Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pedestrian Commute

The pedestrian commuter awakens to a fresh blanket of snow. He prepares himself for the commute, accounting for the still falling snow and chilly temps. He knows if he wears too much he will overheat during his human powered endeavor. However, if he wears too little the blowing snow and cold will work its way in.

He sets off and everything is new. The blanket of white refreshes the path he has covered countless times before. It is a joy to propel oneself through this renewed winter landscape.
The commuter often sets out earlier than most and finds his path trackless, unhindered by ice, punchy holes, or vehicular commuters.

If the commuter is lucky, a portion of his route may be on trails that wind through the city, or at least multi-use paths leading to businesses or bus stops. Arriving to work energized, the commuter smiles internally at the amount he has accomplished while many of his co-workers slept, or mindlessly drove to work in their isolation capsules. The pedestrian commuter has already embraced the day and the world he lives in, and feels better for it.

After work he prepares again for the homeward journey, looking forward to his built in decompression period. As he makes his way he is soon reminded that the pedestrian commute is an afterthought of city planners and road maintenance crews. The fluffy, pleasant path he travelled on the way in is now covered with several extra inches of dense, plowed road snow. On foot, the commuter soon encounters numb feet, tired legs, and degenerating morale. If he has travelled by bike he is now forced with a decision, trudge through on the now unrideable paths, or risk his life by riding on the freshly plowed street with traffic.

The human powered pedestrian commuter knows that he will face this same dilemma for the next several days. His route will be slow going and difficult until snow removal crews finally clear his paths. The isolationist commuter, wrapped by several thousand pounds of climate controlled steel, glass, and plastic will blissfully travel to work, blinded by his own convenience. The paths have been made clear for him, without regard to the expense of his pedestrian brother.

Are there accommodations that could be made to encourage the pedestrian commuter? Are there compromises to snow removal that would not hinder his progress though the urban landscape? He hopes that someday there will be, but today he just continues down the path he's chosen.