How's the first week of March treated you?
Brb, going to get some chocolate ice cream. It’s been proven that chocolate ice cream helps lubricate the creative writing process. Especially someone else’s chocolate ice cream.
In Monday's February Recap post, I mentioned that I had failed epically on my health goals (cooking my lunches and exercising). While I've already made progress on turning around the first part of that goal via a delicious pot of homemade minestrone soup, it's still been a struggle to make time for exercise.
Look, I know that I should exercise, perhaps most importantly to help manage the chronic mental health problems I've been living with for the past couple of years. But weirdly enough, I can still semi-comfortably zip my skinny jeans. And I've been feeling pretty damn good for the past few months, so the motivation just isn't there.
Clearly I'm not prioritizing my health by making time for exercise, but what if I found a way by incorporating it into something I already do, like my daily commute? What if I wasn't able to get to work without walking to the bus stop or hopping on my bike? I live four short miles from my office, so this should be relatively simple, right?
Not so fast. There are a few obstacles in my path:
Surprisingly, it's not actually cheaper for me to take public transportation to and from work every day. With a 20-ride MTA pass, a one-way fare is $1.60. Two rides a day x five days x four weeks is $64 per month. And that doesn't include transportation for the weekends. Last month's gas total was only $48.15. I drive less than ten miles on an average day.
Last May, The Atlantic shared a list of America's most bike-friendly neighborhoods via Bike Score. The criterion included abundant bike lanes, amount of treacherous hills, connectivity between destinations and roads, and bike commuting mode share. There's more about the bike score methodology here.
Disappointingly, Nashville ranked 99th out of 100 major cities on the Bike Score city ranking list with an abysmal 31.5 (out of 100!)
A description of the map below from the Atlantic article:
“The size of the dot shows the number of neighborhoods in that city that have a score of at least 70. The pink pie slice indicates the share of those neighborhoods that score at 90 or above, or Biker's Paradise.”
The average high temperature in Nashville from June-August is between 86 and 89.3 degrees. The high summer temperatures combined with extreme humidity make biking even a short distance in the summer a challenge. To add insult to injury, there's not a shower at my office.
Is it worth it?
Despite these challenges, I still want to give ditching my car over the next few months an honest effort. I'm embarrassed to admit how little I take the bus even though it stops right in front of my house! It's not a perfect system, but the bus would drop me within a ten minute walk from my office, adding twenty minutes of daily walking into my weekdays. If I need to get somewhere more quickly, there are several convenient Nashville b-cycle stops within the downtown area. An annual pass is only $50 per year. I also have an old Schwinn cruiser that is not the ideal road bike, but gets me to where I need to go.
Despite Nashville's shortfalls, Walk Bike Nashville has handy maps here and here, May is Nashville Bike Month, and the city is hosting a Bike Summit. There's even daylong multiple-venue bike centric music and arts festival happening next month in my neighborhood.
And, hey, it could always be worse:
Readers: Have you ever attempted to ditch your car? What were the challenges that you faced?