I speculate that the reason I am fascinated by transportation and transportation planning is because I have experienced different transportation environments in my life, actually extremes, and have experienced the major problems associated with the built transportation environment.
I grew up in rural Eastern Kentucky between stints in rural Southwestern Ohio, Nashville, TN and Dayton, OH.
The rural areas were characterized by two lane roads, few amenities and no options for public transit. There was no such thing as rush hour in those areas.
The urban areas were typical cities, piled with amenities within walking distance, criss-crossed with mass transit, pedestrian and cycling options and buried under gridlock during rush hours.
My philosophies on living, working and playing have evolved over the years and I think I finally have a pretty good idea of what the perfect locale would be for me. Its funny, I can see either extreme being fantastic if all three elements can come together. If I can live and work in close proximity near the fringe of an urban area I think I can satisfactorily balance living, working and playing.
Where we live now approaches transportation nirvana for me. I am still a bit disappointed with my commuting options, but they are tenfold better than the options I had living in the rural areas of Kentucky and Ohio.
If we lived on the other side of Green Mountain, anywhere between Green Mountain and South Table Mountain, my commute would be a no brainer. I could ride my bike to work in less than 20 minutes and maybe even walk depending on where we were located.
So I see how things are much improved here. I still see where small improvements could be made. I wish there were more dedicated bike paths to get one around the Denver Metro area, but still, there are hundreds of miles of paths. The holes are frustrating...
I enjoy having been able to visualize a place where I could meet my goals of being able to use alternate methods of transportation to get by on a daily basis. I think I always struggled with that and its no longer a struggle.
This is a good article: http://www.planning.org/planning/2009/nov/trafficcalming.htm
You'll have to sign in to see it.
Also, check out this article from Outside's Oct. 2009 issue.
One thing that always seems to get left out of the "You can bicycle commute" articles and lists is:
Find co-workers who already commute and glean what you can from them.
I think this is phenomenal advice (especially considering the source, ME!) because those that already ride in your community and to your place of work will best know the most pertinent issues you'll face in trying to get going with a new bicycle commute.
Best example I can think of is that when I started riding in Colorado I was unfamiliar with goat heads. We just didn't have them in the East. A co-worker showed me what they were, what I needed to do to properly fix the affected tire and how to avoid getting them in the first place.
Thanks to having him as a resource I was able to go from getting upwards of 7 goatheads in one ride to none in almost a year.
Co-workers will know the best places to clean up, store bike and gear, best routes to and from work, tie-ins with public transportation and any other location specific issues. I think that should become a standard list item in those sorts of articles and blog blurbs.
Some stats since I have started back riding to work:
In the past 19 work days I have ridden 14. Four of those I opted not to ride due to snow or ice and today I didn't feel well when I left for work so I drove.
I hope I can start using the bike or my own two feet to get to the store when I need to go, to Cub Scouts and other places. We're actually doing really well with one car right now. Of course the winter hasn't settled fully upon us.