How do you get to work?

“More than ever, Americans are getting to work by driving alone,” writes NPR’s Shiva Koohi.

As the graph above shows, the share of Americans driving to work rose sharply in the second half of the 20th century, as the nation became more suburban. The rate has been flat for the past few decades — but during that time the percentage of people who carpool fell (even as carpool lanes proliferated).

Today’s Question: How do you get to work?

  • Gary F

    Private car. Couldn’t do my job in sales by biking or taking transit.

    As Chevrolet used to say years ago…..

    “It’s not just your car, its your freedom:.

  • Paulj

    I live in the country where you either walk to the barn or drive a long way to what ever town is hiring.

  • Jim

    Many people work in multiple locations or irregular hours or multiple jobs. Private car only reasonable way.

  • sb

    Most days (80-90%) by bicycle. Sometimes I drive if I have to go to meetings during the day that are far afield. I’m definitely happier on the days I ride. I’ve been riding year round to school or work since 2002.

    • JQP

      admirable = year round riding. I’m still trying to get “happy” with clothing and equipment and route for winter.

  • Todd

    I drive from one suburb to another. There are no trains or buses that would replicate my path. Why are we continuing to spend billions of dollars on carpool lanes and trains when the trend is that people are using them less and less? Out of touch politicians and lobbyists trying to change and control people’s behaviors?

    • JQP

      in terms of public expense: roads are expensive to build, own, maintain, replace. bridges more so.

      in terms of personal expense : cars are expensive and fewer full time incomes can provide them.

      as for dynamics affecting public transportation usage – there are several factors. There are several companies that would love to sell off their parking lots/ramps for development and pocket the income while letting their employees “transit to work”.

  • david

    I still drive more often then not, but bought a new bike this year and ride it when I can. Still not hardcore enough to do it on days like today when they are predicting thunderstorms.

  • Matt

    I get to work by driving alone… because my employer moved a few thousand people from an urban office within a short bike ride of my house to a suburban office building at the corner of two clogged freeways. All because they didn’t have enough “free” parking at the existing campus. They never anticipated the level of attrition they’re seeing. I won’t be around much longer. People don’t want free parking and a long expensive commute. They want to pay for their decisions and enjoy a short commute. I miss biking to work.

  • JQP

    bike to work and meetings at other sites during the summer months. bike and bus in the shoulder season. drive a car on occasion during those periods. buss and drive in winter with occasional bike – including to other sites for meetings.

    Last year 5800 miles on car – including trips getting daughter to college in Iowa and follow up visits.

    rode bike today – fingers crossed – rain gear ready.

  • I used to mostly drive alone, roughly 25 miles round-trip. The recent gas price shocks motivated me to start biking to work more, which is only 21 miles round-trip. Over the past month, I biked 13 out of 20 days worked and managed to total only 315 miles of driving. That’s about 1/3 of what I used to average per month. Hope to keep it going as long as the weather cooperates.

  • apples321

    I’ve given up my car this year. It wasn’t my choice initially, but when presented with the opportunity (my car was totaled), I took it. I either bike or take the bus to work now. It’s sort of great! I didn’t realize how stressful driving was until I stopped doing it regularly. Also, I’ve saved a ton of money on car insurance and gas over the past few months. Yes, it can take a while to get places by bus, but I’ve found the change to be quite worthwhile.

  • Brent Berheim

    Drive my car approximately 1 mile to park next to an Express Bus line.

  • Mary

    I work at home.

  • Hōkan

    I drive my bike to work every day. I moved close (3 miles) to work a few years ago and was able to rid myself of the expense of maintaining a car. For me biking is much cheaper (and I have nice bikes!) almost always faster.

  • Jim G

    I’m retired living in a suburb. On all my errands I’m dependent on my truck. My wife commutes 10 miles by car to her job in another suburb further from the cities. She tried commuting by bike on a bike trail, but the hot afternoons with temperatures in the 90’s was too much of a hurdle for her after a day’s work. Looking to the future, if the southwest light-rail corridor ever gets built we’re within walking distance of the terminal station.

    • Todd

      But that won’t go to a further suburb during morning commute times.

