Let's imagine. Let's pretend today was unexceptional.
This morning I walked out of my front door and next door to my bus stop. I boarded the bus and took out my book and read as bus lumbered along. At Sacramento State, I got off the bus and after a short wait boarded a bus headed downtown to the Amtrak station. Again I read my book, immersed in a tale of Sherman's march through Georgia.
The bus arrived at the Amtrak station on time, and I walked to the train platform. The Amtrak train soon rolled into the station, its horn blaring and bells clanging, the ground rumbling with the throbbing of the massive engine. I boarded a car and found an empty table and sat down. I got out my laptop and plugged it into the power outlet and got down to work. At one point I got up and walked to the dining car, where I bought a cup of coffee and a discounted $10 BART pass for a total of $9.50.
At Oakland's Jack London Square I got off the Amtrak train and walked to Webster Street and headed downtown. Once I crossed under Interstate 880 I was in Chinatown. This is my favorite part of my morning commute. Oakland's Chinatown isn't as touristy as San Francisco's. It's more like a real community. This morning, like every morning, I stopped at one of the street-side fresh produce stands and purchased fruit for lunch and for the trip home. I then walked to a coffee shop that prides itself on being owned and operated by Oakland residents who are doing all things good for the planet. I purchased a French-press cup of coffee and walked next door to my office.
At noon, two of my co-workers and I walked across the street to a nearby outdoor mall and had lunch. When we finished we walked back to the office.
Later in the afternoon, my boss spoke at the Sustainable Communities conference at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco. I took BART from my office to the Powell Street station and then walked up the hill three blocks to the hotel.
One point from my boss's speech stuck out for me. If we just met the existing demand for walkable communities joined by effective transit systems, she told the gathering, we could reach our goals to reduce our reliance on oil and lower our impact on global warming.
On the BART ride back to the office I rolled that idea over in my head: Just listening to what many people are already saying they want and making it possible for builders and local governments to meet those needs would have transformational effects.
It's not hard to imagine. How nice it would be if everyday could be as carless and carefree.