Commuting

by Honolulu Mother

This U.S. News article discussed an interesting study on how commuting patterns are slowly changing:

How Commuting Is Changing

Here’s the article’s summary of national trends:

On the national level these figures illustrate a few large, long-term trends that are continuing to play themselves out over time. Slow, steady declines in single drivers are offset by equally slow increases in public transit riders. A lot is made of the gains in so-called nonmotorized commuters walking and biking – and for good reason – but by far the biggest change is in those staying at home to work.

And of differences in commuting patterns from place to place:

… the places where commuters predominantly drive to work alone are concentrated in the South and the Midwest. On the flipside, transit-intensive counties also tend to have the highest rates of walkers, taxi riders and bicyclists. Those who are able to work from home the most seem concentrated in suburban, or collar, counties where they be otherwise facing long trips into the central business district.

I’ve noticed that the recently introduced bikeshare program here seems to be drawing a lot of commuters, with racks in the business / financial district filling up in the morning and emptying in the evening (although the bikeshare van does its best to rebalance the supply by moving bikes around). But my own commute is a single-person-in-car commute by the time I get to work, even though it usually starts as a full car leaving home.

Has your commute changed in recent years? Do you see the kind of gradual changes the article talks about?

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91 thoughts on “Commuting

  1. I’m waiting for a bus so this is very timely. I commuted during rush hour today on a later train. For me, that means a train that arrives at 8:37 instead of earlier at 7, or much later at 10. It was so crowded that it took me almost ten minutes just to exit. If you’re a “regular”, you know which train n car to sit in for certain tracks to speed up the exit process.

    I really, really should thank my DH for doing this grind everyday so I don’t have to do this on a daily basis. He takes a 6am train everyday so it’s not as crowded.

    I became immune to bodies smushed against me everyday for 15 years on the subway. Even though there are citi bikes all over NYC…there are just so many people that the commuting patterns have not changed since I was a kid even though more people are able to work remotely.

  2. About 20 years ago, my then employer started allowing some “telecommuting”, but while some jobs don’t lend themselves to working from home, it was mainly dependent on the manager. I had one who allowed it and one who admitted that since he would not be productive at home questioned whether other people were.

    Fast forward, at my current employer, aside from the jobs that don’t lend themselves to working from another location, those who are not allowed to are (1) less than 6 months on the job and (2) have something in their work history that doesn’t make them a good candidate – usually less productive/always late/uses too much unplanned leave. However, we also have a “flexible” work schedule option. This means that while you work a set schedule, it is not 8-5. One department has a large 6:30 to 3:30 contingent. This allows you to “miss” some of the traffic while still working in the office and is very popular with those whose job cannot be done from another location.

    Like HM, I my commute rarely was 100% alone when I went into an office. I either had the morning drop off or evening pick up of kids on the way. However, until recently, none of the public transportation options that took me LESS time than driving to get to work. Now I work from home about 95% of the time.

  3. Timely post as my workplace is moving to a suburban location. Cheaper office space made the move attractive. There will be free parking onsite but it has resulted in an increased commute for almost everyone. Some people’s commute has doubled so they will ask to WFH.
    There are others who were already working mainly from home almost full time so post move they will get only visitor space should they come into the office. The new office has much more visitor and flex space.
    The surburban location means less options to do things at lunchtime or pre/post work. I predict more people deciding they are better off WFH.

  4. Even though I live in one of the most public transit intensive areas in the world, I end up commuting alone in a car. Sad. The public transit patterns were never set up for people like me, commuting from an inner suburb to an outer borough. There are a lot of us too. I know people who work in Westchester who commute from Brooklyn or Queens, as well as the reverse. Back when I worked at the software company, many of the developers were Russians who commuted in from Staten Island. It is really a problem. I think there should be better bus service between Westchester and Queens, in particular, since they are pretty close. I also think they should have put light rail or a fast bus lane on the replacement bridge across the Hudson, since so many commute over from Rockland.

  5. My husband’s company is considering a move further out into Connecticut. He says if they do that, he will be job hunting.

