Thursday, January 15, 2009

The End of an Era

It’s official – we are now a two car family. Of course, I’m happy to have a car but at the same time, I’m wistful and nostalgic.

For the past four years, Seth and I have taken a lot of pride in our choice to share a car, driving it only when necessary and using alternative means of transportation whether it is commuting via bicycle, walking, carpooling, or taking the T or bus. As an environmental engineer, Seth is hard pressed to utilize alternative means because he often has to meet with clients or do work “in the field.” Fieldwork usually means long days from early morning to late night in remote locations and using heavy equipment. All in all this means that he has to drive. However, he commutes on his commuter bike as often as he can and sometimes even utilizes his mountain bike as “field equipment”. Occasionally, he has to “hike” in to places that do not accommodate a motor vehicle to collect groundwater samples. When such a need arises, he brings his mountain bike to reach several sampling spots within the area. As you can imagine, it’s much quicker than hiking and of course a lot more fun.

I on the other hand don’t really have the opportunity to integrate mountain biking or bike commuting into my daily routine. I too often have to meet with clients at a moment’s notice in my full fledged attorney wear. Ahem. A suit. And, despite my desire to ride, all routes to the office are treacherous and fraught with interstate travel, on/off ramps, high speed travel ways. There’s no good way to get there plus there are no direct bus routes. And even if I could get here, my office does not have shower facilities which would allow me to freshen up for client meetings and court appearances which is a MUST in these Austin summers.

While living in Boston, I used alternative means daily. I commuted via bicycle on fair weather days and utilized public transportation on rainy, cold, and snowy days. Sometimes, on really, really cold days, Seth would go out of his way to drive me to class or work. I loved those days. I miss living in a city where you can go anywhere in the City without driving – as long as you lived near the T or a bus stop. Once Seth and I walked home from Fenway Park – it was a long walk and one that no one would want to do on daily basis but one could. On nice days, I would stroll all over Boston after class. One day I walked from the Theatre District to the MFA. Yet another long walk that no one wants to do on a daily basis but could.

I know. I could always move closer to where I work but then Seth would be left without the opportunity to commute on his bicycle. The only way that we could successfully commute is if we both worked downtown and decided to move downtown as well. That’s just life in Texas. Don’t worry, I’m not too depressed. There are many benefits to living here, especially in Austin. There are many more parks than in Boston and we can ride our bikes year-round with little discomfort. There’s a lot to be said for that. And even though we have two cars now doesn’t mean that we will stop trying to find ways to use alternative transportation. We will still endeavor to do so and also to encourage others to do so through advocacy and hopefully our decisions down the road to live where we work, work where we live, etc.