savings makes living in more expensive city apartments more easy to afford.
Not having to drive to work is my number one job perk, and living in a city is much more enjoyable (to me at least) than not.
Further, government subsidization of sprawl and predatory suburban towns tend to push buyers towards new construction in exurban areas along interstates. Employers that do attempt to locate close to employees end up chasing the single-family households out to the outskirts, right into a dead end where then everyone must drive. Employers should locate in sustainable, dense, transit-friendly neighborhoods, ultimately giving their employees a choice.
They should, I guess.
* Rent is going to be steep in a place like that. I worked for a concern that took space in a very nice office building. Wood paneling! We had a walled lawn with trees outside. Offices, not cubes. Rent was far more than the generic building across the street.
It was great until we had to cut costs when the economy tanked. I prefer the cheap space, beige cubes and a job as opposed to laying folks off.
* Not all employers can do that. Your average dense transit-friendly neighborhood is not going to take kindly to an electronics concern opening up 100,000 sq/ft of manufacturing space, for example.
Industry took place at the center of the city alongside professional jobs. It's only relatively recently that it's been economical to locate distribution & light industrial jobs in dedicated, industrial zoned areas, now that workers have been conditioned to agree to subsidize the costs of cheap land. Further, local governments agree to extend infrastructure to these places almost exclusively for the benefit of these corporations.
We put industry in dedicated areas because living next to a factory that runs 24/7 is unpleasant.
Sweating is only a problem for most of you because you're unhealthy and overweight. You're overweight because you get no exercise. It's okay: I was too. Then I started cycling to work and lost 50lb. Now sweating's not a problem, and I can go significantly faster without showing up to work drenched.
On my old commute (7.5mi), I ended up getting it down to 20 minutes once I got in shape. Time to drive? 20 minutes. Except instead of arriving to work tired and pissed off, I would show up alert, awake, and having enjoyed some time out in the sun doing something fun. It completely changed my mindset at work, and got me off to a much better foot every morning.
Showering isn't a problem. Again, go slower until sweating is no longer an issue, then increase your speed to a point that you can still get to work without being drenched. If you still show up wet, or if you're wet from rain, bring a change of clothes. I infrequently had to, but it's not that hard to ride in wearing cycling clothing (which will, incidentally, keep you much drier) and bring a change of clothes with you. Go into the bathroom, change, and be on with your day. It takes less time than it would to find a parking spot for your SUV anyway.
Weather is, again, not a big deal. We as humans have invented clothing for all sorts of weather conditions, intersected with the requirements of all sorts of physical activities. Cycling is no exception. There's cycling clothing for rain, for cold, and for rain _and_ cold. It costs equivalent to about a week's worth of driving for you 30-minute commuters. Less if your commute is longer.
I mean, come on. Hacker News is a site supposedly full of entrepreneurial go-getters. And yet this guy gives you a way to save hundreds of thousands of dollars, your time, and your sanity, and all I hear is griping about how minor inconveniences make it completely impossible. Yeah, some of you are trapped between a rock and a hard place. Some of you are already owning impossible-to-sell property forty miles out in the 'burbs. But for the rest of you, quit making excuses and just give it a try — it's seriously not as hard or inconvenient as you're making it out to be.
Who knows? Maybe the next time your apartment is up for renewal you'll find yourself moving closer to the city rather than farther away for once. And you won't ever look back.
I don't know about that; body chemistries are very different. But more importantly, it sounds like you live in a place with reasonably cool, dry air. Some of us don't have that privilege.
It's good advice, don't get me wrong. I myself lead a largely carless life in -- of all places, rather improbably -- downtown Atlanta, and walk about a mile and a half to work each way, and pretty much walk everywhere else too.
But to think I could bike around here without getting sweaty is a practical impossibility, no matter what condition of fitness or body weight. It's extremely humid, though not quite as bad as the gulf coast. It's just not going to happen. So, I'd suggest for anyone in that set of circumstances to be pragmatic and bring a change of clothes and try to find a place where you can shower at work.
I agree with the body chemistry bit, though. Some people just can't do it, one way or another. But for the majority of people, it's just an excuse. And it's a convenient one because they frequently are already unhealthy or overweight.
That can be a quite challenge most months out of the year, and I'm in fairly good shape. But I walk quite faster than most people (can't really help it). Even in the winter, I just feel cold from the chilly wind while simultaneously sweating inside my coat. It's the quintessential "clammy" experience. This area of the country absolutely sucks, climactically, although not quite as badly as Houston, where I lived for a while.
