The Six-Minute Choice

Traffic on Missionary Ridge

-By Bridgett Massengill, Thrive 2055 Project Manager

Today I made a choice. Each weekday I commute to work from the rural outskirts of northeastern Hamilton County into downtown Chattanooga. I wrestle stampeding 18-wheelers and congestion through the I-75/I-24 split and the Missionary Ridge cut. Traveling by interstate, it can take me between a half to a full hour to get to work or get home to my husband and children, depending on traffic.

But today I took a different route. I took the side roads, the back roads, the city streets. I meandered through neighborhoods, by churches and playgrounds. At the time, my choice seemed risky, a secret, selfish move that would keep me from the task list on my desk. But like a child sneaking a cookie, I relished every moment of those side roads and arrived to work refreshed.

When I looked at my watch I discovered that my choice had cost me six minutes. Six minutes.


The six minute choice.

Were those six minutes valuable to me? Not as valuable as my state of mind, shed of the stressing traffic on the interstate. The office didn’t fall apart. And truthfully, I can make this choice any time, simply by leaving the house six minutes earlier.

Can you choose your route to work? Can you take an extra three, six or 10 minutes to reduce your blood pressure and get reacquainted with our region’s rural and urban landscapes? As one who has made that choice, I highly recommend giving the side roads a try.

Thrive 2055 is all about choices. By looking ahead 40 years, we can work together to ensure our children and grandchildren can choose their routes, receive a good education, work in jobs that adequately support and enrich them and have the quality of life they deserve.

So, what choices can you make?
If you venture out and take a side road route on your commute, tell us about it!

HOW? Choices for Commuters:google_nav
There are tons of free and low cost smartphone apps that can help you avoid traffic and make your commute less stressful. Here are our picks.
• Bridgett used a free smartphone app called WAZE. It uses GPS tracking and crowd sourced reports to find traffic jams and help you avoid them.
Google Maps gives you the option to avoid highways, take transit, a bicycle or walk. Hint: often the avoid highways option only takes an extra five or 10 minutes, depending on traffic.
• In Chattanooga, the Transit App, also free, shows you how to get around town by using CARTA busses the free downtown shuttle, Uber and Bike Chattanooga. It even pinpoints the location of your next bus; and CARTA busses have free Wi-Fi.
• Reward yourself: if you choose to carpool, telecommute, take the bus, bike or walk to work, Green Trips Chattanooga offers incentives. They also offer incentive programs through employers.
What apps do you use?

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