      • Jim G

        Yes, but she’ll probably be retired by the time it is completed. But she’s not married to her job like I was. If it’s done earlier she’ll drop her 10 mile commute rule when looking for jobs. She loved jumping on a commuter bus at the southwest station when she served on jury duty. It was a breeze and dropped her right in front of the court building. Plus, I’ll be able to catch the light-rail to Costco and the Mall and maybe we’ll even go to Twin’s game. I’ll be an “old coot” by then and traffic will be twice as bad as it is currently. Oops! Got to make dinner. She’s driving in the garage!

  • Carlos Danger


  • lindblomeagles

    I drive to work alone, but I wish I didn’t for 2 reasons – my family could save more money if we carpooled, and I could spend my mornings with people who want to share our lives together. The best environmental way of traveling is my light rail and bus. The problem with busing is too many lines give rides to riders that don’t care about the bus. Light rail is just fabulous. The even bigger problem for me is my wife, in particular, grew up in American culture and therefore, wants an American lifestyle; i.e. every one has their own car, and they look cool in their own car. She refuses to here how two car payments, umpteen people on an insurance policy, and several separate gas bills keeps us just making ends meet, or stops us from having summer vacations and cabins. Even if you pay one of the cars off, you still have to put aside $1,000 for repairs.

  • scott44

    I drive my Jeep 46 mile round trip. I live in the country and I think the gas prices are high but still cheap enough to make it worth my while of the piece of living alone in the woods.

  • Nature Love

    I don’t work, but travel around mostly by car due to health issues. I do bike at least once a week and would like to up this to every day but have to wait for health improvements. A few years back I rode during the Winter, and enjoyed it very much and believe it is a viable option for most people. I drive less than 5,000 miles/year but drive a lot for my elder father which allows me to piggyback errands with his car. I suspect I’ll be well under 4,000 miles this year.

    It saddens me that the bear researcher issue garners nearly 600 comments, but this mainstream issue just 24. This is where our future lies if we are going to stop destroying nature. The only hope I see for change is to tax gasoline. The Car Talk Brothers suggested starting at $.25 and adding an additional $.25 each year. I mention that because they play on MPR and are generally accepted as middle of the road practical people who make their living on cars but still endorse a national gas tax. People won’t change except out of financial duress.

    We have embraced a growth mantra, but don’t seem to take into account that most growth comes at great and often undisclosed cost to nature. Ours is a closed system, for every additional human we force feed on nature, there is a concomitant loss of organisms ancient and diverse. There is virtually no human we don’t put above any natural being in any circumstances nor any limits to growth of any population irrespective of available resources. And, for all this we believe we are morally superior. I can only look to the history of doctors endorsing cigarette smoking and a nation that sits back and accepts this to find a cultural antecedent as irresponsible.

  • Kerri Miller re-reads “Jane Eyre.” I re-read “Pride and Prejudice.”

    They are both masterpieces, but I am kind of embarrassed that they are such cliches of things women re-read.

    Maddy, tell me you re-read something more interesting.

  • Because I am an insufferable nerd, I re-read The Odyssey. Crazy gods! Weird myths! Epics! I love it.

    • Nice choice. My children would agree with you. They read a kid version of it. The 5 yo likes it when Odysseus tricks Polyphemus by claiming to be named Nobody.

  • I recently read ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ again. It was one of my favorites when I was younger, but it feels like a totally different book to read as an adult. It was one of my my mom’s favorites as a kid too!

    • I re-read it because my book club chose it. I agree that it felt completely difference. I spent much less time hoping that she would find love and more time hoping she would get the heck out of her neighborhood.
      Definitely worth a re-read.

  • Heidi in Golden Valley

    I confess that I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter books every year. I’ve been doing this with the Tolkien for almost 40 years, but I still love it!

    • Confession? No confession needed! I think those are great re-reading nominees.

    • Scott Brazil

      Heidi…I finally read the Harry Potter series as a 40 year old and loved it. In fact, there was a lot in it I would not have appreciated had I read it earlier, and I am sure I will read the series again in the future!!

