Vent about your commute

This past week, a new nonprofit called Transportation for America launched a web site devoted to first-person accounts of lousy commutes. (The New York Times wrote about it, right here.)

We thought that sharing stories of grim commutes was an interesting idea – and we’d like to hear from you. What’s your commute like? Is it a commute from hell, perhaps just purgatory… or something in between? Or, are you a Zen Master, able to ignore the red-faced, irate throngs, and calmly practice yoga from behind the steering wheel?

And, what’s the alternative? Would you like a different routine, or are you happy in your car, away from the kids and co-workers, and finally able to get away for a few minutes-- even if you are stuck in a sea of internal combustion machinery.

Tell us the tale of your commute!

These days my commute is down the stare to the kitchen for breakfast. It is an enjoyable trip as long as I don’t trip over one of the cats. Being retired has benefits.

I don’t really mind my 31 mile commute except when we have a blizzard…

No venting required. I’m lucky to have mostly easy commutes to and from work. I work in any one of five different locations, so my commute varies. I leave home early in the morning and rarely encounter any problems with traffic on my way to work.

Coming home in the afternoon there is usually more traffic, depending on the route I must travel, and my travel time can double from thirty minutes to an hour, especially on a Friday. For some reason there always seems to be more traffic on Friday.

My favorite commute is eighteen miles of country roads, through farmland and woods, with no traffic lights. Traffic is minimal except for the occasional horse and buggy.

My most difficult commute involves driving through on of my area’s most congested roads, with lots of traffic lights and long lines of cars at every light. There are alternate routes for this commute but they are no better. Sometimes I take one just for a change of scenery.

I don’t get excited or agitated when stuck in traffic because it doesn’t do any good. I just sit and listen to All Things Considered. As long as the vehicle is heated in winter and air conditioned in summer I’m happy.

I frequently travel to a city much larger than my own, and when I’m stuck in rush hour traffic there it makes me appreciate my own commute. Life is good!

I quit a job once when the company moved and it would have required me to go through a certain tunnel everyday. There were several accidents daily involving this tunnel and I did not want to be part of it. I don’t have a commute problem today, it seems that there are less people going to work.

My Father made a massive commute in the 60’s. From the San Fernando Valley over the Santa Monica Mountains using what was known as The San Diego Freeway, this commute today is right up there with the worst of them.

I did make a long fast commute from Rosamond CA on the 14 into the San Fernando Valley, very fast and very crowded. Everyday you knew that freeway could take your life (round trip 120 miles, for a job at a BMW Dealer).

The car you are using makes all the difference.

My commute is about 37 miles and it’s mostly highway with fairly free-flowing traffic allowing me to go the speed limit most of the way.

I recently did an experiment to see just how much time that people who drive like jerks save over people who drive like they have all day to get there. The results may surprise you.

Driving like a jerk:

Taking my sweet time:

As you can see, if I drive like a complete jerk, I get home about 4 minutes sooner, worth risking speeding tickets and devastating my car’s gas mileage for? What do you think?

Mine is completely average. 13 miles of suburbs and 4 lane highway. But my previous job the commute was wonderful since I do enjoy driving. 2 days in the office, 10 miles a day, 3 days on the road of anywhere from 150 to 350 miles a day of interstate and country roads.

My commute is quite easy. About 4 miles on two lane roads, without a single stop light.

There is no venting required. I commute 14 miles each way, but even when my commute was 50 miles in each direction in South Florida traffic, I realized that my commute was a matter of the choices I made in my life, not something inflicted upon me. I made a decision to take that job, and when able, I took advantage of mass transit. I also made a choice not to move closer to work. In addition, we live in a democracy, where we freely elect our government officials. So even if we have someone to blame, it really comes back to ourselves. The whole idea about venting about our commutes strikes me as a bit juvenile.

I’ll drink to that!!! No more commutes, yeah.

Before retiring I was a sales manager. I had to travel to different parts of the NJ/NYC metro area based on where my rep was working on that day. The worst commute was from Western NJ, across Staten Island, and into Brooklyn or Long Island. Several bridges, lots of tolls (prior to EZ Pass), and traffic from other commuters and those trying to get to Newark Airport, and JFK. Flying along I-78 with traffic packed in like sardines and still doing 75 to 80 mph was the most stressful part of the commute. The traffic moved so fast and was so dense the cops could only sit by and watch the commuters fly by.

Eventually I learned to get in the right lane, try to get as mellow as I could and still be attentive to the wacko’s around me. Just backing off the pace a few mph made the whole commute much less stressful. Eventually we are all going to get where ever, so why not just try to get there safe and sound rather than as fast as possible.

