ord sunshine pumpers

life in rural nebraska

World’s Worst Commute?

with 3 comments

Quaker State’s new World’s Worst Commute videos had my brother (who lives in Alma, NE) and myself chuckling to ourselves – 2 hours one way just to work a crappy job?  No thank you.

Turns out, commuting is something Americans seem to do more than about anyone else, and our time in traffic only increases every year – to the tune of 38 hours a year. For an nation that continues to move more toward the creative economy, time in front of a dash board is deleterious to our capacity to grow a 21st Century economic machine.  Less time to think means less opportunity for innovation.  Commuting also has the obvious negative affects on health, family and psychology.

Commuting also negatively impacts community engagement – the more time you spend in a car the less engaged you are in your community.  Planetizen, a community planning and economic development organization, shares an interesting report on this effect:

First, there seems to be a correlation between high commute time and decreased volunteering. The study also points out that long commutes to work can drive down an area’s volunteering rate not only by limiting the time an individual has available for volunteering, but also by decreasing the time people have to interact with others at their workplace, house of worship, club, or other social network.

We enjoy our 3 minute commutes here in Ord regularly; if you’re living outside the community on a parcel of land 20 miles can be counted in 20 minutes.  When you factor in how far you can stretch a dollar in rural Nebraska, you can understand why more and more folks like myself and my brother are opting for more peaceful surroundings with short commutes.

For me however, the real impact can be measured in time spent with family and friends.  I moved to Ord from a situation where I spent 104 minutes a day driving between office and home.  When my wife and  made the jump to Valley County, we counted our increased time together at 98 minutes a day.  Something the Toronto Star points out – “We haven’t had a normal dinner for a long time,” she says. “Usually it’s takeout, it’s pizza or it’s grabbing a sandwich somewhere.  It’s like I spend all my time at work and on the road.”

Who says rural communities don’t offer anything of value?


Written by Caleb

April 27, 2009 at 2:47 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Have you ever read the 2007 Washington Post Magazine story on ultra-long commutes? It’s a fascinating look at what those drives do to the family and the psyche.


    Mark Coddington

    April 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm

  2. Great insight Mark. After living that nightmare between Lincoln and Omaha (tame by most standards), I definitely saw the negative impact on my kids. Sleep deprivation and the general rush-rush-rush was part and parcel of that experience.

    Just this morning I was up bright and early with my 2-year old, enjoying a full breakfast and Sesame Street.


    April 28, 2009 at 2:13 pm

  3. […] had a reminder this past weekend of what we left when I was stuck in traffic in West Omaha.  20 minutes just to go 12 blocks.  I beat that this morning with my feet.  They […]

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