From MSN Money, 02.11.08:
America's killer commuteAs a survivor of a suburban childhood, I will never mow a lawn again, let alone pay for the "privilege" of yardwork with car payments and fuel bills. I'm happy to enjoy parks maintained by union-scale professional municipal gardeners.
To afford a middle-class lifestyle, many workers are trading in time at home for time on the interstate. No wonder Americans feel they are literally out of time.
Colin Deaso, 30, travels more than an hour each way from his home in Sterling, Va., to his financial-services job in Washington, D.C. He leaves the house at 6:30 a.m.; in the evening, he waits until he thinks traffic has cleared, getting home by about 7 p.m. "I despise sitting in traffic," Deaso says. "Don't get me wrong -- it's difficult to leave early in the morning. But we could afford a bigger home here."
Sacrificing hours each day on the road seems like a necessary trade-off to many Americans. Many are willing to move farther away from their jobs as long as weekend time is spent in communities they like, where they can afford the kinds of homes they want.
"We've seen decentralization for decades now," says Patricia Mokhtarian, a professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at the University of California, Davis. "People are having to travel further away not just to have a house but to have a three-bedroom house with a yard..." (Read more.)
Earlier I posted on the insanity of the built environment in much of the U.S.--a built environment of low-density sprawl, which discourages bicycling, walking, and transit use. Here we have a multimedia article on long distance commuting, reinforcing the diminished community resulting from sprawl. People who commute more than an hour each way are less likely to attend school board or city council meetings, are less likely to volunteer for a local organization, are less likely to attend a play or concert on a weeknight, are less likely to dedicate quality time to their families. Community suffers, alienation increases.
According to this article--the latest among many "super commuter" stories in recent years--people move to distant communities seeking larger homes, spacious yards, better schools, lower costs. Sprawl costs public agencies money to support, as new infrastructure and services are required. The result is cities deprived of resources to create affordable housing, clean and well-maintained parks, quality public urban schools, and effective low-cost transit.
Transportation bicycling flourishes in denser urban areas, as distances are reduced between destinations (schools, jobs, retail, entertainment.) Bike commuting is more appealing when your job is located in a convenient location, and not many miles away in a sprawling office park off the freeway.
"Extreme commuting" is a pathological symptom of the insanity of the built environment in the U.S. Life is too short to waste it cutting grass.
Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site