My route to work.

Given the discussion in a different thread on America’s reliance on cars versus mass transit sparked by Neil’s comments about the same in England I thought I’d take a moment to map out my route to work every day to give you folks in Europe an idea of the distance involved. Click the image below for a bigger version.

According to Google Maps the distance is 48.2 miles and should take around 51 minutes to traverse at the speed limit and without any other traffic to speak of. A couple of interesting things to note at this scale of the map is that it’s very easy to distinguish where the primary suburbs are and where things start to become more rural just by the density of the major streets. If you follow the I-96/I-275 highway down from the I-96/I-696 exchange you’ll come to Canton where I used to live and where I hope to be returning come this August. As you can see Canton is right on the bleeding edge between suburb and rural which makes it a nice place to live. Still suburban enough for close access to stores and resources, but rural enough to not feel quite so damned crowded. The street I used to live off of still has a cow pasture on it with actual cows.

If you follow I-75 north from my work address you’ll come to Pontiac which is the city I grew up in. Pontiac is probably the next biggest urban area outside of Detroit that isn’t in Canada and it suffers from a lot of the same problems Detroit does. If you go anywhere in the U.S. and say you’re from Detroit you’ll get this look that is often a mixture of awe and fear as though you have to be one helluva badass to live in that town. In South Eastern Michigan you can get the same look by saying you’re from Pontiac. I spent my first 17 years there on the north west side in a neighborhood that had more than it’s fair share of hillbillies and Mexicans in it. For being admittedly a pretty crappy city I have some fond memories of my time there.

More relevant to the discussion we were having earlier, if you look closely you can see a handful of rail lines running through the area. Most of that is for freight traffic as opposed to passenger service so before light rail could become a bigger factor here there’d have to be a major investment in new lines and considering that Amtrak is pretty much propped up by the government that ain’t gonna be happening anytime soon. The situation with bus service is quite a bit better as you can see from the service map (PDF file) with not only regular bus routes, but also park and ride services and some specialty routes. The service doesn’t even extend into Canton let alone Brighton, though it does reach into Westland which is right next door to Canton. None of the Park and Rides come close to where I work in Troy. So if I were to even consider trying to ride the bus in to work I’d first have to drive to someplace that has bus service and then change buses several times in making the trip. It’s probably doable, but not in a reasonable amount of time.

Yes, I could move closer to work, but I’d prefer living in Canton as I’ve grown to love the community. Alas that means I’m going to be spending more in gas, but that’s the price you pay for living where you want to live. Part of the reason I’m considering a gas/electric hybrid car in the future is not just because it supposedly gets more mileage, but also because it puts out fewer emissions. If a viable hydrogen fuel cell car were available today I’d be giving it serious thought as well.

13 thoughts on “My route to work.

  1. That is about the distance I have to travel to work every day too.  It’s not always fun having to spend almost 2 hours travelling every day, though I know there are other people that do far longer commutes.  I live in a really rural area, and happen to like it, so it gets kinda annoying when people tell me I should move closer to work. 

    With gas prices going up, it does get harder to justify living out there all the time, but I’m gonna stick to it for at least a little while longer.  However, with real estate (and rent) nearer cities generally being higher, I’m not entirely sure I would be saving money. 

    I’ve considered a hybrid vehicle too, but at the moment I cannot afford a new car.  In any event Les, you’re right, you gotta pay a little extra to live where you want to live.

  2. Oh hell, Rob, most of the route I end up taking has traffic cameras at regular intervals. The freeways here in South Eastern Michigan have had those for ages now. All the local stations are allowed to use them in their newscasts and I believe I read someplace that their’s a Michigan website someplace that carries the live feeds.

    For that matter, a good portion of the suburbs have traffic cameras at every intersection to allow for real-time adjustment of traffic signals. Troy is blanketed with them as is Canton.

  3. Les: Yes, I could move closer to work, but I’d prefer living in Canton as I’ve grown to love the community.

    I know what you mean.
    My last years of work were in Sydney. I’d drive the 120 miles (about 2.5 hours) over there every Monday and return to Bathurst each Friday.
    After a few months of this I recognised I was becoming complacent coz I ‘knew the road’.
    From then on I tried to become aware each time that it WAS a new trip.
    I only ever made one mistake that could have ended in disaster. On the way over one Monday morning at 5, with cruise control set @ 70mph, I hit black ice on the road and did a couple 360s.
    Lucky John. smile

  4. You say that as though I’m not already pestered quite a bit at work. I’m a Systems Administrator. Being pestered at work is my job. wink

  5. I tried to map my route to work using Google maps, but it wouldn’t allow me to set the start point in my bedroom, and the end point in my home office.

    Bad commute this morning, though. I had to step over the dog.  wink

  6. Hi Les,

    Seems you only live about 10 miles from my cousin in Pinkney.  I’ll be visiting him for two weeks starting July 6th.  I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now, and would really like to meet you personally – just to say hello.

    Please let me know if that’s OK with you, and if it is, then when and where.

    Small world, eh?

  7. Yep, we’re not all that far from Pickney at the moment. I’d be happy to catch up with you when you’re in town. Drop me an email and we’ll get together for lunch or something.

  8. OK, I’ll do just that.  Looking forward to it.  BTW, just to stay on topic, my way to work is about 50 feet, since I live exactly next door.  Saves a lot of time and gas.  Go to google maps, enter “Gneisenaustrasse” as the search target, click on the first result (that’s my employer), and you’ll see where I live.

  9. Anyone who wants to see my commute can go to this map, and find a route from the corner of Gentzgasse and Simonygasse (near top, right of center) to the corner of Arnethgasse and Nauseagasse (near bottom, left of center).  As far as I can figure, it’s about two and a half miles- ten minutes with a bike, or with the Schnellbahn, which is pretty direct.

  10. If you have Google Earth, this was my occasional Monday morning commute.

    From: lat=47.3618655364, lon=8.5604493872
    To: lat=49.4220954795, lon=7.75649803957

    I actually took a longer route – cruising on the Autobahn at 100mph took less time than the shorter distance on country roads.

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