Maybe for you... but I've always been quite fit, never overweight at all, but biking to work on a warm sunny day is a guaranteed way to arrive looking like I just stepped out of a shower with my clothes on. Heck, I can stand still in humid 90 degree heat in the sun, and be drenched after twenty minutes. Plus, most of us don't have shower facilities at work to clean off all the sweat -- do you expect me to lock myself in the work bathroom for 20 minutes while I take a sponge bath from the sink?
And how do you bring a change of clothes if you wear a dress shirt at the office? It doesn't matter how nicely you fold it; it will be horribly wrinkled and creased after sitting in a backpack. Bottom line: it's simply not professional, in a lot of cases. It isn't making excuses, and it really is as inconvenient as people say it is. And I say this as someone who does bike to work, on the few days out of the year that the weather makes it possible to (without sweating, freezing, or being rained on).
(Not saying you should emulate DD otherwise mind!)
Incidentally, I did try the going slower thing, but I don't know if it's Manchester's humidity but it didn't really make much difference! (This could have been that my mountain bike's gear were irrepairably stuck in top gear - least this city is flat!)
In theory, I'd also found a way around the sweat problem. A new gym opened around the corner from work, and had a special offer of £10 a month. I sold it to myself, that it was worth just to have a shower when I got to work - and I'd not have one before I left in the morning. As a bonus, it was a gym, and they're kinda full of fitness gear, so I managed to overcome my pretty entrenched fear of these gym place and booked a trainer to give me a personal training plan. I'd say it's beat my fear of gym's and 'that' kind! Anyways I'm sure this story may one day go on to to say I lost 50lb - I'd be happy with 1 stone tbh, but that job ended and now I'll be working much closer to home.... a 10 minute cycle / bus journey. So, a bit less exercise, but less faff.
Still hoping that one day I can buy a house, with a similar commute from work. Though my generation (mid-30s) is still priced out of the housing here unless you're in a couple, both on decent incomes. That's definitely changing though!!
At one point, I made a conscious trade-off to live in the city, even though I was working in the burbs, because it was closer to my friends and things to do (and I am a single man). I had a 30-35 minute per day commute through annoying Boston traffic but it was totally worth it.
As for the sweat issue, I have been cycle-commuting for well over a year and often it doesn't matter how slow I go, I will still sweat during most of the seasons around here. Genetically, I'm a moderate sweater. In the colder months, it's really hard to balance against biting cold and sweating. In the hot, humid months it just doesn't matter. After 5 minutes I'll be sweating, backpack or no. Luckily, I don't really care and am fine sitting at my desk in an undershirt while I cool off. I keep a change of clothes in my desk for meetings. Not everyone has that luxury, though.
I went through a phase of 9-mile cycle-commuting and there's absolutely no way I would have been able to show up without stopping by the gym to take a shower first. There is no pace slow enough that I would not sweat through at least one layer of clothes. Believe me, I tried.
Incidentally, being in shape or not has nothing to do with it. I've been active my whole life and have always sweat-- and know people who sweat much worse than me.
But once you reach a reasonable weight and are just gaining muscle and cardio power, added fitness level just allows you to emit more power for longer. But sweat levels are pretty much just related to power (how much heat you generate) - and of course cooling.
At Grandparent's speed (22.5 mph) on flat ground, he's going to produce massive power to overcome air resistance. The effective fan will help cool him down/dissipate sweat, but especially in body areas that don't get such a good air blast, he will end up soaked.
I'm in very good shape.
I'll sweat, particularly in humid weather, even if it's nominally cool out.
San Francisco, not commonly considered sultry, runs ~85% RH in the morning, year round.
Even a transit commute (warm busses/subways, and some hill walking) can leave someone pretty schvitzy. Taking 5-10 minutes to cool down, outside, can help.
That said: I agree that commute costs and time are best avoided.
...or you are luck to live on the top a hill and work in a dried lake bed.
20 minutes was my _record_, with me hauling ass as fast as I could possibly go. And for the record, I was drenched. But I brought a change of clothes and had a quick shower that day. :)
If you go from a 60 minute commute to a 0 minute commute, you don't suddenly get 2 hours of extra pay per day.
