Three scary facts about commuting — and how to help

This Halloween, we thought we’d share a few transit-related facts that certainly spooked us a little. (Don’t worry, we’ve got some ideas about how to turn things around.)

17 percent of people commute more than 45 minutes to get to work.

cars-in-traffic-commuting
Photo via CNN.

If you aren’t used to this kind of commute, this will definitely scare you. It’ll scare you even more when you add it up and realize that this adds up to 15.6 days every year. If you’re using public transportation to get to work, it’s not so bad — you can use the time to do the crossword or read a book or ponder human existence. But if you’re in the car alone? Well, that’s it.

What can we do about it? Well, it’s not realistic to suggest people move every time they get a new job. It is realistic to suggest that more companies offer flex hours or work-from-home policies, making traffic easier (whether it’s on the roads or on the train) and commutes less stressful.

In most counties in the US, at least 80 percent of people drive alone to work. 

This is pretty spooky considering climate change is having rampant effects on our lives and the transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the US. You might be thinking this is just in more suburban areas, but 81 percent of people in Fairfax County drive alone to work.

Fairfax County, if you’re not familiar, is home to several Metrorail stops, Metrobus lines, the Fairfax Connector, the City-University Energysaver (CUE) bus system, and 17 Capital Bikeshare stations. All of this should add up to more transit usage, but there are still tons of people who either live too far from stations to make access easy or simply prefer their own cars.

What can we do about it? In some cases, just information about options can help! We’ve partnered with the City of Fairfax to place TransitScreens in the Fairfax Regional Library and at City Hall. The city itself is also adding 19 miles of new bike lanes to encourage usage. Speaking of which…

53 percent of adults want to bike more but don’t because of barriers to access and safety. 

bicycle-commuting
Photo via Bicycling.com

We’re big fans of bike commuting, and it’s great news that 53 percent of adults in the US want to be doing more of it! However, it’s important to understand the barriers standing in the way — so big thanks to GGWash for surveying almost 10,000 of those adults.

The biggest takeaways? One third of people who want to bike more don’t because of inadequate infrastructure. Fifty two percent of Hispanic adults are worried about their personal safety — as opposed to just 38 percent of white adults. And 64 percent say protected bike lanes would make a difference.

What can we do about it? Work on the infrastructure! Studies have shown that the higher quality the infrastructure is, the more people will ride bikes — that’s all there is to it. Adding protected bike lanes instead of just sharrows can make a huge difference to safety while increasing ridership numbers.