The making of New Year’s resolutions - or even worse, writing about such - can be seen as cliche. But I wanted to try a different exercise for 2022 and cast a net on my social media channels to see what commuting goals people made for the new year.
There is one caveat: people could not make goals for other people. These had to be goals one could control about their own way of getting around. These were not wish list items they hoped other drivers or the government would accomplish.
My wife, Momo, understood the question the best and answered with a simple mea culpa: “More distance to the car in front of me.”
Great goal. Easily attainable, too. Most drivers should take a look in the mirror (rear or side-view) and consider whether they leave enough room or, more broadly, practice enough patience behind the wheel. Room to breathe leaves room to stop and room to react.
The majority of the several responses to my traveling query involved less traveling.
@rbrianc wrote on Twitter, “To keep commuting up the stairs to my home office.”
Kerry Lowery Loy echoed this sentiment bluntly on Facebook, “To not commute.”
Reg Griffin, a former 95.5 WSB news and traffic reporter chimed in with more specificity on Facebook.”Whenever we return to the office, shifting my in-office schedule to Tuesdays,
Wednesdays, and Thursdays, while working from home on Mondays and Fridays.
Less gas, less stress, freeing up some pavement.”
Telecommuting and flex-scheduling are great ways to ease the road load and improve air quality. And, as many have learned since the deadly pandemic roared to life in early 2020, the convenience of working at home really improves the quality of life.
Flex-scheduling has some of the same benefits, while also breaking up the monotony of sitting in the home-office for days on end. Appearing in the office once or twice a week also allows the intrinsic empathy of in-person interactions again. People should not undervalue watercooler talk.
But many employees cannot fully control whether or not they telecommute. Employers might mandate workers returning to the office. Bad home wifi could also send people back into the workplace. However, aiming for a largely virtual job experience carries too many benefits to ignore and is very attainable, given the spread of COVID these days.
One person offered to stay on a healthy course in 2022. “I’ll keep walking and riding @MARTAservice like I have been for the past five years!” @GTLaxbro34 offered on Twitter.
Thinking outside of the “driving box” is what makes population growth sustainable in this city. There just aren’t places to keep adding lanes, and then buildings, and then more lanes. Using the non-vehicle approach to commuting - whether virtual, on foot, on two-wheels, or on public transit - is a great way to kill the gridlock beast with paper cuts. All approaches are needed.
And MARTA really needs higher ridership to become more viable.
Also, no matter the commuting mode, people are going to keep ordering and buying things and the trucks need the roads to get those goods to stores and warehouses. The supply shortage may curb commerce in the short term, but demand is not decreasing and the transportation industry needs the space on the roads to move the products.
As for my resolution, I want to continue to try and drive less distracted, to walk and take MARTA when those options make sense, and, like Momo, be more patient. But here is a specific one that I really dug into over Thanksgiving: I want to get better gas mileage.
Driving slower and less abruptly are the main techniques I need to use with my current vehicle. And practicing my other ongoing goals will play into the mileage milestone.
Around this time in 2021, a reckless driver plowed over and killed Sergeant Daniel Mobley on the Downtown Connector on a Saturday morning. That was a horrible way to start a dismal year of driving safety in Georgia. Deploying all of the above goals of leaving more space between cars, working virtually, flex-scheduling, walking and riding MARTA, and being more patient and less aggressive all help decrease the chances of our being a part of the same kind of tragedy that befell Sgt. Mobley.
Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also hosts a traffic podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.
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