Kira Jewett: A resolution to leave car home marred by weak public transport
To the editor:
I took the opportunity of having children away recently to try a little sustainable-living experiment: I promised myself that, during the entire week they were gone, I would not drive alone in a vehicle for any trip under 15 miles one way.
This meant I needed to bike, carpool or take public transit. I’m in good physical shape, but I was counting on the latter two options to keep from having to bike long distances, in bad weather or with heavy loads. My first test came with a meeting in Holyoke, 12 mountainous miles from my home. I cheerfully checked PVTA schedules, only to find that the best route came once an hour, took an hour and a half with a transfer, and would drop me almost a mile from my destination.
And so I biked — but in the hot weather, it felt like an all-day affair. Two days later I faced a similar quandary trying to hike the Seven Sisters with friends who couldn’t carpool; I ended up biking 11 miles to the trailhead, then tackling the hike. The final blow came when I needed to bring my fiddle to a rehearsal at night and in the rain — I wasn’t willing to risk damage to my instrument, so I broke down and drove.
My experiment left me saddened and frustrated. Though I nearly kept my promise, add children, groceries, time crunches or bad weather and fossil fuel looks like the only option. I also gained appreciation for the difficulties faced by those who can’t afford cars — they must greatly curtail their life experiences, planning their days around a bus or ride for absolute necessities.
I hope a Valley as socially proactive as this can find a way to ensure affordable, accessible, clean transportation for all its residents.