  6. I switched from commuting mostly via public transit to commuting mostly via “non-motorized” means a few years ago, and I love it. My commute is about 2 miles. I do take the train if the weather is bad, or I am short on time. There is a pretty good system of bike lanes between office/home, but I prefer walking if I have time. No matter what MMM says, biking is a lot more clothing and weather-dependent than walking, and I hate to do it without a helmet too often. When I work late, I usually take a company-paid taxi home so that I can make it home for dinner/bedtime.

    I had long car commutes for a decade, and it was absolutely soul-sucking. Never again!

    Our company is definitely, but gradually, going to more of a “work anywhere” culture. I believe the main driver of that is cutting down on real estate costs vs. employee satisfaction. I do not particularly like working from home more than once in awhile, but if my office situation gets miserable enough (hotelling, benching), I might change my mind.

  7. The fundamental issue is most mass transit is designed to get people from outlying areas to downtown. But with more employers located in the outer areas/suburbs, it’s difficult to develop a workable transit system in reverse, or to get people from suburb to to suburb.

    Denver has an area on the south side where there is a high concentration of companies, and there is now light rail running through there. But the problem is getting people from the train stations to their jobs, because it’s very pedestrian-unfriendly, and still can be a mile walk from the stations. There are connecting buses but they don’t have a great frequency. So it’s still preferable for most people to drive and deal with the traffic.

    Outside of the largest cities, most metro areas don’t have the density to support a robust transit system. They opened a new light rail line in Denver in February and they are already talking about cutting back service because of low ridership, which of course will only decrease ridership further.

  8. What I find amusing (and nice) is how a commute of more than thirty/forty minutes here would be seen to be approaching hardship territory and therefore be open to a WFH negotiation. Also there is a North/South of the city divide. Most people tend to live and work North, South or center but not crossing over lengthens the commute.

  9. In theory, my commute isn’t bad – ~20 minutes and zero traffic. In reality, when I add in a daycare and bus stop/aftercare drop off/pick up, I’m commuting about 2 hours per day.

    I’m very fortunate that my department is wfh and flex friendly (although I do think it negatively impacts our productivity). I wfh two days per week, mostly so I can do laundry.

  10. For years, I commuted 40 miles each way to Boston. The only reason that worked is that I commuted on a very comfortable coach bus that happened to have a stop right around the corner from our house. I never could have done that commute by car.

    Now, my office is a mile from my home. If the weather is nice, I walk; otherwise I drive. I could work from home on days when I’m not seeing clients, but I actually like coming to the office. I’m more efficient here, and it’s nice having some people around during the work day.

  11. We have one light rail line here. It has good ridership because it brings people from the south side of the city in and has ample parking at the stations. Lots of apartments and retail have gone up along the light rail line and there is a lot of walk ability/bike ability designed for those neighborhoods with easy access to downtown jobs. Totally unrecognizable from the vacant lots when we moved here.

  12. There is a huge class divide (and also some industry differentiation) in the ability to work from home. We get a fair amount of bad weather here in the winter, but modern utility upgrades mean that extended power outages are no longer common. And we are very well wired. So knowledge workers routinely work from home, or work the sort of off hours shift Austin Mom described, and when weather is bad or schools are closed everyone just stays home and logs in. Some employers expect butt in seat for most positions, but that is a business choice – either the nature of the work or security clearance issues mean that they have no options, or they are willing to limit their geographic and demographic talent pool to those who don’t mind (not a trivial hiring limitation in our high employment high COLA region). If the commute or the employment conditions are just too difficult, there is always another decent job to be found, at least for the under 50 cohort. Hoteling or visitor desks do drive some folks who prefer a fixed spot in the office to change as well.

    Yesterday’s side discussion on home location reminds me of the commuting ease for the last 6 years of my working life after taking the exit package from Big Local Employer. I could take the bus at the end of the driveway and subway right to the financial district office for a couple of years -and then I had a straight shot reverse commute in the car toward NH, and for a particular consulting job got an account in a Back Bay garage (tax deductible) since it was just too much time with two changes and crowded cars coming home on public transit.

  13. Dh’s commute is about 20 minutes door to door. Atlanta is a driving city and although I am starting to see bike lanes I don’t think it would work to bike downtown from where we live. He rarely WFH – it’s just not done in his office unless there is some sort of weather event.

