One week of commuting on foot because of CMU Carnival
This week, the Morewood Parking Lot, where I have an annual parking permit for commuting to work at Carnegie Mellon University, is being used for the annual CMU Spring Carnival, so this year I opted for the new possibility opened up by CMU Parking Services to volunteer to not park in my lot, in order to reduce demand for parking. In return, I get a $50 credit toward my parking fee.
(A photo from the CMU Carnival live webcam.)
So today I walked two miles to work and another two back home, taking about thirty minutes each way at a fairly brisk pace.
Why was I so eager to volunteer?
The pain of parking during Carnival week
I have been paying for parking in the Morewood Lot for over a decade (with only one year in which I parked in the East Campus Garage). Every year, parking during Carnival week is a nightmare. Since the lower lot is closed, the result is that the rest of the lot fills quickly and you end up having to park in the East Campus Garage, spending over five minutes (according to my actual measurements) to drive up to the top and be guided to park somewhere, if you’re lucky. I already hate parking in the East Campus Garage, for a variety of reasons, and the added congestion and time only makes the experience worse.
Why do I drive to and park at work at all?
I have, of course, walked (or run) to work occasionally in the past, but it was not a regular habit, given that I pay for an expensive parking spot. I like to drive to work because of the conveniences:
- not as exposed to the elements (cold, hot, snow, rain, etc.)
- saves “a lot of” time: ten minutes to get to work rather than thirty (actually, this is false: the driving time may be ten minutes from home to getting out of parked car, and then it takes another ten minutes to walk from the lot to my office, for a total of twenty minutes)
- much easier to haul stuff around, such as books and printouts and glass Pyrex containers for my lunches
- in a typical week I need to drive somewhere immediately after work, e.g., a Meetup event on the North Shore or some other such place
Goal: force myself to do more walking
I do some running approximately every other day, but I haven’t been doing much plain old walking (sadly, I have not even done long hikes in the woods recently). I decided it would be a good opportunity to see what happens (mentally and physically) if I walk two miles to work, and two miles back home, every day.
Why not run instead of walk?
I have run to work in the past, but only when I had a way to deal with the following issues:
- change of clothing
- hauling my stuff (easier to do when walking)
Why not take the bus?
Since I work at CMU, I get “free” city bus service. I take the bus quite infrequently; there is a stop a block away from my home, so it is definitely always an option.
But I have hated buses all my life, since riding them as a kid in New York City, and riding them elsewhere. In high school, I often chose to walk rather than ride a bus. In college, I also chose to walk rather than ride a bus; sometimes I would even walk an entire hour to get from one end of campus to the next.
Why I don’t like buses:
- air pollution: I have a strong belief that there is a lot of carbon monoxide and other noxious gases in and around buses that are why I feel nauseous whenever I am on a bus
- waiting: I have lived in some places such as Pittsburgh where bus service leaves much to be desired, with long waits; I have observed in the past that by running, I can already go a mile before I see any bus going where I want to go, catching up to me!
- overcrowding: it’s not entirely predictable whether you can even get onto a bus that arrives
- passivity: if it’s not going to save me much time, and has down sides, I might as well be active and walk!
Why not ride my bike?
To be frank, I think of bike riding in Pittsburgh as scary. Things are much, much better now than they used to be, but I just don’t feel comfortable riding my bike around.
Maybe some day I’ll change my mind, but not right now.
Should I try my old Razor kick scooter?
I have a Razor kick scooter that I bought over a decade ago when it suddenly became a big fad. I had plans to use it for various purposes (including working my leg muscles around a track), but actually never got around to using it.
I am considering trying it out to supplement walking to work, but have some reservations. We’ll see whether I try it out this week.
Some photos of today’s walk home
I feared that a thunderstorm might hit this evening (it did not), so I walked pretty quickly home.
Schenley Drive is the most direct way to get into Squirrel Hill, where I live. Amusingly, my boss passed me on his bike while I was walking along:
Residential Squirrel Hill arrives right after the golf course:
Going down Murray Avenue:
I felt great (if sweaty) after my quick walk home tonight. I have tended to feel tired when coming home from work. It may be that all I really need is a nice walk to give me some air and circulation before dinner time. I look forward to doing more walking the rest of this week.comments powered by Disqus