I have been in the USA for exactly three months. (WOW) In this time, I have landed a job. (HOORAY) However, I still refuse to buy a car. I can already hear the protests that others have valiantly tried to argue…and I will tell you what I told them. At the moment I do not need a car. When I need a car, I will buy one, but not a moment sooner.
…But how do I get to work??
Calm down Americans. haha. I know it’s extremely rare for Americans (outside of cities with superb subways) to go to work without a car. Well, I unfortunately don’t live in a city with a superb subway system. There is a train system here, but it’s miles away from where I live and work. On the plus side, my city has a pretty good bus system, but it’s not that convenient for me and it’s a bit too expensive to be worth it.
I live about 3 miles away from my job. While this is not impossibly far to walk, I have decided to actually bike to and from work. Yes, on a BICYCLE. I do have to bike across an overpass of a major highway, but luckily the overpass is not too busy (although it is under construction which has made it a tad dangerous some days). The ride takes only 15-20 minutes. I leave early enough to change into my work clothes in the bathroom and wash my face before my shift begins. It’s a great way to get some exercise and a whole lot cheaper than public transportation (or my own car!).
If I were in Korea, this post would be kind of ridiculous. In Korea, especially in the second small city I lived in (Sangju 상주), I saw a lot of bicycles. Of course, Sangju is famous for bicycles. Regardless, I would say that at least 70% of the children bike to school. Parents and grandparents bike around town for work, errands, and shopping. On Seoul’s (서울) subways on weekends, I would see a plethora of cyclists (for exercise) before and after their routes. In Gumi (구미), I didn’t see as many bicyclists, but I still saw far more than I have seen here. Overall, whether for leisure or exercise, Korea has a lot more cyclists on the streets.
I can tell that I shock coworkers and students when they see my bike helmet in hand and realize that my bicycle is my mode of transportation. (To date, I have only seen three other bicycles at the school.) If I were in Korea, students and coworkers would not be nearly as shocked. So, in terms if biking, it is a bit of reverse culture shock and I miss seeing cyclists and not feeling like a weirdo on a bike. While I know that many Americans commute too far to merit using a bicycle or walking to work, I know that a great many could if they wanted to–some do but many don’t.
(By the way, I don’t have a fancy bike. It’s some mountain bike that I bought for around $100.)