  14. I do have a positive story about long reverse commutes via public transit. I was in a training program with my first bank after college. They opened an office right across the Hudson in Jersey City because they got tax incentives. This was early 90s and the Path station didn’t even have escalators yet. The area is a mini Wall Street west now,,but it was desolate back then and the commute wasn’t so safe at night. I was the only woman commuting with a bunch of guys back across the Hudson and on subways late on night. They became some of my close friends because we spent so much time together. I was only in Jersey City for 18 months, but I’m still friends with that crew. I loved those guys and it never would have happened within it that nasty reverse commute.

  15. I go in now 2 days a week. Sometimes 1. Sometimes (bliss!) 0. Occasionally (blerg) 3. I wouldn’t still be at my firm if I couldn’t WFH so much. I also flex my commuting hours and try my darndest not to go in/out during the busiest times.

  16. I have a 30 minute driving commute on back roads, 15 minutes if there’s no traffic on the parkway, but it’s almost always congested and the commute can stretch to 40-45 minutes or more. I’m really tired of driving, and this is the outer range of what I consider to be a daily driving commute. My office located in a beautiful but kind of remote area. At my old job, I used to run errands at lunch but it doesn’t really make sense now because the stores are just too far away. I do get out for lunchtime walks, though. When I switched jobs a year+ ago, I turned down a job offer in NYC because the office location was changing from mid-Manhattan (right outside Grand Central station) to lower Manhattan. The subway ride, in addition to Metro North, would have added too much time to the commute, even with the option of WFH after six months. I have several friends who take NJ Transit or the LIRR into NYC and then hop on a CitiBike to complete their commute. They really like the bike ride.

  17. Every time I see F in an acronym I first try to decode it with fuck being one of the words. Is that unusual?

  18. In theory, my commute isn’t bad – ~20 minutes and zero traffic. In reality, when I add in a daycare and bus stop/aftercare drop off/pick up, I’m commuting about 2 hours per day.

    I never considered child drop off/pick up as part of commute time.

    My commute depends on which day of the week it is because I go to different places every day. The longest is a half hour and the shortest about 15 minutes (after I drop the kids off). Coming home is a bit shorter because I got to multiple locations every day and start at the farthest and end at the closest.

  19. There is a huge class divide (and also some industry differentiation) in the ability to work from home.

    Yeah, if your job is to answer the phones you can’t effectively work from home. It’s not going to work for the custodial staff, or the people working in the lunch places, either.

  20. I am working more from home now-a-days. I go into the office about once a week. My commute is about 25 minutes each way. I don’t mind it, as I have a choice between the back roads and the freeway (depending on traffic).

  21. I switched positions internally and have to drive to a different building that puts my commute over 30 minutes with no traffic and between 45-60 minutes on the way home. I find myself getting stabby with anything over 30 minutes. I might try to WFH more or stay at the other location, but I’m trying to figure out the office culture/politics about face time. My new boss commutes more than an hour each way, so I don’t think he sees a commute as a bad thing.

  22. Yeah, if your job is to answer the phones you can’t effectively work from home.

    Why not? IIRC google voice can route the call anywhere.

  23. Rhett – I left my phone on the train earlier this summer and I was able to get calls thru my computer (I have the Google phone & service). I also recovered my phone the next day – phew.

  24. The people who answer the phones are in call centers, usually somewhere that it doesn’t snow. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have a tough commute, but at least it is predictable. Once I got a call center in Newfoundland, but that was a long time ago when they weren’t monitored so carefully and you could chat with the customer service rep. Of course, routing calls in nothing new. It was always a joke that 1-900 calls were less appealing when you could hear the baby once in a while crying the background.

  25. Despite moving to an open plan office, I have not started to work form home more often than before the move. I’m just not set up to do it easily. My commute has not changed 35-50 minutes on a typical day, including a 15 minute walk or so. (In London it was 55-65 minutes.)

    Biking – I have bad luck with biking (broken arm, stolen bike, sprained arm – on separate occasions) and its too dangerous still IMHO. I do see a lot of people riding Citibikes and more bike lanes but am also hearing of cars-hit-biker type accidents too frequently for my tastes.

  26. Answer phones, as in call center – yeah that can be done anywhere. Answer phones as in receptionist, secretary – no (much as ours likes to try).

  27. The people who answer the phones are in call centers, usually somewhere that it doesn’t snow.

    Jetblue’s “call center” is mostly made up of Mormon housewives in Utah working from home.

