Learning to Walk and Ride
I love driving. Let me preface that with, I love driving on the open road. I’m from a small-ish town in Western Nebraska. It is a town you’ve probably stopped in to fuel your car or have a quick bite to eat while traveling cross country via Interstate 80. I grew up in the country, so I’ve had a driver’s license since I was 14. People drove everywhere in my town. The sidewalks are huge, but nothing is really nearby. The summer heat and humidity make for painful heat indexes and winter is spent suffering in below zero wind chills and adding to snow piles that will eventually melt in mid-March. These conditions rarely made my family, friends or neighbors want to hop on their bike or walk to the grocery store. Couple that with non-existent public transportation options and you have a lifestyle that revolves around getting to and from places via car.
After high school graduation, I left Nebraska and moved on to Minneapolis, Dublin, Fort Collins and currently, Denver. In each city, I moved away from my car dependence in a different way. Minneapolis was bussing between campuses and downtown to work. I relied heavily on walking through Dublin’s cobblestone streets. Fort Collins and its incredible bike culture had me strapping on a helmet and getting around on two wheels. Finally, Denver; a city whose transportation system and culture has transformed in the last 11 years as I have called it home. Since living in Denver, my commute modes have included bus, bike, carpooling, commuter train, rideshare, and walking. My current commute to and from DaVita includes all of the above depending on the day’s demands, weather and how I feel. I am lucky enough to live in an area of the city with all of these options easily available to me. With downtown Denver traffic and steep parking costs, commuting by car is truly the least desirable option.
I’m not alone in wanting to avoid driving in the city. Did you know that almost 60% of the Downtown Denver workforce and 87% of DaVita Denver Teammates transit, bike, walk, telework or share the ride for its commute to work?,
Why should you change up your commute? It can save you money and hassle, but it’s also good for your well-being. According to an article from the Washington Post, if your commute is the typical 26 minutes each direction, that works out to a total of nine full days a year spent traveling to work and back. If you have a 90-minute commute, you’re spending 3 hours a day on the road. That works out to more than a full month out of the year commuting. Longer commutes are linked with increased rates of obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, back and neck pain, and depression. A change in your commute just a few days a week can have significant benefits. Individuals who commute via transit get over three times more physical activity and have a lower risk of disease than those that drive.
Even if commuting options are not as easy to come by in your neck of the woods, I challenge you to try an alternative commuting mode at least once a month, or better yet, once a week. Find a teammate, friend or family member who is also trying a new commute and share successes together or link up for a carpool. The easiest way to start is to download the Google Map App to your smartphone or open Google Maps on your computer and play with different commute options. I’m a big fan of the multi-modal commute. This combines different commute methods to get the best route. By walking or biking to a transit option, you can add some additional physical activity to your commute.
Due to recent physical limitations, my main mode of transit has been via commuter train and bus. With someone else controlling the ride to work, I spend my morning and afternoon commute listening to true crime podcasts, daydreaming about vacation destinations, what to make for dinner and how exactly I can transform my front yard into a garden oasis. For you this could be time spent catching up with a friend, discovering new leadership skills with an audible book, or meditating to de-stress from a long day. It’s all about finding a new rhythm that works for you.
I’m no expert, but through my experience I have found that being intentional about making a small change, like switching to a sustainable commute, might help you make other small changes – making yourself and your community happier, healthier and greener. I can’t say I’ll be trying out Run Commuting anytime soon, but I haven’t ruled it out entirely!
 Downtown Denver Partnership, State of Downtown Denver 2018, 2018
 Downtown Denver Partnership, Downtown Denver 2017 Commuter Survey Report, 2017