Baby Steps Toward A Simpler Life

The goal is to walk more and be less car centric and dependent. To truly enjoy the urban experience is too become independent of the suburban strip mall, parking lot, drive thru ways.

I have been making baby steps one by one that is getting closer and closer to my goal of having 1 car payment, eventually one car and a much lower petrol bill. I believe this goal is possible while living in St. Louis.

I started by purchasing a 49cc scooter. It was my first foray into 2 wheeled motorized vehicles, so it was a good learning experience. I rode this thing all over the city running errands and occasionally, to and from my job in Chesterfield which was a long ride.

Word starting getting out that some suburban municipality's police started hassling 49cc scooters by pulling them over and in some casing issuing tickets. Crestwood and Chesterfield were mentioned as having local laws that overreach the states rules on 49cc scooters. Mainly, if you ride a 49cc scooter, it does not need to be licensed, insured, nor do you need a helmet (by law). Now, I'd never ride without a helmet, but the idea of having a scooter as economical transit was highly appealing. The hassle of registering, inspecting, insuring a scooter just didn't make sense to me at the time. However, when hearing the the police were going to make it their business to pull over scooters, I thought I had better consider my options.
I decided to play by the rules. But if I am going to go the extra mile by registering/insuring a scooter, it will be a bigger one that goes 40 mph up a steep hill. I bought a used 125cc Yamaha Vino from a gentleman in Clayton. So now I'm legal in the suburbs and the city! The Yamaha get ~65 mpg on the gas, so it's very economical, and a blast to ride. It can ride 2 people and it has been very low maintenance.

However, the scooter does not work for year-round transportation for me. I don't enjoy riding in the winter months. It's dangerous and very, very cold. That being said, I now have the perfect, highly efficient, fun transit option for short trips and to/from work from mid spring through mid autumn.

Next step was to consider my career options closer to the city. I really like the company I work for, so a transfer from the exurbs to the suburbs was an option that I closely considered. I was lucky enough to make a job change the got me much closer to the city.

My new commute allowed me to shave off 24.48 miles per day! That is a big step for me. Another peripheral benefit is that Metro options opened up greatly. It's virtually impossible to get from St. Louis to Chesterfield using Metro. However, Olivette/Creve Coeur is much more Metro-friendly.

My progressive company has agreed to run a free shuttle bus service from the Clayton Metrolink stop to the company campus during the I-64 shut down. They also pay for a monthly Metro pass. This was an offer I couldn't refuse.

I was now able to trim my car commute down to 10 miles per day. That's another big decrease! Thanks company, thanks Metro! I now drive from the hacienda to the Shrewsbury stop. An 11 minute ride on the train to the Clayton stop, then a shuttle from the Clayton stop to the front door of my work place. Awesome! Relaxing, safer, more economical, responsible, etc. I am in hog's heaven. It only adds 12 minutes (on average) to my commute time when I was driving.

The next step is reducing petrol is warmer weather when I can ride the Vino to and from the Metro stop.

I plan to do a post on my Metro experiences shortly. All things considered, I think it's easy to get caught in the oil rut and routine. Feeling trapped by the convenience of your personal auto can be overwhelming. It took me some risk taking and stepping out of my comfort zone to reach out to job changes, public transportation, and scooters as option to a long ass commute. The end result (wife verifies) is a much more stress free life. Getting to and from work is becoming fun and one of the most relaxing parts of my day.