  28. To fully appreciate the challenges facing JetBlue as it hires more employees and expands to more locations around the country, you have to venture beyond its New York offices and travel halfway across the country to Salt Lake City. You have to go to a quiet residential neighborhood and to a split-level house with a kid-sized basketball goal in the driveway. You have to go upstairs and visit 4-year-old Gracie Driffill’s bedroom. This is how far JetBlue’s culture has to reach. In fact, this is where the JetBlue experience begins for more than 100 customers a night, under the watchful eye of Raggedy Ann, Potbelly Bear, and Gracie’s other dolls, and occasionally, Chewy, a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix.

    Mary Driffill, Gracie’s mom, works here as an at-home reservations agent for JetBlue. She’s one of about 700 in Salt Lake City.

    David Neeleman pioneered the arrangement at his first airline, Morris Air, and it worked so well that he replicated it at JetBlue. Equipping agents with a home computer eliminates the need for a large expensive call center. It also boosts efficiency and retention in a job with traditionally high turnover.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/49443/calling-jetblue

  29. Yeah, I was thinking of answering calls as in receptionist / secretary. Which also involves being there to deal with all the people who come by the physical office.

  30. So, first, the “findings” didn’t really surprise me, because you’re going to have better transit and more walkability in dense locations.

    I have to say, my town is really doing a crap job. They are saying all the right things about transit and walkability and bike commuting and such, but all they are doing is restricting traffic without actually providing workable public transit.

    From where I live, I would need to drive 15 minutes to a light rail station, where I would then have to wait for a train, and then ride for 15-20 mins. to arrive about a half-mile from my office. We’ve done it before for Ravens games, and it turns out to be 45-60 mins. The other alternative is that I can get on a local bus two blocks away, ride through one of the least-safe neighborhoods in the entire city, and arrive 4-5 blocks from my office. Honestly, that’s not even an option I’m willing to consider.

    Or, you know, I can get in my car and get there in 16, because its all of 6 miles as the crow flies (9 miles driving, and 7+ of those are interstate).

    The problem is that it is becoming harder and harder to get anywhere. The main intersection downtown by Harborplace has always been a problem, because people coming from the S and people coming from the W have to merge together, so both sides back up. But now they have taken up the right lane for a bus lane, so it’s far worse.

    But my real annoyance is the commute home. My garage opens onto another street where two streets funnel into one. That street has four lanes, plus a parking lane. They have recently taken the right lane and turned it into a bus lane. But here’s the kicker: a big construction project has closed off the left lane for something like 6 months now. So now we all funnel down into two lanes, and I frequently can’t even make my turn onto that street because everyone coming from the other streets blocks the box. Meanwhile, this is also a popular route for bike commuters. It is freaking ridiculous. My alternative surface-street route, in turn, has been under construction for a year; the pavement is now so bad that I simply refuse to drive my new car down it for fear of doing major damage.

    It’s funny, the city obviously has problems, and people are (purportedly) working really hard to try to attract jobs and businesses and tourists and all of that. But they seem to have missed the obvious concept that if you want people to come downtown, you have to make it easy for them to GET there. I might be willing to deal with traffic in NYC or DC, because they have so many attractions and amenities (and viable public transit alternatives); we can’t say the same here. Why not finish construction BEFORE you dedicate lanes to bus lanes? Or, jeez, at least time the damn lights so that my drive down the main drag doesn’t get stopped by the mistimed light on the tiny little cross street. Grrrrrr.

    /rant.

  31. Speaking of seeing your coworkers and manager I had years of being the only person on my team in my city. In one position I never saw my immediate manager for two years. I was interviewed over the phone and trained by phone and sharing screens. Our senior executive would fly around and see the staff at various locations but because of budget cuts and sheer lack of time/necessity my immediate manager never visited. If things were going badly it would be a different story. That Jet Blue article made me recall my own situation.

  32. In the 2+ years I’ve been at my job, I’ve seen my boss less than 10 times, and she’s in the same city.

  33. I had to call Jet Blue last week to make a change to a seat and it had to be done by a rep. The guy was really nice, but I heard is dog barking in the distance. I rarely have to talk to their employees, but they’re always so helpful.

