My Codependency

So I was feeling pretty good about my green footprint when it came to transportation.  I traded in my ’99 Toyota Tacoma for a ’07 Honda Civic.  I went from getting around 20 mpg in the city to nearly 38 mpg.  I’m only filling up a 10-gallon tank twice a month instead of an 18-gallon tank every week.  The prompting for this came when gas prices were hovering around $4/gallon.  $80 versus almost $300 per month is a no brainer.  Now that gas prices are even less, I feel even better.  That is until I hear the chatter coming from my fellow students and professors in the department of city and metropolitan planning.  For fear of a Monty Pythonesque witch-hunt, I keep the fact that I drive to campus everyday a closely guarded secret.

  I will freely admit that I am completely codependent on my little car.  I drive everywhere.  What will compound the level of consternation even more on behalf of my colleagues is that I literally have a bus stop in front of my house.  I know, I know, the urban planning gods have sealed my fate.  However, I have absolutely no plans of changing my habits anytime soon.  I simply do not live in a walkable area.  I’ve done a brief survey (thanks to Google Maps and UTA’s very cool trip planner) and I have compared walking times, transit times and driving times from my home to various locales that I frequent.  (The gods already know this, but prefer to keep this information stuck in committee somewhere).




Transit (transfers)


Smith’s 2100 S.

1.3 miles

25 min.

18 min. 1 trans.

5 min.

St. Paul’s Church

(On Sunday)

3.9 miles

1 hr. 18 min.

49 min. 1 trans.

12 min.

U of U Campus

5.1 miles

1 hr. 45 min.

32 min. 1 trans.

14 min.

24 Hour Fitness

3.2 miles

1 hr. 3 min.

17 min. 0 trans.

9 min.

Tryangles (bar)

3.5 miles

1 hr. 8 min.

31 min. 2 trans.

10 min.

  Walking is totally out of the question.  A bicycle may be a bit more realistic, but I know myself well enough that the convenience of the car still outweighs any other perceived benefit I may attain from utilizing a different mode of transportation.  I think Salt Lake will get there.  I rode the light rail everyday back home in Denver when I went to school, but parking was at a premium downtown, so it was worth it.  Here the costs are low to drive and park, everywhere.  So the question is, for this city studying capitalist pig, how do we provide the proper incentives for people like me to ditch their cars and try something else?


Taylor said...

Hey, Nate. Just out of curiosity, have you ever talked about Portland in your Urban Planning classes? It's unfortunate Salt Lake is so auto-dependent. Here in Portland, by the end of 2009, we'll have four light rail lines, and when that happens, I could sell my car and never need one again as long as I lived here. I can get to the airport from my apartment just north of downtown in under an hour, and I could conceivably get to work in less than 45 minutes (I work in the suburbs). The Willamette River and it's biking/running path is reachable within a fifteen minute walk, there is a streetcar stop outside my door, a grocery store a less than five minute walk, a 24-hour Fitness a block from that, and several bars and clubs within a fifteen minute walk. Not to mention that bikes are plentiful here; I see bike lanes all over.

Nate C. said...

Portland is pretty much the poster child in the U.S. for forward thinking urban planning. They've been far, far ahead of the rest of the West for at least 20 years. The rest of us are playing catch up. We'll get there though!

Melissa said...

Hey! Did you know that I work for a civil engineering and environmental planning firm? We work extensively with UDOT and UTA so I know what you're talking about. We talk about planning and increased transportation all of the time. It's actually really exciting to know what the state's plans are in terms of transportation and planning. In fact, yesterday we went to Daybreak to view their sustainable living community. Once again...sustainable living, eco-friendly, blah blah blah. j/k I like the awareness, but one of the great things we talk about is trying to balance the use of driving and mass transit. I find it so interesting.

Melissa said...

But one thing about what your friend Taylor said...SLC has about 4 rail lines planned in the next while. Sure, we're behind, but they're definitely trying to catch up. UDOT and UTA has been visiting Portland and Eugene, Ore. a lot lately. :)

Taylor said...

Melissa, I'm glad to hear that! Salt Lake could use better public transit, though we can't do anything now about how spread out things are. Portland's a little more compact, so mass transit is a little easier to sell (and use) here, but I'm glad to see Salt Lake is plowing forward!

Eugene? Admittedly, I've never seen their transit system, but...Eugene?

Nate C. said...

Melissa, I didn't know you worked for that firm. Maybe we'll be coworkers again in the future! ;)

The Salt Lake Valley does have some great things on tap for the four new lines. In fact the new Mid-Jordan line is almost 50% complete now and that's the one running out to Daybreak.

There are some exciting things happening with trolley car systems in downtown/sugarhouse area and also one planned to run up to N. Salt Lake from the new transfer station that will be built along the new North Temple viaduct that will be constructed in the next few years.

Denver has the most ambitious transit expansion program in the nation right now. Google "Fast Tracks" and check out everything that is involved with that. It's pretty incredible.