The Long Drive: Commuting By Car

Posted by: | August 13, 2010

In May I started commuting to UBC by car.  I loved my previous world of bike commuting to UBC, but biking all the way to/from Squamish (where I now live and belong) is a bit much for me!  The TREK Office was great about helping me when I was a bike commuter, so I just want to give them a little apology for being yet another car on the road to UBC.

I have to say that being in a car 4 days/week can be a bit challenging, particularly on Friday.  Traffic can be a bit hellish on the bridges on the way home.  I’m fortunate to telecommute 1 day/week (see more information about telecommuting here).  I have managed to make my drive a little more fun with things like:

1. Carpooling: I had great company.  Unfortunately, I’m without a carpool buddy right now, but hopefully I’ll find another one soon.

2. Books on CD: I use the time to learn while I drive. The last book I listened to was “A Complaint-Free World.”  It was interesting to consider how often I complain, and how that might be impacting my life.

3.  Good Tunes: Music certainly makes the time pass more quickly. It is especially fun when I get some goofy song playing, in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic.  I like to look ridiculous, singing my heart out as everyone around me scowls and shakes their heads.  It’s nice to counteract all that negativity.

While I do love driving my car, I have to say that there are some major aspects of bike commuting that I miss.

1. In my car, I am SO much more likely to get a nasty honk (and some special hand motions, I might add), than a positive gesture of any kind. That can impact you negatively on the way to work.  On a bike, people generally say “Hello” or “Good morning” or at least give a nice little wave or slight smile.  That positive energy can really brighten your day!

2.  I miss fitting in my workouts on the way to/from work. For those of you who don’t think it’s a workout to ride from Kits to UBC- you should try doing that Point Grey hill on a very heavy 6 speed cruiser bike.  Biking to work also ensured that I was active during the week, and not just on the weekends.

3.  I miss biking to/from meetings sometimes.  It was a fun way to get around on campus (and quicker than my legs can walk!).

4.  I worry about accidents a lot more now.  With so much more commute time, I know that my likelihood of being in an accident is much higher.  Since a bad car accident in 2005, which I still have neck/back problems from, I have been really worried about what another one would do to me.  In fact, I recently had some folks from the BC Children’s Hospital contact me who have been doing research on whiplash prevention.  I’m surprised to find out that the car that I have has a really poor rating for head restraints.  I had never even considered this when I was looking at cars.  If you want to check out the rating for your vehicle, you can go here.

So how are you making your way to work each day?  What ways do you make it more pleasant?  What would make it better?

Filed under: Suzanne Jolly | Tags: , , , , ,

5 Responses to “The Long Drive: Commuting By Car”

  1. Kristi says:

    I’m all about biking to UBC, but ironically during bike to work week I tore my knee cartilage biking up the hill to UBC! Since then I’ve had to resort to transit…but at least it’s good for the environment. Can’t wait to get on my bike again..although it is a bit scary out there being a cyclist.

  2. sjolly says:

    Oh the irony of getting injured biking during B2WW! That’s horrible!
    You mention it’s a bit scary being a cyclist- have you taken a Streetwise Cycling workshop with the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition by any chance? (http://www.vacc.bc.ca/cycling/cycling.php?pageID=41) We offered one, in collaboration with the TREK program, as part of B2WW, and I heard great things!

  3. Mel says:

    I cycle to work most days of the week and it has an incredible impact on my day, everything about my day goes better. My commute is long from East Van but worth it, I see the world differently when I take any other form of transportation. In fact I cycle most days of the year everywhere I go, although I am very hesitant about locking my bike up in many parts of town, having had 3 stolen over the years. This morning the rain was falling so heavily that I wimped out and lazily got on a crowded bus, I had trouble just getting out of bed! At the end of the day I will notice a big difference not having my bike, usually when I get on my bike I am busy paying attention to the road and drivers and other cyclists and so I cannot think about my day or ruminate about anything. Much healthier I think.
    The other problem with cycling in a downpour is that I arrive very wet and we do not have proper end-of-trip facilities in my building. I now have to share an office and am concerned others will not appreciate my wet clothes strewn about, and they may not dry without air and warmth.
    Any suggestions how to deal with wet gear?

  4. Suzanne says:

    I used to use the Birdcoop (free) showers to get ready for work after riding my bike, and I know there were some regular bike commuters who rented lockers there.
    But I spoke with Adam from the TREK Office and he said he’ll chime in on here to give you his idea about dealing with wet gear! (Thanks Adam!)

  5. Adam Cooper says:

    Hi Mel,
    I cycle everyday as well and know the pains of having to get into wet gear at the end of a long day. Unfortunately we don’t have any great solutions for people facing this common problem, but were working on it! TREK has initiated a project with the Sustainability office through their SEEDS Program to produce a clothes drying device that could be integrated into our secure bicycle storage facilities across campus. We have also re-written design guidelines as part of the updated Vancouver Campus Plan, mandating that all new buildings have showers, lockers and secure storage, providing cyclists with a place to hang their wet clothing.
    As for existing buildings that don’t provide this amenity, I suggest contacting your facility manager or building manager and finding out if there is any way you can get locker space or at least some clothes drying hooks somewhere in your building. Hope that helps!

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