A generation ago, Robert Putnam famously claimed Americans were “bowling alone,” slowly withdrawing from in-person socializing. At least in Seattle, people are increasingly not “bowling alone” when it comes to their commute. As of 2017, almost half of Seattle is commuting by public transit and an additional ten percent in ride shares.  Even those who choose biking and walking are more likely to have social interactions than someone behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Now, only 25 percent of Seattle commuters drive alone to work. This is a 5% decrease since the previous year and the largest decrease since Commute Seattle began collecting data in 2010.

Maybe the embrace of large cities and condo or apartment living by millennials is getting young people especially to choose more sociable means of transportation. But as a middle-aged person who does not fit this demographic, I also enjoy public transportation. I start my day by reading my phone, a journal, or a book on a public bus to the office.

Here’s how to join this movement towards greener travel alternatives:

Public transportation

In Seattle, we fortunately have a plethora of public transportation options with Sound Transit and King County Metro. To find a route to your work via public transportation, we recommend using Google Maps. If at first glance, it seems long or inconvenient, don’t stop there. Check to see where the closest park and ride is to your home with a direct route to your work. For example, if you live in the residential, low bus service areas of Woodinville or Redmond and commute to Seattle, try busing from one of the many Redmond Park & Rides. Even if your ride isn’t entirely on public transportation, you’ll still be reducing the emissions from your commute. Not to mention, you no longer will have to worry about parking!


In some cases, biking may actually take just as long as public transportation or driving and finding parking since you can speed on past bumper to bumper traffic. If it seems too far to bike, consider both biking and busing. King County Metro and Sound Transit provide bike racks on the front of their buses to make the combination easy!

Buying a bike sound like too much of commitment? Download the Lime app to unlock the lime green bikes around town with your smartphone! Using our link to download the app will give you a $3 credit to try it out.

If you do decide to buy a bike, don’t forget to shop used and local. Try one of these shops: Recycled Cycles or 20/20 Cycle. Or test your luck on your local Buy Nothing group.

Walking or running

For those who don’t live so far from their place of work, consider running or biking. Worried about showing up to the office sweaty? Consider walking or running just on your commute back home. If you do want to walk or run on your way to work, ask your employer if there are showers, lockers or a gym your office building has access to.

Ride sharing

If none of the above options are viable for your commute, talk to your coworkers or friends who live nearby about carpooling. It’ll save both of you money and time since you’ll be able to use the carpool lane all while reducing emissions per person in the commute.

Consider signing up for Waze Carpool as a way to earn money from carpooling with other users.

Another way to discover people to carpool with and earn gas money as a driver: join Scoop, a carpooling service which connects you with people who have a similar commute to you. Use our link for 2 free ride credits.

Other carpooling options: Lyft Line and Uber Pool. Use our links for $5 off your first ride as a new user.

Photos by Summer Hanson and Roya Hegdahl
© Emeraldology 2018