My commute is down one set of stairs, 15 feet down the hall and a right turn into my fully equipped office.

Prior to that I commuted 12 miles of mixed city street and expressway driving, about 35 minutes in summer and 45 in the winter. The winter driving required good tires and windshield wipers.

I actually have a beautiful commute - easy interstate, but nice country & across & along the Blue Ridge Mts. It is 75 miles each way, but I only need to do it about 3 days/wk, 9-10 mos per year. At other times, work is at home. One bonus of the commute is that, on those days that I do it, I get 2 quiet and peaceful hours to myself (I don’t get them at work or at home).

Here is the only vent, and I’ve put pieces of it around the boards from time to time:
A HUGE number of people truly have no understanding whatsoever of how it is that interstate highways are designed to work. It also seems to be that many are either completely inconsiderate of others or maybe just completely oblivious because they don’t understand how the roadways work. On a daily basis, my easy commute is turned annoying and stressful by other drivers who are basically ill-informed.

I think that many of the problems have just two simple root causes: 1) wildly varying speed, often for no apparent reason or for really bad reasons; 2) failure to leave the left lane(s) clear.

Here’s what I do - I get onto the highway and set my cruise control at about 70 or thereabouts. Unless I need to pass or make way at a ramp, I ride the right lane. As long as no one does anything stupid (rare) ideally I go the whole trip without ever touching brake or accelerator.

Many of you are probably familiar with common issues:

  • You come across the somebody riding along in the left lane alongside of anyone and everyone else on the right. Neither passing, nor anything else - just riding along, and completely jamming up traffic. What was one minute ago an easy, safe, and uncongested roadway suddenly becomes a traffic snarl - 2 jam packed lanes of traffic. This is what starts to bring out the “aggressive driving” in people as they become frustrated. And it is all because, well…are people really that dumb? Or do they just don’t care? I’d guess a little of both.

  • Maybe worse is the person who pulls out of the right lane to pass, and then SLOWS DOWN (!?) in order to pass someone? That’s just bizarre. I’m not saying you need to speed up to pass (though sometimes it is smart) - but slowing down !? Its at one of these moments that I often realize that I forgot to take my blood pressure meds - so I guess some good comes of it. But the result is the same as the above - a safe, smooth flowing highway becomes a big snarl of packed traffic.

  • People who just randomly blow by you at 80, but two miles later are suddenly at 65 and now tying up traffic. Try to pass them (maybe now on the right since these are often left lane riders, which is bad but I really hate to kill my cruise control). But now - oh, right - they aren’t sure what speed they want so for a few minutes they’ll just do whatever speed you happen to be doing. Speed up a little to try to lose them - they go with you. Slow down in hopes that they’ll go away? Nope, they’ll just slow with you. Its sort of like having a cloud of gnats around your head, and I honestly don’t know why things like this should somehow not bring out some “aggressive driving” instincts. I sometimes do drive “aggressively” - it is always in response to someone else’s stupidity and sometimes the intent is to actually get away from people who I judge to make my trip more dangerous.

  • People who can’t or won’t enter and exit the highway properly. What do folks think that the entrance/exit ramps are for anyway? Why does it make sense to anyone to ride along an entrance ramp to a 65MPH hwy at 40MPH, waiting until they’re on the road to try to kick it up to the proper highway speed? Vice versa for the exit ramps. News flash to those who are somehow not comfortable getting onto & off of interstates - you don’t need to use them! It is a rare stretch of interstate without an alternate parallel route.

Anyway, I could go on. One more note. This is VA - the state of VA spends HUGE amounts of money on ridiculous “click-it or ticket” and anti-speeding campaigns. But if you spend any time out there are the roadways these are clearly not the “problems” that most contribute to making the roadways unsafe I’ve been in touch with VDOT, and you can imagine how far that has gone. I actually went through VA’s driver’s ed booklet. It says not one single word about interstate highway driving ???

At least I rarely forget to take my blood pressure meds.

I am with you on some of these items, man they bug me and there is nothing wrong with saying it. It is not so much a vent on the commute but stating the frustration of driving around others that do not know how to drive on the interstate.

People who can’t or won’t enter and exit the highway properly. What do folks think that the entrance/exit ramps are for anyway?..Some people have no idea how to drive on the interstate as I already stated and they have no idea how to enter and exit. When we moved here to central IL. I learned people around here have no clue that you enter a highway on an “acceleration lane”. Countless times a driver plods along at 40 mph and only enters the driving lane because the acceleration lane ended even if it was clogged with traffic. The safer maneuver would be to accelerate and blend. I have even seen people stopped in the traffic lane waving people from the acceleration lane to get in, this was not stop and go, it was full on 65mph.

