Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Good Commute

I seem to have an endless supply of energy for shows about fixer uppers, moving to Hawaii, and deciding to love it or list it. Every now and then, particularly when the weather is why-did-I-ever-leave-San-Francisco bad, we load up Zillow and begin peering at houses around various cities. One lesson I've learned over and over again is that one person's bad commute is another person's normal commute.

For example, this is from the well-designed site about the nearby Round Rock:

The commute can be AWFUL. See if you can avoid driving to and from Austin on I-35 every day.

I dug a little deeper, which was easy with the estimated commute times map. The commute to Round Rock during rush hour is estimated between 45 and 75 minutes. If you're a suburbanite, this is clearly an awful commute. Here's some anecdotal data:

  • My dad's commute was about 15 minutes (six miles)
  • My mom's commute is about 15 minutes (six miles; different place)
  • My girlfriend's dad's commute is about five minutes (two miles)

My story has been far different. Since heading to Chicago in late 2008, I have rarely seen a 15-minute commute to work.

  • Chicago #1: 40 minutes L train (six miles)
  • Chicago #2: 40 minutes express bus; 60 minutes regular bus (five miles)
  • Little Rock: 20 minutes car (eight miles)
  • San Francisco: 50 minutes muni; 25 minutes bicycle (four miles)
  • Toronto: 50 minutes TTC; 35 minutes car (seven miles)

From these experiences, my idea of the perfect commute is 20 minutes by bicycle.

What's a good commute? What's an awful commute?