  34. My casual observation fits with the measured trend of more WFH. Many people these days seem to mention casually that they’re “working home” this week or on such a day because of one reason or another, whether for personal or business reasons.

    The inability to wfh was the main reason I dropped out of the workplace years ago when my kids were young. My commute had increased to almost 3 hours round-trip after my office moved downtown. I was able to finesse a schedule where I worked in the office four days a week, but that only lasted a couple of years and then they wanted me back five days. At the time that company was not set up to easily accommodate employees not in the office. Plus I managed a team that were all located in the office, so it was not optimal for both the team nor for my career.

  35. I was just on a live chat with Roger M, a “chat professional” according to his title, about a car service issue. I have no idea where Roger is located, and whether the photo that appears on the chat conversation is really him or is a stock photo of a nice, earnest looking guy.

  36. Yesterday I had an online text live chat with three different overseas Amazon reps. I had to be shunted to three different sevice teams to resolve a simple issue. However, each chatter was identified by what i presume were real names, one was Rahul, i dont recall the others exactly since they had many letters I gave the company props for that.

  37. I always prefer the text chats with support over phone calls. It is more clear cut, and you get a nice transcript at the end.

  38. I made about 5 calls to transunion the last two days. Every person I spoke to was in India and non-native English speakers, yet amazingly they all had traditional American names like Megan and Alex. I was very unimpressed with the the whole thing.

    It started off with getting a message when I logged into my account that I had to call a specific number, yet when I called they told me that I actually needed to call another number. It went downhill from there. They said they needed to verify my identity by asking me questions from my credit report. But they were unable to access my credit report until I requested one from freecreditreport.com and then I would need to call back. At that point I told them they were freaking morons because they are the credit bureau and have my credit report already. I hung up and requested the report and called back. Then they said that I had to wait a few hours before they could access it. I told them again that they were a bunch of f–king idiots before hanging up. I finally got my original issue resolved the next day.

  39. In my case, this topic ties in nicely with yesterday’s. Like Lauren, I feel better than ~5 years ago.

    In my case, that is directly related to my commute. This past summer, DS would take one car every day to his job and also took DD to summer school, and DW would take the other car. That left me to commute by bike every day, and that got me into better shape than I’ve been in for a while, and left me feeling great, so great that I’ve continued with the mindset that the bike is the normal way to commute, and I’ll only drive if something comes up that forces me to drive.

    Also, we live on a hill, and blasting downhill at 40+mph is a great way to start a day.

    OTOH, in keeping with the getting old theme of yesterday, I labor up the hill to our house every day. It’s probably an easier hill than one I used to do intervals on when I was younger.

  40. “Biking – I have bad luck with biking (broken arm, stolen bike, sprained arm – on separate occasions) and its too dangerous still IMHO. I do see a lot of people riding Citibikes and more bike lanes but am also hearing of cars-hit-biker type accidents too frequently for my tastes.”

    I’ve also had a few crashes while bike commuting. One broken bike, one potato-chipped wheel, one broken arm, two broken ribs. But all of them happened on the bike path; two involved animals.

    The bike path I take was closed for a month this summer to do maintenance as well as to root out the homeless camps next to it. In the interim, the detour was regular surface roads, and I found a better route home. I’m hoping that not using the bike path to get home turns out to be safer.

  41. ” I’m hoping that not using the bike path to get home turns out to be safer.”

    The streets being safer than the bike path – Ha, that is ridiculous! Sorry to hear of all your injuries – hope you’ve recovered well.

  42. If you are going to take Lyft, you might as well drive. Either way, you are adding yet another single occupant car to the horrendous traffic. Buses at least carry lots of people.

  43. “If you are going to take Lyft, you might as well drive. “

    It depends.

    What if you’re using Lyft for the ‘last mile’ between your home and a train station, and between another train station and your destination? What if you’re sharing that Lyft with others?

    In some cities, especially in downtown/business areas, a lot of traffic is due to people looking for parking. People taking Lyft aren’t contributing to that.

    The Lyft Shuttle appears to be kinda like a bus: fixed routes, fixed fare, fixed stops, multiple passengers. Not like a bus in its response to demand, and skipping stops unless a requested by another passenger, and thus doesn’t run when nobody wants to ride. My guess is that if it gets established, at least some of its passengers are people who would otherwise be driving themselves.

