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20 February 2011 @ 09:21 am
First world problems: alternative transportation issue  
One more reason I'm not looking forward to Amazon's move to SLU: The commute. When I first started at Amazon, I could take the bus to or from the PacMed building in 20 minutes, or walk it in about 45. The past few years downtown, I've been able to get there or back in about 45 minutes by transit - maybe an hour if I walked halfway. With the new campus, I have one more transfer added after getting downtown. Google's route planner says that it will take an hour to get each direction by my usual pedestrian+transit methods, best-case scenario. The more likely one-way commute scenario is in the 75-minute range, to go 5.5 miles.

So, here are my options:

Take the bus and cope. Be glad I get a free bus pass. Enjoy the reading time. An hour isn't that bad, right? This will be my default, at least for the first few months. If I get really, REALLY sick of this, I might consider other options.

Drive. Pay for parking. Be part of the traffic problem. Since Amazon does reimburse parking - but not enough for a full-month parking pass - I might do this 2 or 3 days a month.

Work from home more often. This really doesn't work well with how the new team is structured, and the "tech leader" role I'm trying to cultivate. I'll be dialing up this option (while looking for employment elsewhere and complaining to HR) if the dogs at the new campus are a Problem.

Get a bicycle. It's about 5.5 miles each way, with some hills. Would be good exercise? Too much? I'm not an experienced bicycle commuter, and this would take me through some of the densest parts of the city - as well as my own not-particularly-bicycle-friendly neighborhood, so there is a safety concern. I don't like making the hipster Critical Masshole gestapo of the First Hill/Lower Capital Hill segments of my commute happy, and acknowledge that they will probably throw rotten eggs and moldy tofu at me if they see me following through on any of the suggestions further down this page. I haven't ridden a bicycle since the 80s.

Vespa-Scooter-Moped-etc.. Probably not much safer than the bicycle option. Less intimidating than riding a bike UP Boren, UP First Hill, and UP Beacon Hill after a long day's work. Much more fuel efficient than a car. Starting into dork territory, which might be offset a little by hanging with the Georgetown Smarty Pants crowd. Not sidewalk legal, if it burns gas. I've never ridden a scooter. Do I need to get a Motorcycle Endorsement on my license?

Segway. Electricity is cheap and clean here, thanks to hydroelectricity. Street, sidewalk, and trail-legal, in this city. Probably not safer than a bicycle. Maximum dorkage, constant derision, would make my way onto a failblog within a week - especially when I do a helmet-and-raincoat combo. My round-trip commute would be well within the stated 24-mile range of the i2, even with hills and stopping for groceries. How does it handle, on hills, in the rain?
 
 
 
Turning the Schmaltz up to 11pullthestars on February 20th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
I'd really stick to the bus option, myself. Driving is expensive, and I'm not sure how much the Mercer revamp would affect you getting down there.
(Anonymous) on February 20th, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
I really don't think the Mercer revamp will have an impact on me with any of these options, since I'd be getting there via surface streets and never crossing Mercer.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on February 20th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that was me.
Turning the Schmaltz up to 11pullthestars on February 20th, 2011 05:54 pm (UTC)
Figured that :)

wasn't sure if it would be driving traffic onto alternate routes.
Her Holiness the Rev. Holly Z, KSCsharkcowsheep on February 20th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Direct inverse correlation between commute length and subjective well-being. Two hours a day is a fucklot of time.

Also to hell with riding a bike up three hills at the end of the day, especially when the weather's crap and it gets dark early. The people who do that are Bike People. You are not Bike People.

Conclusion: SCOOTER! You don't need anything extra on your driver's license, just the driver's license itself. Get a pink one and everyone will assume it's a masterfully ironic gesture.
Nina Forsythninaf on February 20th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Bus to the SLUT? My husband hates dogs but he said they weren't too bad to deal with.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on February 20th, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
In my case, it's "bus to bus to SLUT", or "bus to Light Rail to SLUT" or "walk to bus to SLUT". That's one of the "hour or more by transit" options.

I already have paperwork on file with HR, and have requested Reasonable Accommodations to minimize my interaction with dogs. As long as my dog-owning coworkers obey Amazon's rules (e.g. no dogs in conference rooms or kitchenets, no dogs in your work-area without the explicit approval of those who share your work area, no dogs off-leash EVER), I should be OK.
Nina Forsythninaf on February 20th, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
Tom says they are always off leash. He says they would run down halls and into his desk area.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on February 20th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
Ooof. Fortunately, the HR rep for my floor is also an allergy sufferer, so I have a sympathetic in.
Meaghanladymeag on February 20th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
From the options listed, I'd say the Vespa/Scooter is your best option. An hour on a bus (according to schedules, which means an hour an a half or more when there is a parade, popular sporting event, protest, or the lovely 3-plus hour delay for the Christmas-time Figgy Pudding crap) is a lot of time each way and if it involves more than one Metro bus, you're looking at delays, missed connections and the like. I know someone that cat-sits in Seattle that rides a scooter and it seems to do her really well for getting around all over.

Where would you park a scooter or a Segway?

I think with you've got more protection from cars/buses/pedestrians throwing things on a scooter than you do on a Segway. I think uphill biking on a rainy day after a long day of work sounds like it would suck.

About the "pet-friendly" workplace - really? With an open plan workspace? Have they never heard of people with allergies? What about people who are just plain afraid of dogs? Can people bring their kids in now instead of taking them to daycare - I mean, a six year old is way more self-sufficient than a small dog that needs to be walked every few hours and slightly less likely to bite you. I'm not a fan of the dog-friendly work environment. I've seen it a lot around here and it seems to just be an excuse to keep you at work longer - I mean, your dog, your computer and food are all here, whattya need to go home for?
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on February 20th, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)
Bicycle/motorcycle/scooter parking is free, in the Amazon.com garages.

Yes, pet-friendly workplaces are asinine, and have no place in any modern large-scale business that is not explicitly focused on dogs. I've already worked with HR, complained to space planning, and voiced my complaints up the administrative chain.
Fireball of 3fireballof3 on February 21st, 2011 06:29 am (UTC)
You could always do a bike/bus combo. Biking uphill at the end of a day sucks butt, but there is a goodly amount of relatively flat going through downtown, and then you can potentially catch a bus at Intl. District to get up the hill at least, if not the rest of the way home.

And the biking TO work doesn't seem like a big deal.
Thom Marrionxnbach on February 21st, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
My first thought would be to take the Light Rail from Beacon Hill to Westlake , walk to the SLUT and take the rest of the way.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on February 21st, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
Yep, combinations of Light Rail and SLUT are among the hour-ish transit options. I'm not limiting myself to transit=bus.