Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Time and Motion

Monday, I rode all over hell and creation: from home to school, then from school to West Seattle, then from West Seattle back home—altogether about 60 miles. In the end, it took me about 5 hours total, including a stop for food (in the morning on the way to school), one for beer (after school, before heading to my friend’s house in West Seattle), and a couple to pee by the side of the rode (on the way home after sharing that six pack.)

Had I driven, my total travel time would probably have been more like two and a half hours, so basically, I spent twice as much time on the bike as I would have in a car—but as far as I’m concerned, it was time well spent.

What would I have done with the two-plus hours anyhow? Probably dithered around on the computer, maybe done a little reading, certainly eaten more. Instead, I got to enjoy a mostly lovely ride, there and back along Lake Washington, later over the Duwamish, and finally, through the quiet streets in the early evening of Pioneer Square and environs. I saw three of my bike gang buddies, two on two-wheelers, and one, to whom I gave the finger, of course, in his beat-up piece of shit car. Had I been in an automobile, I would have missed all that, and more to the point, would have considered all the travel time nothing but a waste. So, if you sum it all up, subtracting the wasted time from the time saved, it turns out to be a complete wash—no more timely to drive than cycle at all.

I was talking to students on Monday who justified their driving habits in the name of efficiency, but we need to interrogate further what we mean by “efficient.” If we take it from the Latin, efficiere, meaning “to accomplish,” then it’s certain we accomplish a lot more by cycling.


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