|Walking accessories: good shoes and a large cup of coffee|
Then my parking pass expired, and I faced a choice: pony up for a new pass, or dedicate myself to hoofing it, rain or shine? I made the leap and selected the latter. Now I walk five miles (about 1.5 hours in total) each day. It's a commitment. It takes planning, not to mention an earlier wakeup time and some trusty rain gear. But I'm finding it beneficial in a multitude of ways:
(1) I'm not spending money on parking or gas. A year-long parking pass at my work is nearly $450, which seems exorbitant given that it essentially means I'd be paying my employer for the opportunity to sit in my cubicle all day. No. (In the past, employees would avoid buying a pass by simply parking in surrounding neighborhoods, but now that the city has established a pay-to-park program - which I generally think is a good idea, despite its inconvenience for locals - that's out of the question.) Plus, I'm spending less cash at the gas pump. In the grand scheme of debt repayment, $450 isn't a lot - but every little bit helps when it comes to making our plan materialize.
(2) I get daily exercise. I enjoy working out, especially running, but when life gets busy, it's one of the first things to go. By walking to work, exercise is incorporated into my routine and becomes non-negotiable by virtue of necessity. Do I want to get paid? Then I have to lace up my shoes and start hiking.
(3) I don't get stuck in traffic. You'd think this wouldn't be an issue in a small town, but it is. Few things are as frustrating as spending 30 minutes in the car when your destination is less than five miles away. That's exactly what happens here: between busses pulling over at every stop, parents driving their kids to school, and the trains bringing traffic to a halt every ten minutes or so, commuting here is nothing short of exasperating. Take it from me: being able to sashay past a line of cars snailing their way towards a stoplight half a mile down the road is a delightful experience.
(4) I'm being kinder to the environment. As an Earth scientist, I feel a particular obligation to avoid blasting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere if and when I can. Again, it was one thing when I lived tens of miles from work and needed to drive. In this small town, though, it just feels wasteful, especially when we have access to miles and miles of sidewalks, urban trails, and bike lanes.
(5) I get to take advantage of small town life. We moved to this community in part because it's not that big. You really can walk, bike, or bus anywhere you need to go. Small town = small commute. Why not take advantage of that, in true Mustachian fashion?
(6) I have time to transition into, and out of, a work mindset. On the way to work, I contemplate what I need to do for the day and prioritize those items. On the way home from work, I reflect on what I accomplished and try to process any feelings of frustration, stress, or worry. Walking helps me focus. It allows me to be more present in the moment.
(7) It gives me precious time in my preferred environment. A Twitter friend recently asked followers what they would do if they had the time and money they needed to do it, and my response was that I would spend all of my waking hours outdoors. In reality, that's not an option for me. My job requires that I'm inside, in a cubicle, basking under fluorescent lighting, for at least eight hours a day. My walk to work is my compromise, and it's one I relish.
Tell me about your commute. Do you walk? Bike? Bus? Drive? Ride a train? How do you use your commute? What would you change about it, if you could?