Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mississauga and being car-free

Today, a meeting brought me to Mississauga; by car of course. The City of Mississauga must be the part of the Greater Toronto Area best served by expressways. In most parts of the city, expressways are only 4 km apart.

The city is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. It seems that all the companies I deal with have located their offices there. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say “well it’s the best location for our office because it’s a half hour drive to everywhere.” This is far from true. Not only is it typically 45 minutes to the eastern suburban office center (Richmond Hill/Markham), but if there is any traffic, that time could easily be doubled. And traffic problems are so persistent, the traffic reporters always just refer to the traffic as “building normally”. Fortunately I was able to avoid rush hour this morning.

Days like today would be much more challenging if I decided to live without a car. I would have had to either skip the meeting, or rent a car for the day. Actually, renting a car for the day is a pretty reasonable solution if I were even a tiny bit organized.

The discussion Jim has started about going for job interviews by bike is making me think about my concerns about office image. I know it sounds like a high school concern, but there are always going to be people who make decisions, sometimes based on intangibles. My reputation is fairly well established at work, as far as I know, but in the end it’s hard to tell how people view someone who goes to lengths to live his or her life a little differently from others.

Even with any solutions I come up with renting cars or taking transit, living entirely without owning a car in my field of work (high tech, to be vague) could leave me labeled as eccentric by any colleagues who don’t know me very well. I don’t really care too much about such a label, except if it were to affect my progress at work. One of my friends was talking about how good it is to work at an office where you can lock your bike, enter near the showers, change and arrive at your desk just like everyone else. He was concerned about appearing “too into his hobbies”.

I don’t really have a conclusion to this line of thinking. So far, the balance I’ve found is working well for me, even if it does cost me a fair bit more. I choose to keep my car for practical reasons.


Darren J 11/03/2005 11:12:00 PM

4 Comments:

If you do ever decide to go completely car-free, you might think about joining Autoshare. They've got more than 50 vehicles all over the city, and you can rent by the hour - ideal for those afternoon meetings out in the boonies.

Also means you won't have a gap in insurance coverage if you do decide to get back into the auto game at some point in the future.

I hear you on the freakazoid factor, though. Art
Buchwald
said that "people can accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater, and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there is something wrong with him". That about sums it up.
If you drive insanely infrequently, every trip costs you so much coin because of the high fixed costs of car ownership esp. insurance in the GTA. (so AutoShare is probably useful to look into)

Mississauga is actually more bike friendly and has more public transit than my original preconceived notions of it. That said, its probably not very feasible to go from Richmond Hill to Markham and back to the office again in a time efficient manner without a car.

But I still don't buy work should force you to have a car. Was anybody else going to the meeting from your office (for carpooling)? If not and the meeting was essential I would expect the employer to offer to pay for a taxi. Or if the commute is easier by transit from your house letting you work from home for the rest of the day after your meeting. I hope at least they reimbursed you for the driving.
er that was obviously meant to say Mississauga not Markham.
On the Autoshare topic... it may be possible to get a discount on the membership in the near future through MAP ... we're still in discussions... at the very least, Autoshare will probably be a "Promotional Partner"... getting the word out about MAP to its members.

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