As noted before, ally Alan Durning and his family are engaged in an experiment in car-free living. In his latest post, Alan takes on the idea that walking and using transit are just too time consuming:
1. Time spent on transit is different from time spent driving. People vary, of course, but for me, transit time is a pure gain over driving. I dont enjoy driving. Id rather read than listen to music or talk radio. And I can read without queasiness on all forms of transit. For me, then, car time is a waste of life, but transit time is living, and Ill happily choose a 30 minute transit trip over a 15 minute car trip. For me, driving is time consuming.
2. Just so, walking doesnt consume time, for different reasons. In fact, walking creates time. For one thing, if you walk for transportation, you dont have to go to the gym as often. More profoundly, walking gives you time you wouldnt otherwise have at all. Walking makes you live longer, as Clark posted here. The largest ever study of the subject found that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, adds 1.3-1.5 years to your life, on average. (More vigorous exercise adds even more.) On reasonable assumptions (detailed below the fold), this relationship means that for every minute you spend walking, you get three back.
Time spent walking, then, is utterly free. Its time you would have spent dead.
I couldn't agree more!
I applaud Alan's experiment, and I enjoy the insights he brings to what some people still think of as a radical notion - the ease of car-free life.
However, it needs to be pointed out that time is only one component of the transit problem.
In Philadelphia, where I live, the trains are fairly reliable and fast.
But the stations are hot, dirty and odiferous, and unsafe at night - especially for women.
The trains also run near capacity, and during peak hours, there is no place to sit (and so, no reading).
So the speed is there, but the ride is not usually a pleasant experience. This has to change for transit to become more competitive.