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Reverse Commuting

I've never really "reverse commuted", but I know a number of people who do. On one hand, it's a major sign of urban strength and desirability. I think it really says something that there are people who to live it cities, even though it means a commute out into the suburbs. On the other hand, it demonstrates the unfortunate reality that so many white-collar jobs are now located outside of the urban core, even as people flock to it.

(from stevelyon on Flickr)

A lot of people who reverse commute will justify it by saying that reverse commuting is easier than regular commuting. Traffic isn't quite as heavy when you're going against the flow, and I don't doubt that to be true. But it misses the point that commuting would be really easy for the same people if their jobs were also in the city.

I was having a conversation with a friend of the blog recently, and he said the "greenest" commute that a white-collar worker can have is no commute at all - in other words, to telework. Taken to its logical end, his argument is true, but teleworking has issues of its own. After all, if teleworking were so great, why do companies continue renewing their commercial leases?

To me, the "greenest" form of commuting for white-collar workers is for everyone to live close enough to their jobs that they can walk. In any case, the only way this could possibly be accomplished is by designing cities and neighborhoods so that every neighborhood has a mix of uses. We can't turn back the clock on development, and as long as our metros have "places to work" and "places to live" and segregated zoning throughout, there will always be commuters, whichever direction they're going.


B. P. Beckley said…
In any case, the only way this could possibly be accomplished is by designing cities and neighborhoods so that every neighborhood has a mix of uses.

But then you're assuming that if you change jobs, you move, and moving is painful bordering on traumatic for most people. I think the "greenest" arrangement that actually takes that into account is still going to be some variation on the CBD idea -- you want most of the jobs to be in a limited number of geographical areas, so that it's actually practical to build the transportation infrastructure to get everyone there.

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