It's like saying "You don't get paid for that hour of chores you do every day - which means if you stop doing chores, you'll get more money!"
1) Commuting cost. The $0.17 as a minimum marginal cost per mile is reasonable. The IRS' $0.51 really can't be used as a margnal rate. Simply put, the operating cost of a car is not a linear function of mileage. There are exceptionally high fixed costs, namely depreciation, insurance, (some) maintenance and registration. Personally, as I only drive 7000 miles a year (well below car average), my car ownership costs per mile slightly exceed the IRS reimbursement rate. But my marginal rate is still extremely low - if I drove another 1000 miles a year, it'd cost maybe $200 more ($0.2/mile).
Attempting to average a minimum marginal cost and an optimistic estimate of car ownership per mile does not produce a valid estimate for average marginal cost.
2) Mileage to time conversion: I have no idea how he concludes that 1 mile = 6 minutes round trip. Living father away generally implies freeway utlization, where a marginal mile would be closer to 2 minutes round trip. (Anecdote: I live in SF. Thanks to the lack of freeway system within the city itself, a commute may be shorter (and use not much more gas) living 20 miles away from work in the suburbs than 7 miles away within the city borders).
3) Value of time. On a long commute, I'm not necessarily wasting time. Whenever I had one, I deferred actual reading I would otherwise do to podcasts.
I've always found the main benefit of a short commute is flexibility (go home and back in the middle of the day) and reduction of stress (traffic sucks). It is awesome to have a shorter commute, but in no way is it worth spending nearly $250k more on a house solely to live 15 miles closer to work for a typical person.
Then I started working in San Mateo... half the distance, but usually 25-30 minutes. Off-highway time increased, and on-highway decreased. Still, though, a far cry from 6 min/mile.
But I'm so much happier now that my commute involves only 6 blocks of walking and a 20 minute bus ride. I can even read on the bus! It's great, though the lack of control over my transportation still bothers me.
He completely lost me when he said people could change jobs to reduce the commute. Isn't there usually a reason that people are working where they are? Things such as chosen field and salary? We're not talking about teenagers working fungible minimum wage jobs here...
Everyone tries to minimize their commute times and where they end up living is a reflection of the compromise between different values. I think this article points out that people don't prioritize commute time enough because its only taken in small daily doses and that's a valid point, but that time is also not completely wasted if you can find something productive to do (e.g. listening to audiobooks, language lessions or relevant news).
Sure, but that reason would probably evaporate for a large enough raise. Which not having to commute is, if you look at it rationally.
Also, commuting an hour to a job sure beats not having a job in the same state as your significant other (my situation). I'm looking forward to moving to the same place and commuting soon. Commuting sucks, but you're optimizing for many things when choosing where to live, not just commute time.
Quite frugal on fuel (I get about 70 MPG, but I ride a fast 300cc scooter and don't have a light throttle hand), and I can do most regular maintenance (oil & filter mostly) myself.
I've had a few ~30mph scooter spills in the past three years - a couple of lowsides from loss of traction owing to cornering too harshly in poor weather and poor surfaces (scooters exacerbate this owing to not having much lean angle to play with), as well as an 18 year old kid in a car who pulled out of a parked position behind a bus and did a u-turn as I was overtaking the bus - but none the worse for wear other than a scratched visor and a slightly scraped elbow (and an insurance payout to replace my bike).
Ironically, I've travelled much further in total on my big bike (but over shorter time periods) with no incidents at all, yet was pushing myself through twisty mountain roads and much higher speeds. But I had the experience to watch extra carefully for road surface quality and dial right back in bad weather.
You've got to die sometime. You only have a short time on this planet. Do you want to live fearfully and protect all that you have until your grave (when you'll lose it all anyway), or do you want to go out and live a little?
At least on a motorbike you're more likely to hurt yourself than other people. I find driving a car, on the other hand, quite a scary experience owing to how large it is and how little vision you have of everything around you. It would be so easy to hit something small while reversing (a child, say), or clip something (like a cyclist) going around a corner.
(I should add that I rarely ever go on my scooter without protective jacket, and almost never on my big bike without protective trousers and boots too. I never ride without gloves or full-face helmet.)
What increases the risk profile with motorcycles is other cars hitting you directly while moving. Inattentive elderly people, young people, people in a hurry, whatever, it's something you don't have control over or an obvious indicator such as bad weather.
