Tag Archives: commute

BE’s Seven Simple Rules of the Road

 

The vast majority of working (or even non-working) adults own a car and have to drive. We drive to work, to school, to the store, to the bank, to the mall, to children’s practices and events, to visit friends and family, to go on vacation.

I know MMM would like to punch us all in the face for that, but it is a fact of life. Most of us just cannot, or will not, function without a car.

Related Post: My Commuting Mistake

So, since we will all spend approximately 9999999 hours sitting in traffic (not an actual statistic, I hope), we should all at least agree on some basic fundamental rules.

At least I assume everyone who is driving holds a valid license.

And to get that license, you had to complete Drivers Ed training.

Maybe that was 4 decades ago, but still. You learned the rules at some point.

But as we get out onto the road and actually drive, those rules tend to morph and change and fall by the wayside. We make up our own rules, and tend to ignore the less convenient ones.

We think whatever it is we need to do and wherever it is we are going is SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than that of the other 367254387 cars on the road around us.

So, let me remind you of the rules, and add a few of my own.

Cuss words changed to be more colorful and reader friendly.

  1. Learn how to forking zipper.
    Say you are on a road, where two lanes merge into one. You are in the blue car, the green car is in front of you. You see the red car on the left, trying to merge.What do you do?a) Speed up and ride the green car so the red car can’t get in and you can get home 0.05 seconds faster
    b) Not be a donkey and let the red car in
    how to zipper
    The ONLY acceptable answer is b. Do not be a donkey.Nothing makes my blood boil like some forking gremlin a-hole driving dangerously close to the car in front and studiously avoiding eye contact while you correctly have your turn signal blinking (see #3) and are trying to merge into a lane.
  2. The flip side of that is, do not just zip down the left lane and cut your turn in line because YOU want to get home 0.04 seconds faster.

    Literally everyone in the right lane who zippered correctly now hates you and is hoping you die in a ditch. In case you didn’t know.

  3. Use your gremlin turn signals. Correctly.
    There is not much in life that will rocket my blood pressure faster than someone who just assumes all the lanes are theirs to swerve through and cuts me off with nary a heads up or sorry I’m an idiot wave.

    IF YOU ARE TURNING OR MERGING PUT YOUR BLINKER ON. 

    That is literally the purpose for which they exist.

    AND THEN REMEMBER TO TURN THEM OFF.

    Please don’t drive for 2 miles in the right lane with your left blinker on, causing nice people who want to let you in some serious confusion and slow downs. Or turn on your left blinker, but then turn right. Again, die in a ditch, please.

  4. Do. not. tailgate. period. I will mess with you.
    People who ride my bumper when I am already doing 10-15 over the speed limit?

    Bruh, I don’t care if your wife is about to give birth, if your house is on fire, or you just don’t want to miss the start of the game.

    Imma slow down to exactly the speed of the car in the right lane, and ride it out until the next stop light. Then I’m gonna wait when it turns green, until just before it turns red, and zoom through to get you stuck there.

    You flashing your lights, or honking at me, will just make me smile.

    And no regrets. I hope you learn your lesson.

  5. Leave some space between you and the car in front of you.
    Not exactly like #4 above, but to prevent yourself from having to tap the brakes every 3 seconds.

    THIS is the cause of most traffic jams, according to physics & math.

    If all cars left an appropriate amount of space (1 car length for every 10 mph you are going, remember?) we could avoid a lot of 8am and 5pm cussing.

  6. If you are on a bike, or walking, you have rights.
    But YOU ARE NOT A CAR. No matter what NC says.

    Don’t get me wrong. The onus for avoiding crashes rests securely on ALL parties shoulders.

    Cars need to be aware at all times. NO texting. No games. Not even a phone call unless it’s with a hands-free device. And to respect pedestrians’ rights to cross at crosswalks, and cyclists’ right to be on the road too.

    But pedestrians also need common sense of ‘look both ways’ before you cross, comply with traffic lights and crossing signals.

    Bicyclists should follow all the same traffic laws as cars do, and not ride side-by-side in the middle of a road that has a speed limit of 45 and you’re going a maximum of 20 mph.

  7. There is a fine line between proper caution in weather and being a donkey.
    Also, weather is not an excuse to drive like a donkey.

    Whether you’re a 70-year veteran of driving in Montana winters or a delicate snowflake raised on the Equator who doesn’t know what snow it, people freak the fork out when it precipitates.

    All the same road laws still apply. Still, and especially now, do not tailgate, change lanes without warning, speed (too much).

    Some people seem to take a deluge as an excuse to blow past the “slow” people at 30 over the speed limit, just because they have all wheel drive or something.

    But now, yes, some extra caution is advised. The more severe the weather, the more cautious you ought to be. Having hit mailboxes and guard rails during snow or rain, even though I was doing everything right, I can say that accidents do and will happen. You should try your best to mitigate those risks.

    On the flip side, don’t be the shirt-head who is now cruising on the highway at 20mph with your flashers on. It is literally only sprinkling. And you’re dumb.

traffic at night

There you have it, seven simple rules to make everyone have a much more peaceful, harmonious drive. None of us want to be there, but we all have to be. So show a little compassion and understanding, and we will all get where we’re going.

