Most days, not owning a car makes my life more relaxed. I hear other parents at school drop-off fret about taking a car in for an oil change or repairs, and think, “That’s one thing I don’t have to squeeze in today.”
But tomorrow, I have to go somewhere that’s more than 5 miles from my house. This is when not owning a car causes me a little extra work. I have to plan it.
My husband travels about 15 miles to work every day without a car, but that’s different, because he goes to the same place every day, and he’s traveling to one of the most transit-connected neighborhoods of the whole Bay Area — San Francisco’s Financial District.
But tomorrow, I have to travel to San Francisco State University for a journalism conference. It’s only about 22 miles away, but there is no straight transit connection between my house and there.
First, I mapped out the trip to see how long it would take using a combination of cycling and public transit. The shortest travel time Google Maps gives me is about 90 minutes.
That’s not terrible, since luckily my husband is able to work from home tomorrow and he can get the kids off to school without me. But just for comparison’s sake, I asked Google for driving time as well. Google Maps says 51 minutes, although that’s not taking into account rush hour traffic.
I check Priceline to see if there are any terrific deals on rental cars avaialable for tomorrow. There are not. In fact, they are some of the highest prices I have ever seen, like $89 a day for an economy car! Oh well. Since we don’t need a car for anything else this weekend, traveling to the airport to pick one up and then returning it again tomorrow would negate any time savings from driving versus transit.
So I conclude that BART is the best way for me to cover most of the ground between me and SF State. Next, I consider whether I should use my bicycle to cover the 2 miles from my house to BART, and the 3 miles from BART to my final destination. Riding my bike is my favorite way to get to BART, because I can get some exercise and enjoy the scenery crossing the bridge, instead of sitting in a bus where I will feel a little nauseated. Once I get to BART, I have the option of leaving my bike at the free bike valet, or bringing it with me to use on the other end. However, if I use the bike valet, I should be back to pick it up by the 6 p.m. closing time, or I’ll have to pay $5 for overnight storage and go back to get it on Saturday morning.
I look at the map of the route from the Daly City BART to SF State. There is a pretty lake there. But I am unfamiliar with the terrain so I don’t know if the roads are safe for biking. If I don’t bring my bike to San Francisco, there is a bus I can take to cut the 3-mile gap at the end of the trip in half.
Then I look at my conference schedule. There is a two-hour social gathering at the end of the day. By the time it ends at 7:30, it will be dark out. Since I don’t get out for networking very often, I want to make the most of my day and stay for the social hour if I am enjoying it and meeting people. Also, it occurs to me that I might meet someone at the conference who lives near me and could give me a ride home, or to BART.
In the end, here is the plan I decide on:
7:15 a.m. Leave house, walk to bus stop.
7:30 Bus to BART
7:41 BART to Daly City
8:15 walk to SF State
9 a.m. Arrive SF State
I could take the bus for the last leg if I wanted, but I think a 45-minute walk along a lake will be a nice way to start the day and satisfy my Fitbit before spending the day mostly sitting down.
All this took me about half an hour to figure out, and traveling there without a car may take me an extra hour or so tomorrow. On the other hand, I won’t have to spend any time sitting in traffic or searching for parking once I arrive, so it might not be that much more time consuming in the end. Also, on my trip I’ll have time to read and get my day’s exercise, instead of just sitting in the car. So here’s hoping that it all works out in my favor.
I also installed Uber on my phone, in case I want to have that service drive me to BART at the end of the day.