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Archive for July 15th, 2008

10 – 20 – 40

On the days when I’m cruising around Columbus running errands, meeting friends, catching a film at the Wexner Center or just commuting to and from work its not uncommon for me to ride on any number of busses throughout the day.  I’d met up with a friend one evening and knowing that I arrived by bus he asked if I carried the schedules with me or if I’d memorized them.
“Neither”, I told him.  “But I do know along which streets the major routes run”.

What I’ve noticed since starting the COTA Challenge in January that there seems to be a rhythm about public transportation that mirrors the rhythm of daily activities.  I find it to be 10-20-40 minute cycle.

Most of daily tasks will fall into one of these three categories, or multiples thereof.   A visit to the bank lasts about ten minutes.  The same is true when picking up something from the dry cleaner.  A quick trip to the grocer to get a few things for dinner takes about twenty minutes, as does a visit to the local branch of the library.  A trip to Target or a lunch in the Short North falls into the forty-minute category.  Dinner and drinks on the town or a BBQ at a friends house lasts longer, but usually in multiples of 30 or 60.

Most COTA bus routes operate with 30 and 60 minute headways.  Some, like the #2 run with 10-20 headways.  The #16 now operates with 20-45 minute headways. .  Overlay the 10-20-40 minute cycle on top of the 20-30-45-60 cycle of public transportation and the next available bus is never too far away.

Knowingly, its not always the next bus to your destination.  Its possible that a bit of a walk is in order – a few extra blocks or maybe just around the corner to catch the next route.  Even when this is the case, transit routes typically pass through areas of commerce, so there’s time to window shop, pick up a loaf of bread, grab an espresso and very likely bump into your friends and neighbors who are doing the same thing.  It’s not a matter of necessarily knowing the times but rather knowing where the routes travel.

I grew up in Minneapolis with access three major bus lines that ran with 10-20-30 minute headways, so it might be that this rhythm became a part of my life at an early age.   Whether that’s the case or not, it seems to work for me when I’m in Minneapolis, San Francisco, New York, Toronto or Columbus.

Whether your use public transportation or not consider observing your routine to see if, in fact, your daily tasks fall into a 10-20-40 minute cycle.  I’m curious to hear what you find.

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Motion Sensitive

And even as protest strikes rippled across Spain and edged into France, Europeans had taken conservation measures that in the long haul leave them better-prepared than Americans to deal with the energy crunch ahead.

Commentary from the July 14th issue of The Christian Science Monitor.

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