I too rode a scooter w/ armor for a year during my student days in a Seattle climate. It is somewhat fun, but there are more fun physical activities out there with less of a risk profile and non-regular occurrence. There were many times I wish I could be driving a car instead.
To me, it doesn't pass the 'Would I regret doing this if a somewhat uncommon screwup happened' test? Especially if I had to do it repeatedly. It's like having casual sex without a condom. It feels better, but your going to regret it majorly if you got a girl pregnant who doesn't want an abortion. Your going to fucking want to kick your past self and tell him to wear a condom. I would feel the same if I got into a major motorcycle accident.
The risks apply differently to motorbikes than cars because of how much less there is between you, the vehicle, and the environment. Alcohol affects you worse on a bike; misjudgement affects you worse, because most bikes brake worse than cars yet accelerate far faster. The temptation to twist the throttle and feel the acceleration, and the extra relative width of the road compared to the narrowness of a bike, all make you more likely on average to speed on a bike. Because of the acceleration, agility and small size, you can get away with maneuvers you could never do in a car - if you risk it.
In terms of fun - this is obviously a subjective judgement. You asked if I was put off by the risk profile; I explained why I am not, and clearly part of it is because I find it more fun than you do. It's particularly fun in London, because in the UK it is legal to filter / lane split: you generally skip to the front at red lights, overtake or go down the middle of traffic queues, and generally never have to stop for long because of traffic, even in the narrow streets of central London. The UK equivalent of US double-yellow lines are rare in urban areas; riding on the "wrong" side of the road to skip traffic is common. If I was condemned to ride in the multi-lane highways of the US, and forbidden from lane splitting, and didn't have to deal with London-style traffic, I'd probably drive a car too most days.
(When I ride bikes in California, where I can lane split, it's still not as fun as the UK, because there isn't enough traffic; the highways are too wide, too straight, have too many lanes, while the back roads have poor surfaces and low speed limits. Better than most of the UK again is the Eifel region in Germany / Belgium / Luxembourg, but it's a different kind of fun.)
As to regret, I believe you end up regretting the things you didn't do more than the things you did. I regret not learning how to ride sooner; I wish I'd done it years ago, when I still lived in Ireland. I rode a scooter in the UK on a provisional license for over a year before I got my full license and was able to ride something bigger than 125cc, and regret not passing sooner, having found out how easy it was to pass - it would have lead to lower insurance rates if nothing else. Growing up, I cycled everywhere, and I was always ambivalent about cars. I never had a desire to drive, and didn't learn until I was 29, and it still doesn't appeal to me. I drive reluctantly in rentals, mostly. But motorbikes were different; with every step, I've become more and more convinced that this is the motorized transport for me. It's become part of my identity; it's one of the best things I've ever done, and I regret much of the time I could have spent riding, but didn't.
This is pretty much my argument whenever someone takes objection to me flying small airplanes.
Motorcycling is easily one of the best things i've done, it puts a smile on my face every time i go out. Cheers!
Plus there's a bit of a story with those statistics. Death is way over the charts if you ride either under the influence, or without a helmet. Take away this, and also take away the larger number of accidents which happen in the first year of riding, and you're no longer at 4x.
I love my 50 minute commute. I use it to listen to podcasts and music. It gives me time to unwind and think. And most importantly, it came along with a raise that more than makes up for the monetary costs of driving.
I'd love a mass transit or car pooling solution, but I haven't run across a viable one yet.
Anyway, I really like my commute. Although, we'll see how it goes in the winter as roads get gross sometimes.
And even if you do calculate the real cost differential, I think for many people, living somewhere you really like is similar to taking a job that you really enjoy. I would take decreases in salary for an awesome work environment. Call me crazy, but if I have the ability to "pay" for sanity, I will. It's priceless.
The only alternative is the suburbs. It's tricky, but I found a place about 20 minutes and 20 miles away, but we looked for over a year. The schools are relatively good and the private schools tend to be a bit cheaper.
People don't want big houses (please show me the evidence that they want big houses), but big houses tend to cost more, which means the neighbors you'll likely have are people who are educated, well-behaved, friendly and have a good credit score. "Big houses" is a polite way of saying I don't want to live by people who can't afford a big house.
...I should also mention. Yeah, bus rides - you don't want to do that.
But yes, schools are a big deal, and often a deal-breaker on living close to work.