  44. In some cities, especially in downtown/business areas, a lot of traffic is due to people looking for parking.

    Yeah, the studies on this are fascinating. They say in some areas, 40% of the traffic is people trying to park. They say if cities increased the price of meters to match the prices of the parking lots, people would just go into the most convenient lots and traffic would improve significantly.

  45. The Lyft Shuttle appears to be kinda like a bus: fixed routes, fixed fare, fixed stops, multiple passengers

    That sounds like a jitney.

  46. We have a free trolley bus service that takes people east/west so that people can park further out and instead of walking that last mile they hop on the trolley bus. It had a North/south route as well but it was felt that people going north/south should use the light rail instead. After they cut the north/south trolley they increased the number of rental bike stands.
    http://charlottenc.gov/cats/bus/routes/Pages/gold-rush.aspx

    For Fun – there’s this.
    http://charlotte.trolleypub.com

  47. OK, I guess I could see the Lyft service for getting to train stations. That isn’t the issue with commuting Westchester-Queens though. The issue for commuting between outer broughs and inner suburbs (including the Rockland-Westchester commute) is that there is no train or bus that does the route. In my particular case, I have access to parking at work, so I don’t have that issue. Same for all the Rocklanders who come across the bridge to jobs in Westchester. We just need buses or light rail

  48. Jitneys are really common in Westchester. A lot of the employers and office buildings run jitneys from the train stations to their site. My husband’s company does it, in fact.

  49. And then there are the employer -run buses in Silicon Valley. They cause a ton of resentment and really highlight how the Bay Area has failed in managing its own transportation needs.

  50. My employer is building a new building in a further out suburb. A huge number of people bought homes in the residential areas around the current location over the last decades, many with less than five minute commute. The company is considering running one of those buses from the current area to the new location, or temporarily subsidizing tolls on the toll road that connects the two areas. My tolls would be $16/day, or the street level commute would be up to 90 minutes each way. I do not work with anyone in this location, and can literally go the entire day without speaking to anyone face to face. I’m lobbying hard to get permission to telecommute. But you know, collaboration.

  51. E-bikes are becoming popular for food delivery in NYC but they’re actually illegal. I’ve seen a few locally, but I have no idea how they’re regulated. Biking in general does not appeal to me, certainly not for commuting, based on reasons similar to those expressed by Kerri.

  52. “really highlight how the Bay Area has failed in managing its own transportation needs.”

    The employer-run jitneys in Westchester are symptoms of the same problem. The original plan for the new bridge across the Hudson called for a dedicated mass transit lane. Somewhere along the way, they dumped that idea, leaving all the cross-Hudson commuters still mired in traffic. This is one of the reasons I truly detest our nominally Democratic governor. And then the best part – they named the thing after his father.

  53. July, our big bike shop is promting e-bikes. At the Bike Sundays this fall, they had a tent up by the county center with e-bikes to try out

  54. Mooshi, do you know if e-bikes are subject to any special regulation?

    A major media company relocated to a New Jersey suburb some years back, and they provide commuter bus service from various points in NYC and suburban train stations. My understanding is that they really have little choice since most other major media companies are located in NYC and much of their available workforce lives in NYC and surrounding NY suburbs.

  55. I don’t know about the e-bikes. They are really common in Europe.

    There is a really famous movie animation company in the same building where my husband works. They run lots of those jitneys because almost all of their employees are commuting from the city. It is funny to see – all these people with blue hair and nose rings getting off the corporate jitney in the monring.

  56. “And then there are the employer -run buses in Silicon Valley. They cause a ton of resentment”

    Why resentment?

  57. Rocky –

    “City officials no longer want to give the private corporate buses a free ride, and have worked out a deal to charge Google [GOOG], Facebook, Apple [AAPL] and other companies a fee based on the stops their shuttles make. The city’s transportation board is expected to vote on the plan later this month.”

    I guess if they’re claiming special bus privileges, like use of bus lanes, or special parking/loading areas, that’s a consideration. But it seems like any city government would be eager to encourage, rather than penalize, any form of shared transportation.

  58. “The company has begun testing high-speed catamarans as a way to transport employees.”

    Cool. Those are fast. They use water jets/impellers rather than propellers. We rode one in Maine for an offshore lighthouse tour. They cruise over 30 kts.

