Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One Less Trip, Five More Glasses of Water

Remember that time when I promised that in honor of Carfree Week I would attempt to abide by One Less Trip rule over the weekend and replace one trip that I would normally take by car with an alternative mode? That was before I found out that we were in for a late-September heat wave, complete with 100+ temperatures. So I hope you all really appreciate the fact that I refused to let myself off the hook and managed to actually abide by my rule. A few lessons from my alternative mode travels:

Day 1: Street Trees
I don't know why we have no street trees in my neighborhood. Heck, we're called Woodland Hills. Maybe the City of LA is like Ventura County, and cuts down all its street trees because it can't afford to maintain them. Maybe there never were any trees along Ventura Boulevard to begin with. At any rate, I would have appreciated a few for Friday's two-mile walk to the hair salon/Target. Granted the heat hadn't really hit yet, and it was merely a balmy 95 degrees on the sidewalk. Still, my neighborhood is consistently one of the hottest in the valley, and you've got to assume that the lack of greenery is one cause.

Day 2: Missed Opportunities
For Saturday's alternative mode trip I broke out the bicycle and headed to the farmer's market (leaving especially early to beat the heat--and so that I wouldn't miss my favorite cinnamon rolls from the french pastry stand). Riding alongside the freeway gave me ample opporunity to contemplate the absurdity that is Caltrans' fenced-off right-of-way (see below). Not only is there no sidewalk on this side of the road (though I saw plenty of people walking in the dirt next to the curb), the chain link fence deprives this neighborhood of what otherwise has the makings of a really cool linear park. Not that I expect that kind of creative thinking from the people who brought us the 110, but in a city known for its lack of park space this is a real waste.

Day 3: Flexibility
I intended to break out the bike again on Sunday, but after two days of battle, the weather won. I just couldn't contemplate a four-mile ride to and from yoga class in 108-degree heat (or yoga in 108-degree heat. gross.) Instead I opted to head out early for a five-mile run, which involved no car travel and seemed like better idea until about four miles and 93 degrees into it. As I slogged through the last mile, again cursing the lack of street trees in my neighborhood, I considered the fact while transportation planners like to focus replacing vehicle travel for commute trips, people often have more flexibility around less essential trips like going to the farmer's market or to yoga class. Maybe it's time to shift our focus? 

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