The Healthiest Commute

by DavalosMcCormack on August 27, 2008

In spite of rising fuel costs most Americans still commute to work alone. Government studies show that almost 90 percent of Americans drive to work, and that 77 percent of those drive alone. That makes sense really. It’s just a lot more convenient and practical to drive to work and not have to wait around for others.

But the other day I got to try a different way of getting home, one that really changed the way I felt about the daily commute. I took the ferry.

OK, I know. It’s not practical for the vast majority of Americans to take the ferry home. For a start, they live inland. But here in the San Francisco Bay Area there are many people who could quite easily get out of their cars and get on the boat. All it takes is a willingness to try something different.

Sitting on the ferry was the most wonderfully relaxing way to end the day. Even before we boarded the bartender was at the gate taking drink orders. Try doing that in your Ford or Chevy, stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge! For one thing there’s no bartender on the bridge. For another, the CHP tend to frown on it!

Once the boat left the dock I had a choice of views. San Francisco, shrouded in fog and looking beautiful, or Sausalito, drenched in sunshine and looking wonderfully welcoming. Either one was dazzling.

As we crossed the bay I could look up and see traffic crawling slowly across the Bay Bridge, inching along a car’s length at a time. Down on the Bay we were cruising along at a fast clip, entertained by an ever-changing interplay of light and cloud and fog and sun on the water; by pelicans drifting almost lazily overhead; by cormorants skimming low over the surface of the water, heading out to sea in search of food.

Some people were reading. Others were sitting in groups playing cards or enjoying a glass of wine or beer. Still others, like me and the assorted tourists on board, were up on the top deck just soaking in the views.

I thought of how most people commuting home were probably moving at a snail’s pace right then, listening to the traffic news on the radio hoping there were no accidents up ahead to slow them down even more.

Now I realize that most people don’t live or work near enough to a ferry to make that kind of daily travel feasible. But it is within reach of many more than currently use it. The reasons they don’t are ones of convenience, namely how do they get to and from the ferry at either end of the day.

Well, one solution could be to use a bicycle. A study in Bicycling Magazine found that 54 percent of Americans live within five miles of their job. They could easily cycle there. Or if they live within a few miles of a ferry, they could cycle there and take that to work.

With more and more Americans overweight and overworked and unable to find time to work out regularly, this could be a simple way of getting exercise, improving health, easing stress, and reducing the impact on the environment.

And you get to have a glass of wine while doing it. Now how cool is that!!!

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