Sunday, September 23, 2012

Living the Dream

A girl tackles Seattle's latest traffic obstacles.

The stereotypical American lives away from work and spends their week commuting alone in a car, stuck in traffic twice a day, as they make the slow grind to work. For most of my life, I have lived 3-5 miles from work and ridden my bike. Occasionally, particularly when it's pouring rain, I wish I could just give in, hop in the car and make life easy. Sometimes I consider apply for jobs at a particularly large corporate in the eastern suburbs, but I usually talk myself out of it, primarily because driving there on a daily basis sounds like hell.

Well, this week I got to see how the other half lives.  I had a training in Bellevue and I wanted to go to the gym before hand. So, it was hop in the car drive to the gym and drive out to the suburbs. In addition, (no, the excitement doesn't stop there!) Seattle has revamped some of their primary traffic routes, giving 520 a toll and making Mercer street two ways. I got to test BOTH those new adventures.

Mercer has been one way for about forever (more than my life time) and two ways for about two weeks now. I ride my bike through the intersection of Dexter and Mercer every morning on my way to and from the gym. And it looks like a mess - particularly with the new two way pattern. At 8 am when I leave the gym, traffic is stacked up Dexter with cars waiting to turn onto Mercer and get onto I5. On Wednesday, with much trepidation, I jumped into the mess in my car. And guess what...... not so bad. It looked bad. But once you were actually in it, things moved pretty quickly!  Win Seattle. The next test was 520.  520 has a toll now. So for me, without a 'good to go' pass, it cost OVER $5 for my little one way trip to Bellevue (that's about $1 per mile). That seems excessive. But, I have to say, it was pretty much smooth sailing the whole way. So far win win (especially since my work will pay the 5 snaps).

While in Bellevue, I realized that unlike the good Seattlelite that I am I forgot my coffee mug. Swallowing my Seattle liberal guilt, I headed to Starbucks for tea in a paper cup - two cups, of course, because tea is so hot.  When in Rome......

Fast forward 8 hours of a REALLY boring training later and it's time to go home. First of all it seems to drive to work and park in Bellevue for the day one must pay $18!  Yeesh. For the trip home I chose I90, home to the masses now the 520 has a $5 toll. The 5 miles that took about 15 minutes on the way to Bellevue grew to 45-60 minutes on the way home. I got excited when my speed soared above 10 mph! Oops. It seems perhaps the 520 toll didn't reduce traffic, but merely moved it. 

Conclusion. The American dream sucks!  I'll take my 30 minute bike commute any day - well, most days.

In other new traffic news, when I was driving over the pass on I90 last weekend i saw signs for a new speeding camera.  How does this work?  Everyone who speeds gets a ticket????        

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