The commute, as well as all the shorter and often unnecessary journeys, can make up a huge part of a households energy budget. If the store is far away, there are no bike paths or mass transit options, driving is kind of natural for most people. And driving can be quite pleasant in the suburbs, but how about in the city center? I don’t think anybody really like to drive in congested areas. Especially if you will have to drive a long distance to get to those areas in the first place.
To get around this, many cities now have commuters parking at major bus stations and rail transit points. The point is to simply drive to the transit point, leave the car and ride the rest of the way. Especially if you live a bit outside the city you can save lots of energy this way (at least if the transit point is way closer then driving to work…). Not only that, but e bike parking lots are getting more and more common in Europe.
Remember the concept of commute chains? We made some calculations at the office a while ago, and found out that if the commute is long, you will only loose a few minutes on a bike – train- bus/walking chain in many cases. And all the while one can get some exercise and then time for breakfast, some preparations for the day, time to read the news or a few minutes of sleep. And as moving one person at a full commuter train takes way less energy then driving all the way. In other words; by only driving part of the way you solve your transportation in a more energy efficient way, thus helping to make the commute sustainable.
This is mostly a viable advise on longer commutes, I would say an hour or so one way. On shorter commutes it might not be worth the hassle. An hour by train is a quite common commute, at least in northern Europe. Distances are longer then one might believe when looking on a map, and many are forced to commute long distances since work closer to home, especially in smaller towns, often are scarce. The Swedish unemployment office even say that a 3 hour commute, one way, is acceptable… I’m not sure who could do with a 6 hour commute/day, but hey (I commute for one hour/da x2/day and doesn’t think it takes to long time)… Under these circumstances, a train ride is a godsend. While it can get boring, you get to work in good condition. You save money, especially with how expensive fuel is.
So if you want to try other commute options, but doesn’t have transit close by, then try to chain the commute. Driving a short way and then using greener transportation sure is better then driving the whole way, especially if the commute is a long one. Bring a book, your phone or some other entertainment, get to know some other commuters and make it as easy and comfortable as possible. Who knows, you may find the extra free-time a nice end/start of the day! Oh, and calculating the CO2 impact from this is very easy with Commute Greener!. Try it out.
btw, We have a new release of Commute Greener!. As far as I know the web version (usable on any phone with internet access) and on a computer is up, and the iPhone version is on its way. The new version features new zero emission activities, indexes and should make a green commute even easier. Register at www.commutegreener.com