A 4-Mile Commute Done 5 Different Ways
by Julia Bernstein
My daily commute to work can fluctuate between enjoyable, stressful, and energizing, depending on what mode of transport I use. To put my multi-modal skills to the test, I used a different commute method every day for a week. Here’s how my 4ish-mile commute from Sunnyside to Capitol Hill went down each morning.
(24 minutes + 8 minutes to park and walk to my office)
Normally my husband uses our shared car for his commute, but he was away on a business trip this week. Even with a 7:30 a.m. departure, there was a lot of traffic. Plus, I had to account for time to find street parking near my office and the resulting walk. This is a convenient option if I need to transport anything bulky, but most times I would need to drop off my husband at Union Station on my way, and that would eliminate the time savings over other methods.
1 hour, 11 minutes
(51 minutes running + 20 minutes to shower and get dressed)
Running is the most active of my transportation options, and I am fortunate to have a shower in my office building which makes it a viable choice. I pack a change of clothes and lunch in my daypack and take off. By 8am, my commute and workout are done for the day. You can’t beat the efficiency of doing both activities at once, but it’s definitely a less appealing option when it’s sub-freezing or icy outside.
(27 minutes biking + 7 minutes to cool off and change clothes)
When I bike, I don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic, finding parking, or leaving at a certain time to catch the bus, which is great. This is definitely the best option when I’m adding stops to or from work, for example, to meet up with a friend or go to a doctor’s appointment. I’m still a fairweather biker, but maybe this will be the winter I develop a thicker skin to take advantage of biking’s flexibility and efficiency year-round.
(22 minutes walking to carpool + 34 minutes in the car)
I live a little over a mile from one of my coworkers, and she graciously agreed to drive me, with the caveat that our trip would include preschool drop-off for her two-year-old. This was not the most efficient morning of the week, but it was definitely the most social and entertaining. I got to enjoy a walk to her house and some fun times in the car, during which her daughter sang songs and discussed the sizes of our ponytails with us. Even including the walk, preschool drop-off, and parking, I was still at the office in less than an hour from when I left my house.
(27 minutes on the bus + 14 minutes walking to and from bus stops)
I closed out the week by riding the bus to work, which is how I commute most often. I didn’t have to plan ahead or pack a change of clothes, which was nice after a week of planning and tracking my commute. I enjoy the time to relax, read books and listen to podcasts on the bus. Having reliable public transportation close to our house is what enables us to remain a one-car family, so I’m grateful for this convenient option that runs rain, snow, and shine.
Writing this blog post helped me realize how lucky I am to have so many options for commuting, and how each one has its benefits and challenges. If you have a few extra minutes to spare for commuting and the will to explore a multi-modal life, you might discover some more commute options too.