Is convenience the drug that salves commuting guilt?
I sometimes catch the bus at the busy Fremont intersection of 34th and Fremont here in Seattle. I’d estimate that at least 90 percent of the vehicles heading west over the Fremont Bridge have one occupant. This, of course, frustrates me to no end.
Here are all these people heading in the same general direction, at the same time. I’ve often wanted to stand on the side of the road with a sign that reads, “Your car seats four, why are you driving alone?”
So, why are they driving alone? Richard Seven attempts to answer this question in the most recent edition of The Seattle Times‘ Pacific Northwest Magazine.
Here is one of my favorite snippets from the piece:
Convenience is the drug that salves commuting guilt.
And here is another gem:
So we drive alone and pine for relief as we idle. We spew outrage at the price of gas while we burn it into fumes. We whine about clogged roads as we help clog them. We grumble about Sound Transit yet we throw Monorail Hail Marys. We’re addicted to flexibility but completely inflexible about what commuting options we will accept. Some experts say it boils down to control.
So, the possible answer boils down to convenience and control — or, rather, the lack of it. What do you think? Also, how can we encourage more people to change their commuting behavior?
Personally, I would love it if Seattle implemented a system where the arrival time of the next bus was displayed at the bus stop (like I’ve seen in London). This would help reduce the anxiety I sometimes experience when running late. It would be very helpful in deciding whether or not I should walk to another bus stop.
In my book, a well-informed rider is a happy rider.