This site is, generally speaking, about doing fun things, not anything related to work. I prefer to focus on the weekends and vacation time. However, I am making an exception and today we are going to talk about commuting to work. Now hang in here with me for a moment. I know, the commute is worse than working sometimes. I don’t think it has to be that way. Why can’t we add some fun to our daily commute to ease the pain of having to work in between enjoying the weekends?
Let me explain what I mean about adding some fun to your commute. We live in a moderate sized city with adequate public transportation. Traffic can be, and usually is, horrible everywhere around Seattle. Geographically speaking building roads in Seattle is a challenge. The greater metropolitan area is bounded by mountains to the east, and Puget Sound to the west. Between that the land is punctuated by lakes. Needless to say, many commuters that use cars spend up to an hour or more in traffic each way, every day. For several years I was one of those sitting for hours in my car. Then I made a change.
Today, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. For the past 11 years I’ve been working in downtown Seattle. I have had various commuting strategies over the years. I have driven of course. I have also ridden a bicycle, walked a few times, taken the bus, light rail and had a sort of hybrid commute. This brings me to my point of introducing some fun to your daily commute.
My commute is around 6 miles each way. I am able to fairly easily use transit to get to and from work each day. I have two transit options. First there is a bus stop at the end of the block where I live. The bus goes downtown, very close to my office. It takes about 35 minutes door to door. However, my bus is infrequent. It is scheduled every 20 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, I can take the light rail which takes about 10 minutes and there are trains every few minutes. Unfortunately the train is almost 2 miles from my house and there isn’t parking at the train station. I can walk, but that adds a significant amount of time. I can get a ride but then that I need to rely on someone else. This is the “Last Mile Commute Problem”. Last year I did some experimenting to solve this problem.
Last year I rode my longboard to and from the bus station occasionally. Yep, I am a middle aged man riding a skateboard. Now that added a measure of fun. Unfortunately, I can only ride it about a mile because we live up a significant hill and I wind up walking up and down the hill. Then I got even more creative and I learned to ride an Electric Unicycle. Now the EUC works, more or less. I can ride it both downhill and uphill. The Segway Ninebot One S1 that I bought has a top speed of around 12 miles per hour. It is fun to ride and solves the “last mile” commute problem. However, it comes with some challenges.
The major problem with the unicycle is that starting is tricky and if you need to start going uphill then I need to find something to hold onto. You start by kicking like you would on a skateboard then stepping on. With a hill that is a no go. Between navigating traffic and the hills I wind up starting and stopping a bunch, if I have to go uphill I wind up needing to walk. Verdict on the Electric Unicycle is that it takes about the same amount of time to get home as it would if I just rode my skateboard.
The past year, learning to ride the EUC and doing some commuting on it has intrigued me about solving the last mile commute problem. The EUC might be the solution but there are other vehicles out there that are electric and compact and light enough to carry onto transit. This year I am going to try to solve the problem with an Electric Skateboard. Since I skateboard already this feels like maybe a good solution. We are going to find out together if this old guy can learn a new trick or two.
The next article we will examine how I have selected the Electric Skateboard that I am going to use to learn and commute aboard. We will look at the different features and how I made my decision.