Adventures in Commuting

By Lupe Fisch

Working at The Downtown School turned out to be a great opportunity to explore a car-less commute from Kenmore. Apart from a brisk, 30-minute walk from the heart of downtown, I discovered two other options to get to school.

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The first was an adventure: a LimeBike! I downloaded the app, entered my info and watched the tutorial videos. It was a little scary to fumble with a new process out in the open, where everybody could see me mess it up; but I ask my students to step out of their comfort zone as they learn to communicate in a language they don’t already master. What’s good for the goose... Dusty helmet in tow, I found a bike on 2nd Avenue, next to the great bike lane the city built there. The bike lane is separated by a curb and a row of parked cars, and it has dedicated traffic signals to keep cars from turning into moving bicycles. As an infrequent rider unfamiliar with biking on busy city streets, I found that reassuring. After a few awkward minutes, I figured out how to lower the seat and off I went! It was a gentle, mostly flat ride; and 10 minutes later I arrived at my destination.

Another option was to walk a block and hop on that iconic Seattle transport: the Monorail. And riding the Monorail with a commuter’s sense of purpose was a treat! I zipped smoothly over traffic, looking down each street we passed at tree level, seeing the city I’m so familiar with from a different vantage. If only the ride lasted longer! It is a little pricey and the Orca card doesn’t work there, but I loved it: diving headlong into the bulbous curves of Frank Gehry’s MoPop building and being deposited in the heart of the Seattle Center. I’m thinking of it as my treat transport, taking it once or twice a week. School is two blocks away, and even early in the morning the Seattle Center is full of activity.

I’ve had to drive a few days this month and I missed my commuting time, particularly the 45 minutes of reading on the bus and the adventure of the last leg. With this new journey, I’m walking more, I start and end my days more mindfully, and I feel more grounded and connected to place. I’m looking forward to putting less mileage on my car and more steps on my pedometer. I’d love to hear about our students’ adventures in commuting when they start coming to school.