So very true. When I lived 60 minutes from work and this would happen, it was a freaking nightmare. If I was lucky, someone else would be on call, but if I wasn't, it meant a 2 hour round trip to fix what usually ended up being an unplugged cable of some sort. Sometimes it just needed a power cycle. -sigh-
... That wasn't the article? I wonder if the article is as insightful?
"And it also doesn’t count as using up your personal time because it is adding something that nobody except Olympic athletes is doing enough of anyway – exercise. You can take your 10 minute bike ride directly out of time you would have otherwise spent in the gym, or waiting in the doctor’s office for prescription medication."
I was wondering how he managed to eliminate that from his calculations. He didn't, of course. Some of us don't do either of the alternatives, so this really would be stealing the time from their day.
And 10 minutes? 5 minutes each way? I'm pretty sure that's all but impossible in most major cities.
And some of those car costs don't disappear when the commute does. You still have to -have- one to go shopping, on trips, and other errands around town.
And so you get to work after your 20 minute bike ride, and what do you do? Why, you go shower, of course! You were just biking for 20 minutes! Nobody wants to smell you. That takes more time from your down... Don't forget the shower when you get home, too! ... Your company doesn't have a shower? Good luck with that!
And danger! When you've got a ton of steel wrapped around you, you don't think much of the danger of the open road. But when the only thing keeping your brain away from the pavement is a little foam hat, the world is quite a bit scarier... Even if the drivers are playing nice!
Oh, lunch time. My favorite time, I'll just go get... Oh wait. I biked in today. I can't go very far... Guess I'm eating that bag lunch after all.
I choose my apartments for their proximity to work. And I love having a short commute... But even when I -could- bike, I rarely did. There were just too many problems with it.
As a full-time bicycle commuter I have to say that your complaints are more minor inconveniences than serious problems. Do I have to shower after biking 9 miles to work? No, a change of clothes is sufficient. Am I limited to where I can go to lunch? Not compared to my colleagues who mostly walk to lunch, I can easily cover a mile radius of restaurants, and I can do it faster than anyone who opts to drive because of traffic and parking.
Granted if you have to ride open highway or wear a suit to your job, then the downsides become much stronger, but I naturally factor those into my living choices. I would never live in a distant suburb or work an an extremely isolated office park.
The point of all this is simply that I don't view bicycle commuting as some big sacrifice that I make for abstract reasons. I save money and I am more productive at work.
But most of the time it did not.
And no, I'm not too conditioned to take the driving problems for granted. I really, really, really hate them. I go to great lengths to avoid them. But my solution to them wasn't a bike: It was living somewhere that didn't have them.
There's no traffic to or from work. There no problem parking, as everywhere near my work and home has free, open parking lots. There isn't much cost, because I don't drive far. (Remember that I need the car for shopping and errands anyhow, so that cost is sunk. It's also well-kept, low-mileage and cheap.)
So in trying to refute me, you haven't proven me wrong. I was refuting the article, and proving that every situation is different. You came along and proved the exact same thing.
But the author's examples and 'calculations' are just this side of garbage.
You spend one third to one fourth of your life sleeping. Just idling away time. Wait - a 10 minute shower everyday as well? And 10 minutes for breakfast? And a 30 minute lunch? You're wasting a lot of time. Better get your productivity a notch up.
Linking to his blog post in this way is tantamount to implying that the commenters on this thread are "complainypants", which I find quite rude. If that wasn't his intention, then he certainly could have done a much better job communicating it.
(This is my last post on this topic.)
But after about 10 minutes I realized that the author wasn't making a financial argument from the numbers, he was making an emotional argument with hand-waved numbers for garnish. And that, despite my interest in the issue and agreement with his conclusion, it simply wasn't worth that kind of time.
 e.g. $200/20,000 miles for car costs beyond oil/gas/tires is laughably low; ignoring parking/toll costs in the no-commute/used-car case; considering lost time in the commuting case but not lost-personal time in the no-commute case; assuming financing in the commuting case and savings for a used car in the no-commute case; ... generally just considering worst-case for the commuting case and best-case for the no-commute case in almost all things
But, yeah, there is a certain irony if this was caused by a remote connection issue.
I moved to San Francisco, 32 miles away. I was commuting everyday at 9:30 and 7 and getting to/from work in 30 minutes flat. No stoplights. And I enjoyed living here much more.
