The Marc Steiner Show

06/26/07 1pm Commuting


How much time do you spend getting to and from work every day?  What else would you like to be doing with that time, however much it may be?

Our show this hour will be focused on commuting, so if you need to vent, now’s your chance.  Seems like commuting is something about which just about everyone has something to say, whether it be bragging about only having to walk two blocks to work or bragging about suffering through a two hour drive on congested highways.  We hope you’ll share your stories with us, both here and on the air.

A lot has been written about commuting.  Here’s a great article from The New Yorker a few issues back, There and Back Again: The Soul of the Commuter, by Nick Paumgarten.  It uses commuting as a medium for looking at some fundamental questions about our ability as humans to decide what is best for ourselves and what we do with our time.


Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday thru Friday from 10AM to Noon on WEAA 88.9 FM. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Call us at 410.319.8888 or email us to participate live in the show, or share your comments on our site! Aren’t in Baltimore but want to listen? Stream the show live.


  1. I called in towards the end of the show and I think I must have sounded like a total spazz…there were so many other things I wanted to say, but I didn’t want to ramble any more than I already did on-air. Topics I didn’t mention:

    -“Commuter culture” extends beyond the work schedule and into our home lives. The days of the downtown department store are long gone; in fact, I was actually calling from the parking lot of the Pikesville Target, because anyone who lives in the city has to drive out to the ‘burbs if he or she wants to shop at a Target, a JC Penney, a PetsMart or a Home Depot. Tough luck if you don’t have a car (especially in Baltimore)! I would love if we still had big-name department stores downtown! The fact is, no one in the newer suburbs lives within walking distance of anything. You’ve got to drive. And I think that’s odd.

    -To elaborate on my comment on the show: during rush hour on the DC Metro, you can just walk into the station and be pretty sure that if you just missed a train, another one will be along in 3 minutes. Not so on the MTA Metro subway, the light rail, the MARC, and many of the bus routes. I am really trying to make the conscious choice to take public transportation despite the fact that I have a car, but it’s much more difficult when you have to plan around a very inflexible (and sometimes unreliable) window of time. I live only 15 minutes from my college by car, but to get there using public transportation, it can take 30 – 45 minutes. Most days I am willing to spend the extra time to save gas and have one fewer car clogging up 83 southbound, but sometimes I’m late and I’m forced to take the car.

    -Melody Simmons made the comment (I think) along the lines that cyclists aren’t sensible when it comes to city biking/bike commuting. I agree; it seems like a lot of folks are flying blind. It’s difficult to know where to start, but Paul Dorn’s Bike Commuting Tips ( is an excellent online resource for people who want to try commuting by bike. I’ve also heard wonderful things about Velocipede, Baltimore’s own local bike co-op.

  2. The caller (Lucien?) talked about the low-cost of adding bike lanes compared to adding transit (although he misspoke when saying we only need 2 feet). Melody said, “I’d like to say ‘God Bless’ to the bicycle riders, but please stay in that two feet because I’ve seen in the commute and in the gridlock actually, bicyclers in the lane of traffic and going along at a good clip slowing down at the red light, going through the intersection, and this has caused a lot of friction between the drivers and the bicyclists. I understand what the caller is saying but there’s a lot of controversy about that method.”

    As a frequent bicycle commuter, I’d like to make two points.

    First, while bicyclists are supposed to ride as near to the right of the roadway as “practicable and safe,” we are allowed to operate in the middle of the lane if we determine that is safest. Frequently the pavement condition, debris in the road, the presence of parked cars, and other factors make it unsafe to ride in the “two feet” that Ms. Simmons felt we should be allowed to use. I’ve listed the text of the law below for further reference. While there may be some “controversy” about bicyclists taking a lane of the road, it is usually legal and sometimes the safest option. Until there are better provisions for bicyclists on most roadways, they should be encouraged to take the lane when they deem it appropriate.

    Second, Ms. Simmons referenced bicyclists who slow down or come to a stop at a light, but then proceed through when the determine that it is safe. While I can see that this might frustrate some auto drivers, since they can’t get away with this, it is perfectly safe the way that she described it. Bicyclists crossing against the light recognize that we’re always more vulnerable than auto users and we tend to behave accordingly, making sure it’s clear before we cross. There will always be some idiots who ride through without looking, but I think it’s appropriate for bicyclists to cautiously proceed through red lights and stop signs after a rolling stop. In fact, the state of Idaho saw fit to change the law to reflect this and I would hope other states will follow suit.

    § 21-1205. Riding on roadways or on highway.

    (a) Riding to right side of roadway.- Each person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter at a speed less than the speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing on a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable and safe, except when:
    (1) Making or attempting to make a left turn;
    (2) Operating on a one-way street;
    (3) Passing a stopped or slower moving vehicle;
    (4) Avoiding pedestrians or road hazards;
    (5) The right lane is a right turn only lane; or
    (6) Operating in a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle or motor scooter
    and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
    (b) Riding two abreast.- Each person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter on a roadway may ride two abreast only if the flow of traffic is unimpeded.
    (c) Passing.- Each person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter on a roadway shall exercise due care when passing a vehicle.
    (d) Walking bicycles on right side of highway.- Each person operating a bicycle or a motor scooter on a roadway may walk the bicycle or motor scooter on the right side of a highway if there is no sidewalk.

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