Road Zombies (Yes, it’s a real thing)
Recently I wrote about freeways and about how much I love urban life. Then today, while going through my feed reader, I came across an article on TreeHugger talking about “Road Zombies” and “extreme commuters”.
According to census data, there are more extreme commuters than ever, with 3.4 million of them just in the U.S., a number that is up 95% since 1990….. This is what economists call “the commuting paradox.” Most people travel long distances with the idea that they’ll accept the burden for something better, be it a house, salary, or school. They presume the trade-off is worth the agony. But studies show that commuters are on average much less satisfied with their lives than noncommuters. A commuter who travels one hour, one way, would have to make 40% more than his current salary to be as fully satisfied with his life as a noncommuter, say economists Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer of the University of Zurich’s Institute for Empirical Research in Economics. People usually overestimate the value of the things they’ll obtain by commuting — more money, more material goods, more prestige — and underestimate the benefit of what they are losing: social connections, hobbies, and health. “Commuting is a stress that doesn’t pay off,”
Consider the costs involved in commuting: fuel, vehicle maintenance, extra day-care costs because of your commute, less leisure time, impaired eating practices…the list goes on.
To be perfectly honest, I first enjoyed this article because I thought it validated some of my arguements. But then I got to thinking, and realized how happy I am to know that I don’t have stress levels that suburban commuters do.
I’ll take my city life with street-lights and parks and coffee shops and the occasional hobo over your big lawns and lives spent in cars anyday.