Energy Diet

There Are Free Rides in Life

This week’s post was not one where the kids have much involvement, and my wife works from home so she does not drive far at all. This is an area where I have to make some changes.

The bulk of my transportation revolves around getting to work. The modes of transportation I take are car, plane or bicycle.

Riding my bike is actually my preferred mode of transportation. It is about a 55-minute ride one way, but with all the bike paths that exist in Colorado I can do most of it traffic-free. I found a gym by my office that allows me to store my bike and take a shower. Basically I pay for the bike storage and shower facility. But it is well worth it. The bike to work day in Denver is also amazing. The city blocks streets and turns them into bike parking. It is not surprising to see it mostly full.

The weather this week has been unusually cold, so I decided to try the bus out since riding a bike was not an option. So how was the bus experience? The second day was a charm. Why the second day and not the first?

Here’s why. I got up Monday morning all ready to take the bus. It was snowing, so I thought even better, I don’t have to drive. After standing on the platform for 30 minutes in below freezing temps looking out on a highway that was not moving, I bailed and worked from home.

As I write this post, I am enjoying a new-found one hour of productivity per day, thanks to the bus. The first day took a little getting used to. Learning the schedules, where to park, and how to pay. I got a bonus on my way home, a free ride because I did not have exact change. This will certainly be a new mode of transportation for me. If it were not for this challenge, it is safe to say I would have continued to drive in on cold days and ride when it is nice.

Air travel is another very frequent mode of travel. In my first post we mentioned how this really raised our carbon footprint. To offset this, I purchased one year’s worth of carbon credits using Terrapass. I will be proud to have my carbon-neutral travel badge on my suitcase. Another thing this challenge has made me think about.

The hardest part of taking the bus was doing something different. Like they say, variety is the spice of life and adding something new into the mix has been quite refreshing.


  1. Christina
    February 7, 2011, 6:19 pm

    Nice photo. I’m impressed at your riding a bike to work for that distance — not sure I’d have the discipline for that!

  2. clipton
    February 8, 2011, 7:26 pm

    Impressive changes, indeed. Certain parts of the U.S. have installed GPS units on buses so websites track when buses arrive at specific stops. This is a great convenience in Washington DC because we know almost to the minute when the next bus arrives and can minimize the wait time outside. Check this website to see if your city is listed:

  3. Tom Sahagian
    February 8, 2011, 9:02 pm

    That is exceptionally impressive! Most folks would not even consider biking to work, even though they live well within a reasonable riding distance.

    This post brings up a few really interesting issues.

    First, if your city or town lacks the buses and bikepaths, it’s a lot harder to cut back on driving. So government has to play a role here too if we are all to succeed in reducing our footprints.

    Second, many folks do not have jobs where they can work from home. So they unfortunately don’t have the option of staying home in bad weather. Can you imagine a waitress telecommuting? The tips would be terrible.

    Third, if your job requires a lot of air travel, your use of airplanes could pretty much wipe out any gains from the changes you made at home. Short of switching jobs, I don’t know how to get around that.

  4. Shaw Family
    February 9, 2011, 4:56 pm

    Hi all.

    The bus gps idea is a great one. Actually taking the bus is harder for me than getting on my bike in the cold weather. Mainly because I love riding bikes. It is also because i am in control. Being on someone elses schedule was a mental barrier to overcome.

    Denver has an amazing path system. They are less direct into the city so when i am in a rush i will get on the roads. Which can be a little dicey in ruch hour.

    My wife and i talked about the topic of people with jobs that are not flexible like mine. We do lots of video conferncing and sharing thru various online tools. We are high touch when we need to be but we certainly do have lots of flexibility to work whenever/wherever. We are the the knowledge workers you hear about.

    The plane thing i can not get around. That is an area where obviously i am constrained and it kills my carbon footprint. Even with all the technology in the world you still need to shake a hand and be present. I am going to write up a proposal and send to my boss to about allowing employees to expense buying carbon credits as i did thru terra pass. While not the same as lower travel at least it helps a little.

    Thanks dirk

  5. Christina
    February 9, 2011, 6:00 pm

    That’s a great idea to approach your company about doing offsets. I’ll be curious to hear what response you get. I would imagine this might be a tough sell for some companies, but from a PR standpoint, it makes a good employer story…

  6. Dave Chameides
    February 10, 2011, 2:02 pm

    Congrats. It sounds like you are on the right path. The next, and perhaps biggest adjustment you can make, is to examine the need for the air travel. Can trips be bundled? Can you teleconference? Perhaps you have already thought these through, but if you can even cut out on plane trip a year, it’s a big savings.