Archive for June, 2008

Six months ago I embarked upon a personal challenge to determine how cost effective it would be to use public transportation when it was convenient – convenient for me. I wanted my time on public transit to reflect what the average person could save by replacing the use of their car once, twice, maybe three times a week.

Living just a mile south of downtown Columbus has its advantages and the convenience of in-town living means that I can walk to just about anything. The car had been used mostly for getting to and from work, but because gas was [relatively] inexpensive, I’d occasionally drive over to Target or venture to up to Tuttle to enjoy one of my favorite restaurants. Through the months of January, February and March I saved enough money from not buying gas that I decided to take the challenge further. How much more could I save?

My employer-sponsored transit subsidy helped me realize further savings and I started taking the bus to work when it wasn’t convenient – namely catching the first bus of the morning which departs before many of the neighbors are even awake. I stopped driving to the places I wanted to go and found ways to get there on the bus, and if I couldn’t get there with the bus I decided not to go. I was forcing the issue, yes, but I also wanted to force myself to deal with life on as level that was as local as I could make it.

As I adjusted to the new schedule I found that I was reading more because I had dedicated time for it – my daily 55 minute commute to and from work offered that. I spent less time chatting with friends on Yahoo Messenger because I was actually seeing them around the neighborhood and we started doing things together, live, face to face. I was walking more, to and from the grocery store for example, and walking to the bank, the hardware store, library or Blockbuster rather than taking the car and I shed twenty pounds within five months. When I found that most of my pants were too large, I walked to the new thrift store and bought a new ones.

Now at the end of June I’ve become so accustomed to taking the bus to work that when do drive I have to make a note for myself to not walk to the bus stop so as not to forget my car. I’ve become so accustomed to public transportation that on my last set of days (Friday and Saturday) off I traveled around the city on eleven different busses while running errands and enjoying my leisure time.

Best of all, year to date, I’ve spent just $221.89 in gas and used only about 63 gallons of gas.

I went far beyond what I’d originally set out to with the COTA Challenge. Its no longer a challenge. It’s become a more relaxing way to live and I don’t have to spend time thinking about how the cost of gas is deteriorating my life. Frankly, the high cost of gas has improved my life.

Look for an upcoming post on what I refer to as the rhythm of public transportation. I’ve found that there’s a method to what some may call the madness, and it has little to do with memorizing bus schedules.

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Cupcakes in German Village

Bakery Gingham is serving them up just blocks from home. Its as if there is a city-wide conspiracy.

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The day started with hanging the clothes out to dry and a pre-noon meet up with a neighbor at the MoJoe Lounge in German Village.  It was close enough to lunch time so we ordered something to eat and caught up with the neighborhood gossip.

From there it was to Pistachia Vera for some delightful treats and a quick chat with Ann while we enjoyed the new sidewalk seating.   Home via City Park and Schiller Park, the clothes were dry by the time I got back.

Later in the afternoon it was the #8 that whisked me downtown en-route to the Columbus Social Media Cafe held, this month at TechColumbus.  I transfered to the #2 and again to the #84 on 15th and High.  On the 84 bus I ran into Jennifer who was also on her way to CSMC.  She and I had an impromptu conversation with a couple other passengers about the noticeable increase in transit ridership.

Familiar friends and new faces joined us for another great evening as we continue to mould and define the role that the Columbus Social Media Cafe will serve.  Visitors to this weekend’s ComFest will be able to meet a handful of the SCMC participants at the New Media Pavilion (the Goodale Park shelter-house) throughout the event.

Following the meeting it was off to High Street on the back of a buddy’s motorcycle.  While the #8 came by just moments later, I decided to walk a bit and take in the sights of what seemed to be unusually active High Street, at least for a Tuesday night.

At Price and High I ran into David of DoMedia.  The entire front of his office opens to the street.   He and some friends were enjoying some beer and talking to a woman who had excused herself from a bad blind date at the Rossi.  There was an Edward Hopper feeling about this.

I passed more cupcakes, albeit paper mache cupcakes at On Paper.  Some of you may know that I’m on a cupcake strike – a little more than three months into it and I’m working tirelessly to resolve it.  Ironically, Jennifer brought home-made cupcakes to the Columbus Social Media Cafe this evening and I had to politely pass the box to Suzanne.

Further south I ran into my neighbor Joe who was having a smoke between drinks at Lemon Grass.  He and I chatted a bit while the #2 approached.  I excused myself, boarded the bus and was off to Broad Street where I caught the #16.  The beautiful evening necessitated staying out even longer, so I jumped off at Sycamore and stopped in to Cup O’Joe for a decaf and a walk home through Schiller Park.

Along my street I ran into a couple of neighbors and Pete, the bartender at Easy Street on Thurman.

And this is what I love about Columbus – the ability to head out for a walk and know that you’ll run into people that you know on any given night of the week, on virtually any street – even in the most obscure settings.

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These are paper mache’ at "On Paper" on North High Street.

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It doesn’t matter to me what office program she uses or what her flyers look like. All I know is that Amy Sedaris will soon be baking cupcakes for me.

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A friend pointed this out the other day.  A Google search of COTA’s web site now is now tagged with a disclaimer (from Google) that the site may harm one’s computer.

Google states that the page(s) may contain malicious software or that the site may have been hacked.  I’ve searched a couple of other public transit sites and did not see a similar warning.

Could this simply be a coding error on the part of the COTA webmaster?

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