People who just randomly blow by you at 80, but two miles later are suddenly at 65 and now tying up traffic…and then when they back down their speed and you come up behind and need to pass them, they speed up. I knew somebody who did this and they griped about their fuel mileage.

Maybe worse is the person who pulls out of the right lane to pass, and then SLOWS DOWN (!?) in order to pass someone? That’s just bizarre…this is a dangerous thing to do but I come to believe there are 3 reasons people do this.

  1. when the cruise is on I believe it is an aerodynamic thing. Car comes up behind other car and when they get close the wind slows down the passing car, creeps along until the passed car is almost cleared, and then the passing car takes off. The problem is the driver of the passing car needs to wake up and accel enough to get pass the other car in a timely manner. It is dangerous to run alongside a car for any distance other than passing.
  2. when the cruise is off and the passer gets alongside the other car it may seem they are going to fast and backs off therefore they run alongside the other car for a distance. Not a smart thing to do.
  3. some are just clueless and if they get past the other car and cannot see it anymore out of their peripheral vision or the mirror (even though it’s been seconds) then they figure no one is there.

These are not “juvenile rants” but the frustrations of sharing the road with others who have no clue of the dangers of not paying attention on the road.

My only gripe is the train traffic near the plant. Our plant is near a major switching station for trains in the area, and it’s not unusual for trains to stop and block the crossing gate for several minutes before they start moving again.
There’s been 2 instances I can remember since starting there. Both were in the morning(I’ve only worked 1st shift for 2 years now), and we couldn’t start any of the lines up for almost an hour due to backed up traffic. A few people said they waited for over an hour before they started moving again. There is a route to detour around, but if there’s been any kinda heavy rains, the road gets flooded over and you can’t get anywhere.
My shift doesn’t start until 7am, but I’m almost always clocking in around 6:20~6:30am. Partly because I know how bad that crossing is, and part is because I like to eat breakfast before the line starts, and I’m not always hungry when I first get up.

64 miles a day, $8 in tolls a day, about 2.25 hours driving… a day.

320 miles, $40, and 11.25 hours a week… ugh.

Now I go about 15 miles round trip. No big deal at all. I used to go 90 miles round trip, mostly down a country road. Wasn’t a bad commute except in winter. Some nights I’d expect to see tumbleweeds blowing through town—it was that dead. Job before this one I used to drive 3,000 miles a month doing R&M on computers and POS systems, some were 120+ miles away. There were days I loved and dreaded on that job.

I used to live a mile from my work and it was great. My wife wanted a better house, so now I live two miles from work. My commuting distance has doubled and my bicycle tires wear out twice as fast. The longer commute used to be tolerable, because I had a colleague that lived halfway between work and I could stop at the halfway point in the morning for a cup of coffee, and then stop on the way home for a beer. Unfortunately, he retired and moved away, so now I have no rest stops on my commute. There used to be a dog along the way that would chase me so that would speed up my commuting time. However, he became old and retired from chasing bicycles, so he now just sits by the street and waits for me to stop and pet him.

You want frustrating? I drive into Salem, MA every workday.

“Normal” days you get treated to NE drivers who believe that it is perfectly acceptable for 12 cars to proceed through a single stop sign because they technically came to a stop, albeit 1/4 mile back from the actual sign.

Turn signals are considered giving information to the enemy and a sign of weakness.

Left turners have the right of way. If you plan to go left, simply position your car angled across the intersection so that everyone has no choice but to let you go first.

One of the few places where you can wear out a horn (and a finger).

We have pedestrians who; don’t use crosswalks, randomly step out into traffic at dusk wearing dark clothes, press the crosswalk button and then cross anyway leaving cars to sit for 5 minutes without anyone crossing and purposely cross at the greatest angle to insure it takes the longest to actually get across.

Tour buses, oh man, the tour buses that empty out the entire geriatric population of Florida who stop in the street to gaze at the statues or wait for Aunt Martha to disembowel her Rascal from the bus storage before continuing across the street.

And the absolute worst possible time: halloween. Forgetaboutit. Minimum 1 hour just to exit the city.

MY PROBLEM! I am 5.5 miles away from work and live on the west side of Lake Michigan. It is uphill about 200 ft in uphill grade change going west to ride my bike to work. So because of lake effect winds I ride uphill into the wind to get to work, then ride downhill into the wind to get home. I do drive a few days but just wanted to bitch about nothing but wind blowing in my face, thanks for listening.