Guaranteed Ride Home: A Real-Life Experience

ComconNot everyone who reads this blog may be familiar with the Commuter Connections' Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) Program. I had occasion to use it on Friday, and no one else in my office was aware of it--even though they all bus or Metrorail to work (except one driver). I was happy to pass along the info (which you can get here).

Unfortunately, it was an unhappy situation that created my need for it. I was biking to work on my usual bike commute from Arlington to Silver Spring. About 1/2 of my commute is along the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT). The CCT is a well used bike commuting route, but after the latest snowstorm, it received no attention whatsoever. There are still sections--particularly east of Bethesda--that are dangerously icy. I went down on an icy patch and injured my thumb. I continued to my office. At first my thumb didn't hurt too much, but it continued to swell and the pain increased, so I decided it would be best to get it x-rayed (10 years ago I broke my thumb in a bike wreck, and this seemed very similar). Since it wasn't life threatening, I decided to go home first and see my local doctor rather than go to a Silver Spring-area emergency room. Url
I called GRH, and they ordered a minivan cab for me (to carry me and my bike both). It was there in less than 10 minutes and took me all the way home to Arlington for free.

Thankfully, the thumb isn't broken--just sprained. Now what can we do to get local jurisdictions to do something about ice and snow on the multi-use trails? It's been well more than a week since the snow, and there are still unpassable sections on the CCT.

HOT Lanes Won't Siphon Off Riders

Tdm_3I noticed an article in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reporting on a VDOT report about future commuting behavior along I-95 when HOT lanes are completed. I was unable to find the report results on VDOT's site, so I have to depend on the Free Lance-Star for what details I could glean.

The gist of the survey results is that the vast majority of vanpoolers, carpoolers, sluggers and train riders will continue to use their same mode to commute along the I-95/I-395 corridor after HOT lanes are built and implemented. In fact, the type of commuter most likely to change their behavior is the SOV driver, presumably to another, more congestion- and environment-friendly mode. For people who are concerned that the construction of HOT lanes would siphon a lot of riders out of HOV modes into their SOV vehicles, this is a heartening result.

The survey polled 3,289 commuters. Here's how many said they would will stick with their current method of commuting:

95 percent of vanpoolers
91 percent of bus riders
86 percent of train riders
82 percent slugs
81 percent of carpoolers
53 percent of solo drivers

Car Free in Milwaukee!?

Milwaukee1A couple of weeks ago I was riding the Metro and overheard an interesting interaction. A newbie rider got on, and a conversation ensued between her and a couple of other riders, who seemed to be regulars. She mentioned that she was from Milwaukee, and one of her interlocutors mentioned that he had gone to college there a decade or so ago. So, as people will, they chatted about various places they knew in common and were having quite a pleasant little talk. Then out of nowhere the gentleman who had gone to college there said, ". . .and it's easy to live there without a car."
What a surprise!--for a couple of reasons.

First, the whole idea of relating to a stranger that living without a car is an advantage in our car-culture society was quite unusual. And second, Milwaukee is not a city that immediately comes to mind when one thinks of places to live without owning cars.

So if they can do it in Milwaukee, then the Car-Free diet in Arlington should be even easier. Those of you who read Chris Balish's How to Live Well Without a Car may recall that the author started out in St. Louis, which is probably not that dissimilar from Milwaukee for living car-free.