Living carfree is living carefree

I’m not worrying about the upcoming “Carmageddon” in Los Angeles this weekend. But not for the obvious reason you might suspect.

The I-405 just north of Los Angeles. And one of many reasons why I'm happy not to have a car. [photo credit: Wikipedia]So much has been made in the news about the closure of I-405 in Los Angeles over this weekend. If you haven’t been paying attention:

They have a name for it: Carmageddon.

They have a plan: Stick close to home, if at all possible.

And they have this: no idea what really will transpire when a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 405 in Los Angeles is shut down for 53 hours starting tonight for a road-improvement project in the ultra-busy Sepulveda Pass in the heart of one of the most car-centric cultures in the world.

“Allow me to be blunt: It’s going to be a mess out there,” Los Angeles Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky posted on his City Hall website.

“For those of you who think you can outsmart this potential mother of all traffic jams,” he added, “my advice is simple: save your gas.”

[via the San Francisco Chronicle]

It’s reasons like this why I’m reminded why it’s so nice not to own a car. I don’t have to worry about massive traffic snarls like this. I can just hop on Phoenix’s light rail or bus and get to where I need to go with relative ease. And when I add a bicycle to my transportation arsenal, then that range is extended considerably.

And even if my commute could be shorter by taking a car, there’s one big benefit to not be driving: I don’t have to worry about the driving. I can do things that everyone who’s driving a car shouldn’t to: talk on the phone, text, read a book, listen to music, check email, post something to Twitter, and so on. It’s quality time.

Some thoughts on this from the Vancouver, B.C., blog Price Tags:

My travel time is far too valuable to waste actually driving. Talk about distracting. I don’t know about you, but I find when driving that I actually have to pay attention to stuff. Like other vehicles. And stop signs. And even cyclists.

Given a choice between a faster trip driving and a slower trip on transit, I’ll take the latter, so long as (a) it’s not too much slower; and (b) I can read or listen. If I can plan the length of my commute with accuracy and dependability, then time spent moving productively is more valuable than time spent moving quickly.

[read more]

So you’ll be catching me on the light rail or even the bus. And if I move to a different city, the big criterion for a good city is its mass transportation system. Because my time is valuable.