  59. More on e-bikes in NYC
    “While state law requires that these bikes be registered as motorcycles, such registration doesn’t currently exist, which has long led e-bikers to zip through a legal grey area. “Because of this regulatory patchwork, e-bikes are legal to sell as bikes anywhere in the U.S. but effectively illegal to ride in New York, since they can’t be registered as motor vehicles,” according to CityLab.”

    http://gothamist.com/2017/10/20/nyc_e-bike_crackdown.php

  60. @Louise – We did a pedal pub for a friend’s 40th BD last year, and it was tons of fun.

    When I worked in the suburbs, there were shuttles from the train station to the office. Towards the end of my reverse commuting days, I rode them pretty frequently. But the bus-to-train-to-shuttle commute was easily 80 minutes, whereas the drive on its own was usually only 60. Reverse commuting just stinks.

    I love the water taxi – it’s fun to ride. But it’s really faster than walking. 12 minute boat from the train plus you have to go down to the river to board, etc. It’s a 20 minute walk at a normal pace.

    I love to hate the middle-aged men who use their kids’ razor scooters to get from the commuter rail stations to the other side of downtown. They look like goofballs, but I don’t think that they care.

  61. I skimmed the Boston bid for Amazon HQ. Other than housing prices and availability, which are of course glossed over in the presentation, the idea of building at Suffolk Downs (a dormant horse racing track – large site single owner) is actually a good one. MBTA upgrades would be needed too, but if Amazon is coming with the increased tax base, there would be no issue floating bonds to pay for it. There is a subway line already to the site now, but it is the poor sister among the existing lines.

  62. Ugh…Poor Timothy Egan (NYT opinion piece). Amazon is bad for Seattle because house prices are too high and all the people at his dinner parties only talk about real estate. Oh! And there was a really yucky part of downtown that people dreamed might magically become the Champs Elysee and it became Amazon instead. And somehow Amazon is responsible for a crazy socialist/communist on the city council.

    tl;dr America – watch out, if Amazon comes to you, there might be prosperity and traffic.

  63. “tl;dr America – watch out, if Amazon comes to you, there might be prosperity and traffic.”

    Ha! The areas proposed in our bid were good ones too. Areas near downtown that would really benefit from the development. But oy – the traffic! ;)

  64. What would happen is that some remaining poor, working class, and Rhett’s cop/nurse neighborhoods in depressed areas (not really suburbs, but not in the city proper) near the coastline would be gentrified. The poorer neighborhoods are mostly immigrants, so they would get pushed away. The rental stock, some of it fairly shabby, would be taken by younger employees and eventually condo-ized. The bosses would live in Andover or Marblehead and commute down that way. The airport really is 10 min drive from the campus. That is a uuuge selling point. Also the fact that there is a large single owner land parcel available today, and the contiguous subway access as weak as it is already exists. There would be traffic, no question, but there could also be company sponsored shuttle busses from stops on other subway lines.

    There is no way Amazon can go to Research Triangle North Carolina or some other desirable and cheaper locations with culture war issues in active play at the state government level. I agree with Ivy that the right location is probably Chicago. It will be interesting to see whether weather turns out to be a decision factor that works against both of those locations.

  65. Meme – I lived in the area you described. It has great access to the city via the T and it is near the beach. A hidden gem. I think some of the land nearest the beach is marsh land and may be protected. Surprised that gentrification has not yet taken place. The T was supposed to expand up the North Shore and probably still can. May run into opposition due to environmental regulations.

    A couple of cities in my state have submitted proposals. We have a new governor and the state government is supporting all the proposals equally.

  66. I support Chicago and would be pleased to hear from posters/lurkers in other cities that have applied and have airport access, close in land and other enticements. The reason I prefer Chicago to Boston is that locating here is pretty much saying that diversity goals will be satisfied with lots of Asians and just a few black/brown people. The African American and Caribbean origin population here is small, as opposed to Chicago, and even though Chicago is cold, I assume (Ivy can correct me) that there are a more extensive range of Hispanic communities (by that I mean all of the preferred terms – I am not sure exactly what is current). Denver has some of the same advantages and problems as Boston, but I think its western location disqualifies it already.