 

What say you? Too harsh? Not strong enough words? Are there any rules you wish we could get rid of, or enforce?

 

My Commuting Mistake

Once upon a time, we lived in a cold, dark place called Connecticut, where in the winter even a $600 electric bill couldn’t save you from the cold. Then we wised up and decided to move south of the Mason-Dixon line.

When we moved, we estimated that anywhere within 20 miles of my future workplace would be okay. What we didn’t realize is that 20 miles does not necessarily translate into 20 minutes in morning city traffic… and that a long commute is one of the number one money wasters in our modern American life.

Therefore, when we found a great bargain on a house that fit all our specifications, we didn’t even think about it, we just jumped on a plane to sign the offer papers. And even though I am only 16.5 miles from door to door as the crow flies (or as the highway meanders, whatever), it takes 30 minutes on a GOOD DAY with no traffic to get from home to work and vice versa.

Heaven forbid there is a wreck or construction, or even “unusual traffic along your route”, then dinner won’t be until after dark. And I get hangry around 5:30pm.

When I first began working at my current location, there were a ‘park-and-ride’ option. I tried all the things, from 4 different lots in different places and 2 separate bus systems (Chapel Hill Transit and the Go Triangle transit). I tried each system for a week, to see which saved the most amount of time in driving to-and-from, as well as the on-the-bus portion.

Having 15-30 minutes on a bus is nice in a way. It gives you stress-free time to think about life, go over the day, plan ahead, craft blog posts, or read a book. It also introduced me to a few other fellow bus riders, at least two of which became friends.

And it helps that some of these fellow riders are really good humans. It also helps that the bus options are far cheaper, from $0 for the Go Triangle pass to less than $100 for the Park and Ride.

However. I must admit to a shameful truth.

I am a spendypants when it comes to commuting.

I know Mr. Money Mustache may revoke my frugal card and never return my phone calls (HAHAHA), but I then applied for a waitlist for an on-campus parking pass.

And I got one.

GASP

Yes, I paid double the money yearly to try out a parking lot on campus. I tried two different lots, 2 blocks apart.

Now I walk the minimum distance from my car to my building per day, and have 3 different escape routes from campus at 5pm.

A quick check of Google maps tells me which way to turn to avoid the most traffic. And now I get home in about 30 minutes, reliably, every day.

Time is money?

I’m not sure, I haven’t run the exact numbers. But I guess what I’ve learned is that, for me and at this point in life, I am comfortable sacrificing a small amount of money per year, plus a not-negligible amount of money in repair/maintenance/gas costs in order to have the convenience and time returned to me in the form of driving.

What brought me to this conclusion? What might tip the balance back to the bus system?

Flexibility in when I leave

Right now, our hours are ‘set’ at 8:30 – 5pm. But that isn’t how real life works most days. Sometimes I have to be in the office earlier, sometimes stay later. Projects and deadlines happen.

But we are limited to a strict 40 hours per week, so once you hit that, you’re done for the week, get out.

So being able to leave earlier on a day of my choosing to make it all add up is really great. If my schedule became rock-solid for some reason, I’d probably consider other options, like carpooling.

I am the primary dinner-maker

See above? I’m the primary dinner-maker, and grocery-shopper, and errand-runner. My wonderful, generous, hilarious hubs is basically a hermit (has he left the house since August? Not sure…), whereas I love being out and about in the world.

So if we need milk, a package dropped off, dry cleaning to do, or a vet to visit, I am pretty much the one to do it.

And having more time in the evenings is key to adulting.

If another commute option arose which gave me MORE time, or proved more convenient (like being next to a place I frequently shop) I’d consider it.

Gas prices are reasonable right now

Even with Harvey and Maria and whoever comes next, gas prices this year have been mostly below $2.50 per gallon. That means that I fill my tank for about $20, and pretty much only once every other week. See below as well. If this changes and gas prices rose, I would definitely consider other ways of getting where I need to go.

A paid-off, older model vehicle with great gas mileage

Both our cars are reliable Hondas, 2005 and 2006, with less than 120,000 miles. They are both fully paid off, and have newish tires (within the past 3 years).

Though mine has been giving us some issues lately, overall these should have another several years worth of driving left in them.

Our insurance is super cheap, maintenance is negligible, gas mileage is stellar, and Honda engines run like a dream. When one or both someday bite the dust, or if Tesla magically creates a 10K car, we are definitely going to be in the car market, and I would re-evaluate.

We bought a house, and the mortgage is great

The house we bought fits our needs right now and for the foreseeable future. A similarly sized house closer to work would easily cost twice to four times as much.

We do have alerts set for a specific mile radius and price range, but barring a huge housing market downturn I highly doubt the ‘hot spots’ of the Triangle will become MORE affordable in the future.

However, if the perfect diamond in the rough house comes on the market, you better believe we will be all over that. And turn ours into a rental. Bonus.

 

What do you think? Is the trade-off of driving worth it? How far do you commute? Should I hang up my PF Blogger Pants and never write again, you terrible non-bike-riding human?