  • Euan Kerr

    After seeing the film adaptation last eyar I picked up “On the Road” for the second or third time. It must have been 30 years since I read it the first time and I was struck by how dated it seemed. Also a couple of years back I re-read “Zen and the Art of Mortorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirzig which I first struggled through in high school. Having now lived in Minnesota for almost three decades many of the references make more sense to me, and (a little more of) the philosophy

  • Doug Duwenhoegger

    As crazy as it sounds the book I have reread twice and will read again is Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. It is simply my favorite book. The book I have reread the most times is actually Dream Park by Larry Niven. It was a book I read at the cabin when I was young and reread it almost every summer up a the cabin. It’s a great Sci-fi book about a futuristic theme park.

    • That does sound crazy!

      Did you read the wonderful biography of David Foster Wallace that came out last year? It was heartbreaking but insightful.

      • I just went to Amazon to read a description of Dream Park. That looks good. I am getting it from the library.

        • Doug Duwenhoegger

          Dream Park technology might seem a tad dated considering it was written in the early 80’s but it had a good mix of detective novel and adventure. I haven’t read the DFW bio yet, not sure I’m ready.

  • Meggan Ellingboe, MPR

    This is totally predictable, but my book club picked a re-read of The Great Gatsby this past year. I remember being so focused on finding symbolism for the high school English paper rather than really appreciating the Fitzgerald’s theme and his sentence structure. This time around, I didn’t put much more thought into the green light than I had to. Now if only we could all find our old PCs or floppy disk on which we saved those papers…. Now that would be a laugh.

    • I think I would die of embarrassment if I had to read old term papers. I feel my face turning red now.

  • I’m the only person I remember from my high school who actually enjoyed reading “Silas Marner.” I’d be curious to re-read it to see if I still like it, or was that some odd way of rebelling back then?

  • Tony Yarusso

    Huck Finn is often read in childhood but has extra layers for adults to appreciate. I also read and enjoyed The Scarlet Letter before being assigned to read and analyze it to death in school, so that could be good to re-read. I’d also definitely suggest “The Jungle”, by Upton Sinclair – just not around meal times.

  • yaya

    Catch22, funny and so right on after all these yrs

  • Matt Kearns

    “Travels with Charlie,” a great road book to start the summers with.

  • Lora

    I have to go with Charles Dickens, “David Copperfield.” I read it in 10th grade and was so taken by the language. My teacher had bright red hair and was so animated when she read the lines in “British English”. Now re-reading it I see all the social implications of the times and what a real master Dickens was. I also read Shakespeare over and over… I am from Winona, Great River Shakespeare Festival and all. 🙂 We are doing Hamlet and Merry Wives of Windsor this season. LOVE it!

  • Kryssy Pease, MPR News

    I owe it to my junior year English teacher Terry McGinn to re-read King Lear. I hated that play and rolled my eyes as he mouthed along to the tapes he played in class (Shakespeare is meant to be performed, after all, not read). But we also read Heart of Darkness in that class, which quickly became one of my favorite books,

  • Lucy

    I have reread all the books/plays I was assigned in my jr yr honors English class several times since then: Hamlet, Great Gatsby, Scarlet Letter, Streetcar named Desire. My English teacher Mr Kuzma was the best at helping us understand each story’s significance and contribution to literature. To kill a mockingbird, The things they carried and Staggerford are others from HS that I have reread & would recommend others check out.

  • Amanda C

    I used to be a chronic re-reader, so 6 years ago I started a new year’s resolution that I would read 26 new (to me) books every year. It helped me gather great recommendations from friends and family, and it’s been the only resolution I’ve reliably kept. However, it helped me remember which books I really loved to re-read, so each year when I’m done with my New 26, I reward myself with a re-read of “The Great Gatsby.’ I really think it’s the Great American Novel in so many ways, and being able to immerse myself in Fitzgerald’s use of language is always a fantastic reward.

  • Jean

    I love re-reading books that make me laugh. Extra points for those stories based on reality. A few favorites that come to mind are”Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim,” ‘Bossyants” and “A Walk in the Woods.”

    • Jean


  • Nancee

    The two book I keep thinking about re-reading are “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles and “The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner” by Alan Sillitoe. I don’t really remember much about them, just that they both took place in (as I recall) boarding schools in the east. I recently read “The Secret HIstory” by Donna Tartt, which is set in a small college in the east. I just keep thinking that all 3 centered around a group of misfits that came together for what ever reason.

