Austin traffic sucks. There’s no other way to put it. The infrastructure just cannot keep up with the amount of people moving here. This makes traffic congestion horrible. Additionally, Southern drivers suck. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of crappy weather like snow, but there is a distinct difference in driving abilities between Northerners and Southerners. When you get crappy drivers on congested roads that aren’t meant to handle the ever-increasing volume of traffic, it makes for commuting hell. It’s the reason I’ve started looking at the bus as an option for meetups.
When I first moved to Austin, I lived in Round Rock, which is a suburb directly to the north. Even taking the toll road, it was nothing to take 30-60 minutes each way to get to work, not to mention the countless wear and tear from the stop and go traffic. If you threw some sort of accident or someone broken down on the side of the road, traffic would slow even more. There were times it took 1-2 hours to get home.
Well this was my reality for the first 7 months I lived here because when I got my apartment in Round Rock, I was hired as a temporary contractor who didn’t have a clue where I was permanently working. When I was hired on full time, my first instinct was to find the cheapest apartment with the closest commute when my lease expired. I found a place close to work in Austin and lived there a year. Then, upon lease renewal, they wanted another $100 a month. I ended up moving my 4 Focus loads worth of stuff (this includes furniture) across the road to an apartment that was actually cheaper than what I was currently paying.
I trimmed my commute from basically 30-60+ minutes each way to 7-8 minutes. While my commute from Round Rock was typical duration-wise for someone living in Austin, my new commute is completely atypical. It is a fraction of what people normally spend commuting. I don’t even hit the freeways or toll roads and the most stop and go traffic I have is the handful of 4-way stops.
The morning commute itself doesn’t have much traffic and is pretty easy overall. The one thing about the area I live is there are a ton of deer. I thought I got close to a lot of deer while driving in Wisconsin, but I see a ton more deer here.
The afternoon commute has a bit more traffic. It’s obviously the same distance, but there’s a little more waiting at 4-way stops. Like I said drivers suck down here. Some of the waiting at 4-way stops is the fact people don’t know how to navigate 4-way stops. As you can clearly see, I’m stopped. The guy directly across from me is not stopped. He thinks he has the right away and turns left right in front of me. This kind of stuff is an everyday occurrence and is obviously multiplied the longer your commute is. To make matters worse, people don’t know which lane they need to turn in. This guy decides the left turn and straight lane is the right turn lane. As you can see, I can’t drive 8 minutes without seeing the absolute stupidity of drivers down here. It’s nice only having to deal with this for a few minutes each day versus an hour or two. I am tempted to start walking the 2.8 miles to work but the 100 degree temps everyday wouldn’t make it too pleasant. I’ve also debated biking, but as you can see by the commute home video, the hill is pretty nasty. I see some of the more “professional” riders being challenged on their way up the hill. I would take the bus, but it doesn’t run within at least a mile of work so that defeats the purpose, especially considering there are no sidewalks between where it would let me off and work. I guess I’ll figure something out. At least when I drive, it’s a pretty decent commute compared to what most people have to deal with in Austin.