Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day Three--Getting From Point A to Point B

Oh my gosh, this is the hardest day yet.  I knew it would be hard because this has been a nagging issue for me all summer.
     First, a little ancient history. I used to ride my bike to work about 11 miles each way. It was fabulous and I loved it. I got more than 100 miles a week while enjoying the ride with a friend that worked with me. My legs got strong and my endurance was better than ever. Until some unpatriotic hobo stole my bike on the fourth of July. I bought a granny bike and strapped a crate to the front of it, but it was never the same. Despite my love for biking, that was the end of my cycling career.
     Fast forward to more recent history.  Baby + stroller= walk anywhere.  Sunshine, vitamin D, exercise, window shopping, talking to strangers. Two kiddos + tandem jogging stroller = more of the same, more or less. It is large and doesn't fit into the door of every store I needed to run errands to. I had to carry a bike pump because if the tires deflated at all it became very hard to push, especially as the kids got bigger. Now that the oldest is 6, he is really too big for a stroller. So, this Summer was a bummer. Where we used to walk places everyday-- the grocer, post office, other errands, we were relying more and more on driving. The trouble is, the kids just can't walk that far and they are as slow as molasses. I think what I really need is the no impact rickshaw that Colin tooled around N.Y. in.
BUT, this was custom made and I can't even fathom what it would cost or where I would find someone to give me a quote. I love to DIY, but this is way out of my league. So, I am still stumped because most "kiddie trailers" only go up to 100 lbs., which we already surpass.
     This brings me to public transportation. I used it extensively when I was a kid and up to when I moved from Cleveland to a city without public transportation. It was economical, I was without a car and it ran to where I needed to go.  But now, I find that it doesn't suit our family's needs at all. I am not ready to sell my car first of all. The price of riding the RTA has gone up so high that I can't maintain a car and take it. I recognize that it works for some people, especially if you recoup some savings by not having to pay to park downtown, but we don't work downtown. It would be an addition of multiple hours of transporting to/from work for my husband because of where he works related to where we live. Taking it to work on Saturdays and Sundays would take time away from the precious family time we have. I am not willing to make that sacrifice. Also, I was mugged once on Van Aken while waiting in early morning hours by myself to go to work. Working weekends where I work means walking alone in the dark under bridges and past supposedly abandoned buildings. Mugged once, twice shy.
     I believe in public transportation and wish that the RTA was more streamlined, easier to use and cheaper. I understand why it costs what it costs (I think so anyway) and think it is a great and/or necessary choice for many people. I wish it worked better for me. I think it is important to introduce your kids to it so they won't be afraid to use it if they need to (how do you pay?, what is the procedure?,etc...). We took our kids downtown to the Soldiers and Sailors monument on the Rapid. It cost us waaaaaaaaay more than driving there and parking would have, so we won't do that very often. But it was exciting for them and a fun addition to the day.
     Carpooling doesn't work for us as I work alone and fluctuating hours. My Husband works at multiple facilities and needs access to his car and doesn't always leave from the same place. So that doesn't help him either.
     What are we doing regarding transportation? Well, I try to group my errands so we run to neighboring places together in the same trip. We keep our tires inflated properly and maintain our vehicles. We try not to keep big, heavy items in our car that aren't needed. We try to walk to local stores for things we need as much as possible. I am still trying to figure out how to get some type of trailer for my bike that will work so I can take two kids and haul some things all by myself. Sometimes, I just don't go places. Those days when you just want to do something, but don't have to. I opt for not going anywhere if it means by car.
     This will continue to be a hard one for me, and an evolving problem as our needs change. I have a feeling this might be one of the hardest days for many people in this challenge.  Let's face it, it is really scary to think about not having the security of your car. Oh, yeah, and snow sucks.

Fun tidbit for Transportation Day:

If you need to take the kids with you on walking errands and they are bored or don't like the stroller/wagon/wheelbarrow, try a scavenger hunt. Make a list (or use pictures) of things you might see on your trip and let them check them off as they find them. You can have them hunt for shapes (impress them with your ability to find an octagon (stop sign) or pentagon (school crossing sign)---fancy.) Colors, letters and numbers make good scavenger hunt themes too. Here's one we made:

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