  • bob hicks

    Moby Dick. Such a huge, dense, dark tome. If re-reading it doesn’t kill you, it will make you feel like you have accomplished a mighty feat.

  • Louis

    Hey, what about non-fiction. For me its “Hero with a Thousand Faces” Joseph Campbell. “It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse.”

  • Barry Scanlan

    Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut confronts the experience of bearing witness to apocalypse, the Allied firebombing of Dresden which killed upwards of 175,000 civilians. I was a Marine in 1972 when I read this book — it changed my view of war and nationalism.
    A second more recent book — The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I could read and reread this book a dozen times.

  • Jill

    How can anyone think that “Farewell to Arms” doesn’t have something relevant to say to us today?

  • Grey

    I recently re-read Cortazar’s Rayuela while on vacation in Paris. Fifty years after its publication I can still imagine Horacio and La Maga wandering around the Latin Quarter. When I first read the novel as an adolescent, I thought that Horacio, the protagonist, was the epitome of bohemian cool. Upon re-reading the book I realized what a pathetically selfish jerk he was. Very funny novel still worth a read.

  • LJ

    A Gesture Life by Chang Rae-Lee is a modern day classic — beautiful writing, universal story about love, memory, and what it means to belong. Love this writer and this book (and he’ll be in town on Thursday!).

  • Scott Brazil

    True confession: most of these books the rest of you would be rereading would probably be first-time reads for me. I was a slacker in high school…

  • Dan

    You guys are so ponderous! Where’s the humor? Canterbury Tales, Candide, Tom Jones, Gulliver’s Travels, Huckleberry Finn, Gravity’s Rainbow. It can be fun.

  • Dan

    Catch 22

  • Lucy

    There were a lot of books others in HS were assigned to read that mine didn’t assign: catcher in the rye, 1984, any Jane Austen. Seek these out on my own to read as an adult. Glad I did because I don’t think I would’ve understood or enjoyed them as a 17 yr old.

    • What did your high school assign?

      • Lucy

        Shakespeare plays, To kill a mocking bird (loved it!) Their eyes were watching God, Sula, Bradbury short stories (but not Fahrenheit 451!) But no Hemingway, Austen, Dickens, etc.

  • Jerome Manley

    Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a book I continually find myself returning too. It has enough science fiction, existentialism, and human nature that I believe still translates to current day. Madame Bovary, was a definite hard read for me back in the day, don’t think I ever finished it. Currently rereading Moby Dick and am amazed at Melville’s lexicon.

  • N Brown

    Ayn Rand’s Anthem Left Me Scratching My Head The First Go Round. I Just Read It A Month Ago And Was Dumbfounded By What I Left Between Those Pages Before.

  • Rocky

    Trade 1984 and Animal farm in for Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London.
    He captures the crushing weight of working and poverty behind the scenes in those sparkling capitols of culture. Haven’t re-read it in years, time to again.

  • Vicky

    Candide and War and Peace are waiting on my Nook for me to re-read. I loved both in college (in the late 60’s). I re-read East of Eden recently and was amazed by all the details I missed the first time.In particular, I really enjoyed how John Steinbeck included his family in the story.

  • Robin

    I just finished The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham.. It was first read (alas, my HS didn’t value reading much) and it was exactly the right book at the right time…I would not have appreciated the themes or characters at that age.

  • AndyBriebart

    Geez, no 1984, no Animal Farm? I guess the reality of what is happening these days would scare people reading those books.

  • An Observer

    I tried to get on the phone to talk yesterday, but after 10 minutes waiting, realized I had better things to do than talk. So my recommendations: Middlemarch, by George Eliot, despite the comments of the “Practical Classics” author–it’s one of the really grown-up books of the nineteenth century. And second, a book that I read as a college senior that demanded the most intellectual acuteness of any book I’ve ever read, George Meredith’s The Egoist. I found it one of the first “feminist” books, breaking social class barriers in a variety of ways. And its humor is astonishing. It’s one of those books you wonder if you’re still sharp enough to appreciate.