Now I have a roommate I commute with that works near me, except she wants to work at rush hour times, so we spend 40 minutes in traffic each way, which drives me nuts, but we switch out driving every other week so it's mostly worth it, and I love where I live now because I can walk places when I get home and drive less.
It's not always black and white.
The higher cost of rent offsets the savings in travel costs.
It's not inconceivable that many people have their offices in a crowded area like downtown Chicago - so they'd be facing the same issue.
But I'm doing it to save time and energy.
Although, again, suburban areas tend to have cleaner air and bigger houses - much better for health than a studio apartment near a high traffic road.
I'd say if you can telecommute, to live in the suburbs is a no-brainer.
If you have to travel, car-pooling and public transport are better options than driving yourself to work everyday.
That commute is the main reason I've never entertained any thought of joining MSFT. The choices are to live in comically stereotypical suburbia, or to suffer that commute daily.
Amazon is hiring...
Yes, there would be some large costs too, but the benefits are staggering.
My wife has been doing bike commuting to work whenever possible.
Hard to get my daughter to her pre-school without car.
Ok so here goes, in 2 years when my lease is up:
I will save $5500 on my car payments + insurance (NYC). I will then save probably another 3-4k or so on gas costs... So that's about 8-9k give or take.
From 8-9k, subtract about 2k in car needs. We will have additional expenses that are met with a car like taking kid to doctor that is not easily reachable. So a cab here or there (eh its not expensive) and renting zipcar here and there.
We already shop fresh direct so it wont change our shopping too much.
So thats about 6-7k that I save per year. That means I can pay about 500-580 more for an apartment. Or just buy an ipad every month, or just save that money for future needs. Maybe spend an extra 1-2k on transportation needs a year. Basically cars are expensive. Incredible that people would work for minimum wage and still commute like this, its unthinkable.
Here is the Web Cache:
If you're at all interested in this and would like to have a better idea what your commute is costing you (other than time) check it out :)
This only leaves the cost of time, but IMHO that argument doesn't hold; most people consider their off time to be worth less, when expressed in dollars, than their on time. It's the same reason why many people with good incomes choose to paint their own house rather than work more and hire a painter.
Finally, I think the author forgets about love. If my dream job is 30 miles this way, and my partner's is 20 miles the other way, the total commuting will be the same no matter where we live along that line.
This little line here has a huge effect on the computation, because it assumes you are only traveling at 20 mph on your commute. So all this only applies if you are in a heavy traffic area or commuting to a city center.
There are a lot of things keeping people poor. Bad education. Inequality of opportunity. Poor parenting. Commuting is only one of many. There article is definitely missing substitution effects. The commute may be reducing your working hours, but it's also reducing your TV hours. (And family hours!)
I shake my head at colleagues with 3-4 hour daily commutes. I think both their careers and their personal lives suffer. That said, the article has gone a litte too extreme.
I also ran the math on the driving vs. commuting found my car is about $7.26/trip + my personal lost time. Train is roughly $4.53/trip and there's a subsidy I take that brings that to ~$1.20/trip
I don't think I would drive anyway (usually take the train) but on the off chance I want to the stress of finding/paying for a park puts me off.
It encourages you to catch the train, which is better for everyone around you, because you don't have to drive.
Was just saying that it is another factor for those from the outer suburbs wanting to drive have to factor in and probably costs more than petrol or car maintenance. I definitely wouldn't want to drive, but on the off chance I do it is something I notice.
It's interesting Melbourne now as the outer suburban fringes, places like Mernda, are so far away that you be almost crazy to think that buying a house out there and commuting to the inner city daily for work would be a good idea.
Mobility matters. I'd rather take the highest paying work within 500miles vs. the highest paying work within 10miles. Also moving is not as trivial as he would make it seem.
I'm burning 2 hours of my life, each and every day...depressing.
I will move closer when my lease runs out, but I won't sell the car. I enjoy being able to travel this great state of Florida.
Edit: 20 minute drive to the rail station with a five minute wait to board, then a one-hour train ride, then a 25 minute 1.25 mi walk. Both ways. Sometimes in snow.
She doesn't do that anymore. Now she drives 10 minutes maximum each. The less stress is very noticeable, both for her and me.
I used to commute from Brooklyn to Darien, CT. I'd leave home at about 6:00 am and get there just around 8:30. After about 2 months, I'd had enough...
On top of that, it isn't cheap! When you commute out of grand central in the morning, you pay a peak fare.