Monday, July 21, 2008

An Odyssey - Or It's Damned Hard Without A Car!

The US is designed to be traversed by car. From the smallest cow-towns to even the largest cities, most are spread out as to be almost impossible to navigate without a privately owned vehicle of some kind. (Noted exceptions being New York and Chicago.)

My city is like this. A typical college town, any buses provided navigate the city/college center and are primarily for use by college students. The rest of us use private vehicles to get to work and run errands.

I would have never really thought of this, until I decided to green my life. In some ways (gas prices) it was forced on me, but maybe that's what it will take for the majority of Americans to change their habits, their urban planning and their mindsets.

Recently, my car started acting up in a big way. I had been exploring 'greener' options for some time (bus routes, bikes, more fuel efficient cars), but suddenly this was upon me and I had to act fast.

Problem was, there was little to no action to be taken.

Buses did not run from where I live to where I needed to work. I could bike it, it's only 10 miles each way, but what to do with a 10 year old? The highway we live off of isn't geared towards cyclists of any kind; it is solely the province of motor vehicle drivers. I finally landed upon the idea of carpooling.

So, I put up a notice in the main center of my mobile home park, but got few takers. It's still up, so we'll see what happens.

I called the local 'Florida Works' office, and they directed me towards the GreenRide site. I've registered there and also at this place, so we'll see what turns up.

I'm trying to put as few miles on my vehicle as possible until some resolution about the car can be made.

As for buses, I'm a rather disappointed there. Due to budgetary constraints, the city has cut routes and frequency of buses, and increased fares. Which stinks, because as a City employee I can ride buses for free. Unless I want to move into town and rent an apartment again, buses are out for me.

I blogged about it here: I Would Like To Ride The Bus.

Right now we're not investing enough into mass transit, light rail or bus systems. The old mindset still holds true; we cut valuable programs that we should be shoring up in the long run, and we seem still unable to prioritize.

It's a bit frustrating, really.


mary(Crone) said...

We have a pretty good bus system here in the Seattle-Tacoma metro area, at least if you're going north-south. We have light rail that is relatively new between cities, but it's very limited as to times. But to do grocery shopping is a challenge because while it may be on a bus route, you have to transfer and go far out of your way to get east-west.
They are working on improvements though.

xysea said...

I hope so, Mary. Because we're probably going to all be taking it in the future! lol Thanks for coming by, I'd missed seeing you!

Candace said...

Our bus routes here are about the same. They normally run around the center of the city, barely touching the outskirts. I've often thought of carpooling myself and I keep running into the dilema of with five boys in our house, what if something comes up and I need to leave work? (Which happens often, lol) As for biking, same here. They're getting better, but still, the main roads aren't anywhere close to being safe or safely designed to accomodate cyclists and the drivers around here ... I don't want to ride around them on a bike. Still exploring options here :)

xysea said...

I feel you. I've often thought of moving into a city, but when I talk to purpledogstar he says that mode of living has its pitfalls, too.

In the end, it will probably take a huge amount of money and that's a bit scarce at the moment.

purpledogstar said...

I like city living over all. I guess the best thing is to have access to public transport and a car.

xysea said...

Yes, but if you live in a city, isn't it expensive to store your car?

Tammie said...

This was a huge bonus of living overseas. In Asia and in Europe I was able to get by fine without even owning a car. I really miss that. We saved so much money and I was in better shape from walking and biking everywhere.