Saturday, January 17, 2009

Learning to be less car-dependent

Bob and I have a car...but only 1 car. We are really grateful for this dependable car, and it has not been a problem to share long as Bob was taking classes on campus and didn't need it very much! In the past few months, I started working at World Vision, and Bob was doing his church internship and now his hospital chaplaincy, which required much more need for transportation than we were used to.

Knowing that transportation would be a challenge, it has been my goal for several months to learn to take the bus in Pasadena. I must admit that I had lived here nearly 2 years and had never taken the public bus. Not only that, but while I lived in the Chicago I also failed to take the bus, so I was very naive about the system. But I did have lots of experience with a bike, so last summer I bought a used mountain bike and started using that for errands around town.

Then, in December I bit the bullet, analyzed the bus maps online, and took my first bus-ride to work. I was so thrilled I did it nearly 3 times in a week! There were so many benefits! I finally had the opportunity to read--something I usually do only get to when travelling. I was forced to slow down my pace (you can't plan 'to the minute' like when driving) and I got to mix with that segment of society that doesn't drive or own their own car (a very multi-cultural and interesting segment!). I also felt like I was earning points for being energy-efficient and not driving. Then, of course, there are the drawbacks. First, time: It takes me 10 minutes to drive the 8 miles to work, and a full hour to get there by bus (including walking time). You also are much more 'in tune' with the weather...a positive, in the end, but a challenge when it is cold and rainy or very hot.

So, we are adjusting. Both of us have volunteered to bike or use trains or buses in the last few months when our schedules collided. With our current schedules we are even more conscious of the extra effort it takes to not jump in the car for every whim. It is very worth it...we are happy for this extra motivation to use alternative methods of transportation. But we are also realizing that it is unusual in LA, and does require extra planning and time. I heard it quoted on NPR, "nobody who is anybody takes the bus in LA!" Perhaps that is a testimony to the quality and efficiency of the system...but we press on! :)

Our current methods: Bob is carpooling with 2 other interns to the hospital. We are also taking the bus and biking when we can--and looking forward to longer hours of daylight. And my latest victory was this week...I managed to take my bike ON the bus! Fortunately, when the bus arrived there was someone else there who helped me load the bike...the rack was a bit tricky for my uninitiated hands. Perhaps this is the best benefit...learning to adapt and do something new! :)

1 comment:

Kiki said...

Very funny about the NPR quote! And look at you little Miss Blogging Machine :-) 3 in about a week!

Thanks for understanding my slower pace on Wednesday! Hope the rest of your week went well.

Love ya!