Reboot The Commute!

by Christopher Dunne

port·man·teau
ˌpôrtˈmantō/

a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (from ‘motor’ and ‘hotel’) or brunch (from ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).
“podcast is a portmanteau, a made-up word coined from a combination of the words iPod and broadcast”

I’m struggling to come up with a good portmanteau and it’s an important one for urbanists: what do you call the reclaiming of your commute as a time for exercise?

“Commutilization”? “Commutercise”? “Commusefulness”?

Blech.

Wording aside, I do think it is one of the understated benefits of biking, walking or running to and from work. Instead of devoting that time to fighting traffic and keeping your eyes glued to the road, you can be getting some much-needed cardio and soaking up the city on two wheels or two feet.

So often the arguments I hear for bike commuting or just living within walking distance of your workplace are about sacrifice for the greater good. Go without the convenience of your car and help reduce congestion, pollution and other nefarious externalities for everyone else. It’s a laudable goal but I’m skeptical that an ethos of self-sacrifice alone can help us solve these problems.

Instead, I like to accentuate the positive of taking a break from your motor vehicle when you can. Highland Planning makes that easier than a lot of workplaces. We’ve got some nice wall mounts for bike storage, a relatively central location and, most importantly, a distinct lack of judginess when you don yoga pants, running shorts or a dorky helmet.

Of course, being able to transform your commute into a walk, a run or a bike ride requires more than just a friendly office environment. It also depends on the urbanenvironment and how people choose to get around.

This summer, residents of Rochester have the opportunity to weigh in on this very question. The City is in the midst of a Comprehensive Access and Mobility Plan(CAMP) study, the results of which will shape the multi-modal transportation component of the City’s wider 2034 Comprehensive Plan. If you haven’t gotten the chance already take the survey and tell us your vision for mobility in Rochester.

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