In Bicycling, Climate Change, Transit, Transportation, Walking


Today’s blogger is Julia Ibara, GMTMA’s newest staff member. This is the first, but certainly not the last time you will hear from Julia!

More and more people are trying to find their ways to greener paths. I am one of them and I would like to share my experience with ‘finding greener paths” as a still fairly recent immigrant (having been here now for 5 years) to the U.S. Growing up in Europe, the idea of commuting to work or school by walking, biking or taking public transit is not so much a choice as a way of life; most people don’t think twice about it because like most European countries, everyone does it. Walking to the supermarket to get groceries and the walk back is not that unusual, although sometimes I was wishing I had left buying the water for another time. And I remember taking a trolley to the farthest stop and then walking another 20 minutes each day to get to and from my job (I know that could be a challenge when you’re dressed for an office job and it’s raining or snowing).

When I arrived here I found public transport a bit more confusing than what I was used to, and there was a time when my used to the European ways put me far away from my intended destination! But overall I was struck by how many places were practically inaccessible unless you owned a car. I was also struck by the ease with which you could get anywhere if you did own a car, and how that really changed how much time you could save getting to work, how much more you could buy when shopping, and how convenient things were when you could park right next to them.

Over time I was surprised at how my perception of convenience and necessity changed, so that a 20 minute walk to the Dinky and another 15 minutes to walk to my job in Princeton became a half hour that I could “save” by driving so that I could get other things done. Everyone does it! We rush all over the place trying to cram as many things in our day as possible and try to shave minutes off every activity. But soon I came to realize that what we gain in efficiency we eventually begin to lose in terms of our health and well-being, our contributions to greener living, and our attitude towards our lives.

The challenge for us here is that we must choose a greener lifestyle as part of our daily lives and commuting, and this means a commitment that you have to think about. But as more of us do this it can become the way of life, where it’s less a conscious choice and simply the way to get around. Many communities are becoming walking and biking friendly and we should be taking advantage of that. We can all benefit from finding our greener paths.

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