One of my resolutions for 2014 is to make at least half of my commutes “green”, i.e. bicycling or mass transit. I live in Sacramento and work in Davis, about 40 km (25 miles) away. Amtrak offers an excellent heavy rail connection between Davis and Sacramento via the Capitol Corridor train, with trips scheduled about every 40 minutes during peak commute times. The minor problem with Amtrak (for me) is that I live about 15 km/10 miles from the Sacramento train station. I have several options to get there:
Ride my motorcycle. The City of Sacramento offers free motorcycle parking at the train station, so that’s attractive. But in the time it takes me to motorcycle to the station, park, and walk out to the platform, I can ride my motorcycle all the way to Davis, (where I can also park my motorcycle for free). Riding straight to Davis is also cheaper than taking the train. But on the downside, there is some serious road rage on “The Causeway” (the stretch of freeway between Davis and Sacramento). It’s usually not too bad in the morning, but the evening commute can get pretty scary. And finally, while I get pretty decent mileage on my motorcycle, it’s not really what I’d consider a “green” commute, even if I take it to the train station. (What color do you get when you mix green and brown? Would this be an “olive drab” commute? “semi-green”?)
Drive. This has nearly all the same problems as riding my motorcycle, except that it’s a bit safer. I would also have to pay for parking at the train station (or in Davis). And I get about half the fuel efficiency using my truck compared to the motorcycle. It’s also a lot more expensive, and not green at all! I’ll call this the “brown” commute.
SacRT (Sacramento Regional Transit’s) bus route 29 runs practically from my doorstep to the train station, except that SacRT doesn’t coordinate either of these two scheduled buses with Amtrak’s train schedule. I need to leave home at 06:30 in order to catch the 07:40 Capitol Corridor train. Seventy minutes to cover 15 km?!? But at least it’s a green commute.
Bicycle. When I’m out of shape (as is currently the case), I can make this ride in about 50 minutes, and I’ve worked out a route that lets me avoid most of the worst vehicular traffic. And I can bring my bike onto the train, so I have transportation in Davis as well. It’s about as cheap and green as you can possibly get, and still be physically present for work.
So I’ve got two green options (bicycle/bus+train), two brown options (driving or motorcycling to Davis), and one in between (motorcycle+train). I’d like to set up some kind of scoreboard for my commute, so I can track how I’m doing on my resolution. But I don’t want to do a blog post every workday and update the tally. Tedious as can be, for readers as well as me. I was thinking it might be possible to set up some sort of Twitter “listener” that could scan my tweets for these tags:
#green_commute #brown_commute #semi-green_commute
Then, as long as I tweet my commute mode every time I got to work, the tally would be updated. And really, how many Twitter users mind all these inane messages?