By Nathan Manworren, Transportation Working Group Intern
Today, we will be talking about that unfortunate thing we all have to do—move from point A to point B. Seriously, wouldn’t life be so much better if we could just beam ourselves from one point to another, Star Trek style? Or, even better, if we did not have to move and could still get everything done that we wanted to? Well, until Willy Wonka works out the kinks in his television transmitted food process, until Amazon figures out drone delivery, and until we are no longer needed at work or school, we are stuck needing to commute.
This commute can take many forms—walking, biking, skating, carpooling, busing, or driving among others. With so much choice, sometimes it is hard to know what would be best. Believe it or not, there is no best way, but there is a worst way—driving alone. Don’t believe me? Keep reading, it might surprise you.
1. Driving alone is lonely.
It’s also boring. When you drive alone, you have no one to dance, sing, banter, talk, or laugh with. You also do not have anyone to play I Spy or the license plate game with. How sad is that? The worst part of it all, though, is that when you make a wrong turn or get lost, you have no one to blame! An easy solution for the lonely blues, find a friend and carpool, bus, or get a group and walk or bike together. That way, you can show off how funny you are and how good your voice is…well, show off the fact that you know all of the words at least.
2. Driving alone is expensive.
Think about it, what else do you buy that loses half its value right when you take ownership? Not to mention the fact that insurance comes next, then gas, then maintenance (tires and oil), then cleaning the car (inside and out), then those dreaded parking fines, then those dreaded traffic tickets, and then, when you think it cannot get any worse, your car breaks down…in the winter…and your phone is dead. Instead of a financial headache, consider walking for free, bussing in Bloomington (free for students!), biking for a few hundred dollars a year (about the equivalent of a month’s worth of car payments or, for some, just insurance!), or even carsharing (Zimride at IU is as cheap as $25 a year). One thing the Transportation Working Group is spearheading this year is bringing bike sharing to IU. If this happens, bike sharing would get even cheaper on a yearly basis. It just goes to show that saving green can also save the world’s green as is seen in number four.
3. Driving alone is unhealthy.
It is stressful mentally, physically, and emotionally. In point one above, I covered a bit of the emotional stress that is accrued. In addition to the loneliness, though, driving alone and driving in general is at times infuriating, horrifying, frightening, and depressing—sometimes all at the same time (i.e. construction, traffic jam, and road rage all in one—a hallmark of Bloomington it seems sometimes). Driving is also mentally taxing. Every moment on the road, one must remain vigilant, accounting for speed limits, street signs, directions, and, especially, other drivers. Have you ever wondered why at the end of a car ride you feel utterly drained? It takes a lot to be a safe driver. And to round it off, the physical stress on the body is constant as we all know too well from the back, butt, and neck strain that we feel after a long ride. Not to mention the fact that sitting for those commutes is a lost opportunity to get fresh air (instead of breathing in the fumes from the cars around us), to get exercise, and to appreciate the natural beauty around us that is zooming by when we drive. Walking and biking are great alternatives to bring humanity back in sync with nature, all while getting fresh air, and avoiding the obesity epidemic. If active transportation is not a choice, carpooling, carsharing, and public transportation are great ways to take the strain (or share the strain) off of the mind—emotionally and psychologically. Let someone else take the mental stress away, while you get to be productive, zone out, day dream, or prep for your big day in the passenger seat.
4. Driving alone kills the earth.
Driving alone is the least sustainable mode of travel. The emissions per person are the most intense when one drives alone. In addition to the emissions being the worst per person, the energy required to produce such a high number of single-occupancy cars is also immense when takien in total, significantly more per person than any other mode of travel. With increasingly ominous predictions about our world and its climactic climate future, we must all wonder to ourselves, why am I still driving alone? The benefits to the earth from sharing our emissions output, or in the best mode of travel, having only the output of our breath, is the clear path to making the world healthier. Fortunately, Indiana University has many great ways to do this. Check them out here: http://www.indiana.edu/~sustain/Working%20Groups/transportation/programs-resources.php
Thanks for reading! Remember, there is not always a best way to do transportation, but there is definitely a worst way. You have a choice. What is holding you back?