  67. Louise – Malden is slowly gentrifying and the old pols in Winthrop are dying out. Charlestown became hot long ago. Chelsea Revere and Everett have a ways to go. Lynn would change as well as the displaced lower middle class pushed out the poor.

  68. “We just need buses or light rail”

    In their absence, what’s wrong with having Lyft, or some other private provider, filling that gap?

    As noted earlier, Lyft Line (it looks like Lyft Shuttle is part of that) facilitates the sharing of rides, as well as reduces the part of traffic due to looking for parking.

  69. “I don’t know about the e-bikes. They are really common in Europe.”

    Also in Asia.

    About 20 years ago, a friend and his wife went from a 2-car family to a 1-car family, facilitated in large part by the purchase of an e-bike. Most days, he rode a regular bike to work, but for days when he needed the car, she could take the e-bike.

  70. “I love to hate the middle-aged men who use their kids’ razor scooters to get from the commuter rail stations to the other side of downtown.”

    They are an extremely practical way to address the last mile issue. They’re small enough to easily carry on buses and trains, inexpensive, and increase the practical radius of coverage for a station without costing the transportation authority anything.

    Common use of such devices could also facilitate greater distance between stations, reducing the elapsed time of the transit part of the commute. For rail systems, that would reduce the cost of building those systems.

  71. Finn, again, Lyft could be part of the solution in that people could take them to the train stations. But other than train parking, looking for parking isn’t a huge issue here – the employers all have ample parking. Reducing the number of vehicles on the road IS the big issue. For example, there are very few times of the day when there isn’t a traffic backup on the NB Hutch for the 2 miles before the exit onto the Cross County. Every time I drive home from Queens, I have to sit in that backup. And there is always a backup on the SB Hutch right after 287. Always.The reason is simply volume. There are just too many cars trying to drive on the Hutch at any given point in the day, and it isn’t a road that can be expanded. We have similar issues all over Westchester. We need some kind of transit that hauls lots of people at a time.

  72. Long before e-bikes (and who came up with that terrible name?), bikes with little motor assists were common in Europe. In France, I would always see middle aged ladies on them. Most of the time, they didn’t use the assist, but there was one big hill in our town, and as they got to the hill, they would kick the little motor, to get that extra oomph for getting up the hill

  73. We really need a dedicated bus lane or light rail across the MarioBridge, continuing on 287 through the corporate park area, and connecting with Metro North at PortChester before swinging back around. That would help get not only Rocklanders to the corporate parks and to White Plains, but also get people coming from CT on Metro North to the same areas.

    Also buses that connect us to Queens, either stopping at Kew Garden or Flushing (though that is more congested) to connect to the subway.

  74. “Reducing the number of vehicles on the road IS the big issue.”

    I wonder how many solo drive commuters have become drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft, and try to make some extra money taking passengers along on their commutes.

    And I wonder how many people are influenced to use means other than solo driving by the availability of services like those provided by Uber and Lyft in case they need to work late and miss their normal rides home.

  75. “We need some kind of transit that hauls lots of people at a time.”

    You don’t think that cars carrying 2 or 3 people instead of just one will make a difference, especially in the absence of the kind of transit that hauls lots of people at a time?

  76. The e-bike crackdown seems pretty stupid at a number of levels. Making them illegal because some riders ride illegally and dangerously makes as much sense as outlawing cars because some drivers drive illegally and dangerously.

    I’m guessing that getting rid of all the ebikes would result in most of them being replaced by a combination of bikes, motorcycles, mopeds, and cars, ridden/driven by the same pool of people currently riding e-bikes. Do people really think those same people will be less dangerous driving/riding those alternatives?

  77. “I wonder how many solo drive commuters have become drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft, and try to make some extra money taking passengers along on their commutes.”

    My BIL does this. He lives near a harness race track and works near the airport, so he has a steady source of customers at both ends.

    When we lived in DC, “slugging” was a means by which solo drivers could use HOV lanes by picking up passengers on their way to work. Now, of course, it has a website. http://www.slug-lines.com/

  78. ““slugging” was a means by which solo drivers could use HOV lanes by picking up passengers on their way to work.”

    That was also common for people crossing the Bay Bridge from Oakland to SF.

  79. My commute is 10mi/20min. Maybe longer if snow covered.

    Finn “slugging” alive and well from east bay BART stns across the Bay Bridge.

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