Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why Does This Happen?

Seems like every time I want to save time by taking the bus home from school, it ends up taking longer than it would had I just sucked it up in the first place and gotten on my bike and ridden.

That’s essentially what happened today, although traffic was so bad so quickly that I got off the bus and pedaled within ten minutes of getting on, once it became apparent that the accident-induced traffic jam that led to a solid line of cars for like three miles along Bothell Way was going to make it far slower to stay aboard Sound Transit than to climb on my well-worn Brooks saddle and go all human-powered.

And as a matter of fact, it was bumper-to-bumper pretty much all the way to Lake Forest Park; not only did I entirely smoke the bus I had been on, but I believe I passed the one that left half an hour earlier.

In any case, the experience made me wonder why this phenomenon of having it be quicker to bike than bus home seems to happen so often. I figure there are at least three possibilities:

First, it may be the traffic sucks every evening heading from Bothell to downtown and so it’s almost inevitable that when I take public transportation it’s going to be slow. But that belies the fact that there have been times when I have gotten home sooner by bus.

Or, this may just be one of those cases of self-fulfilling prophecies or cognitive bias: since I already believe that taking the bus is going to be slower, I tend only to notice those times when it is; when it isn’t, it doesn’t even register in my awareness.

Or, it could be that the cycling gods don’t want me on the bus, so they see to it that when I’m off my bike, traffic stacks up. That way, like today, I’ll get off and ride.


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