Getting to work: There are other new possibilities

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Most of us don't know how good we have it.

We can walk to work, or get in our car and be there in a few minutes. Traffic jams? When school's out, there aren't any.

Some of us do spend a lot of time commuting, but many workers in big cities, who spend a good chunk of their day traveling, would be envious of even an hours' drive to Benkelman.

Still, we've heard stories of people forced to spend half of their paychecks on fuel.

So how do we stack up with the rest of the nation?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nine out of 10 Americans still drive to work, and only one in 10 of us car pool. Even among the car poolers, however, 77.3 percent ride with just one other person.

Naturally enough, larger cities have some of the highest rates of car pooling, with Fresno, Calif., at 15.1 percent, Honolulu 15.6 percent, Mesa, Ariz. 16.7 percent, Phoenix 16.2 percent and Sacramento, Calif., 15.7 percent.

About 3.5 percent of workers in Portland, Ore., bicycle to work, eight times the national average of 0.4 percent, and a lucky 5 percent of workers in Austin, Texas, have no commute at all, working from home, 6.3 percent in San Francisco, 5.3 percent in, again, Portland, Ore., 5.1 percent in Seattle and 4.9 percent in Colorado Springs, Colo. Nationwide, 3.6 percent of us worked from home in 2005.

Thirteen percent of workers in Boston walk to work, compared to 2.5 percent nationally, the fourth most popular mode of transportation behind driving and using public transportation.

Of course, not all options are open to all workers in Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas, but with an open mind, many of them are.

No, weather and time constraints don't always allow bicycling or walking to work, but how many people live and work close enough to each other to permit car pooling?

Perhaps a slower trip to work could actually save time -- combining exercise and a commute can open up time for something else later.

And with McCook in the process of constructing a hike-bike trail throughout the community, people-powered travel should become more and more practical for errands as well.

Why not try a bicycle or walking shoes for your next trip across town? You may be surprised how quickly you'll get there -- anywhere in McCook is accessible in a half hour on foot or 10 minutes on a bike -- and it's fun to check out the neighbors' flower gardens along the way.

Let's explore new transportation possibilities -- with all of us suffering from high gas prices, and few of us getting enough exercise, there's no better time than the present.

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