How To Live Local: Creating Your Two Mile Map

Over the next couple weeks I have a few posts I will be doing that revolve around issues of sustainable living. In these posts I will be trying to avoid the more preachy, theoretical rants I can often find myself falling into. Rather these will be focused on tips and tricks, basic stuff that’s fun and easy to do. For the first post I wanted to say something about commuting and living life near your home.

As most of you know by now, I love riding bikes, and I really like to commute on my bike. I find it really easy and fun to do for a number of reasons. Not only is it more exercise than I would get driving (or normally subject myself to), but it’s a way to get to now our neighborhood better. I know it might sound crazy, but you miss a lot of stuff (smells, scenery, even changes in the air temperature) when you drive to a place. I’ve often wondered how Jesus’ own ministry was impacted (and had impact) simply because he had to walk everywhere. Finally, I find that riding to work, school and my other favorite spots throughout the week gives me time to pray and think about stuff, which is different from when I drive because I normally just rock my ipod.

Forty percent of our trips are under 2 miles. These trips present a great opportunity to get on the bike, and make it a car-free outing.

cicle.org

Making a Commuter Map

Because of all this I wanted to offer a really simple thing to do for those of you who are interested in cutting down on the amount you drive. Here’s what I’ve done:

  1. Find a cheap (or free) map of your neighborhood/town/city.
  2. Emily and I recently moved back to Pasadena, the city where Fuller is, and because we used to live here we had an old map laying around of the city. If you don’t have a map and want to get one cheaply contact our department of transportation and see if they will send you one, that’s how I got ours. For those of you in the pasadena area go here.

    I would recommend getting a map that has the bus and train routes on them if it’s possible so that you can have a good overview of what buses and trains you can use and combine with your walking and bike riding. This will greatly extend the distance you can travel. Finally, I’d recommend getting two of the same maps, one for your wall and one for your bag (duplicate the steps here as you see fit). That way when you’re on the go you can pull out your map and know where you can pick up a bus, or how far from home you really are.

  3. Get out your sharpies, compass or ruler, and a pencil
  4. Tools for making your map.

  5. Locate where you live on your map.
  6. I know this may be difficult for some of you! 😉 But put a star, or a box, or whatever you’d like over the top of your house on the map. Now you know where you live!

  7. Draw 2 circles
  8. Using a compass (or a ruler) place the metal point on your house, and draw 2 circles. The first one should be 1 mile in diameter with your house in the center. This circle represents places that are within easy walking reach (actually we will walk up to 1.5 miles but after that it starts feeling like a pretty long walk). Draw your second circle 2 miles in diameter, this represents a good biking distance. These are places you can ride to without pretty quick and easily. Of course you can ride much further than this, when we lived in Highland park my commute was up to seven miles and it could be fun at times, but what we are doing here is creating a 2 miles map that represents a reasonable distance that is easy to live within.

    commuting map

  9. Locate your go to spots.
  10. This was my favorite part of the process. I looked for school, work, our church, the grocery store, Peets, and Andy’s (a place I eat breakfast at with my friends).

  11. Get your bike road ready and your feet walking ready to use your car less.

  12. Finally, stick your map on a wall and when you think about going to school, work, or doing your errands around town ask yourself if you can walk or bike there. Check and see where these places fall on your map, and go for it.

This two-mile neighborhood-living biking map thingy accompanies well the 100 mile diet.

I initally learn these tips from cicle.org.

Published by

Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

6 thoughts on “How To Live Local: Creating Your Two Mile Map”

  1. For those of us in SF, we’re pretty lucky that we have the SF Bicycle Coalition (http://www.sfbike.org) which puts out a map of cycling routes around our hilly city. That map helps people to navigate away from the hills, avoid the challenging cut-through freeway system (see my post on the amazing cyclists I saw at http://27wishes.wordpress.com/2007/09/01/bicycling-your-way-out-of-sf/ and have safe passage on biking lanes. Of course, joining a bike coalition and being political about having your city address an overall transportation plan for the next 10 years is key.

  2. Wess, just this morning I sent a message to a friend that

    “As our economy changes speed and direction, and I pray, adjusts to the post-oil reality, having smaller worship groups within walking distance will become recognized as desirable. Perhaps that is something to work on here.”

    As a ruburbanite, I have been looking around at what’s within a two-mile circle, and find I’m pretty close to what is becoming a village center. There is a working farm within a mile, and a state forest trail system that might make for a relatively straight-line path from this neighborhood to the “village” that is developing at the edge of the next town over.

    Thanks for including the practical encouragement!

  3. @John, glad you liked it.

    @Chad, yeah it seems like you guys in SF have some really great options when it comes to living more locally and getting around pretty easy. But I have to admit when I saw those hills I wondered how anybody could manage, especially on fixies.

    @Raye,
    Great quote! I completely agree with you and would love to see churches, meetings, and worship groups start to become more local as well. I think it would help in leading us to be more missional in our neighborhoods as well.

    I’ve never heard of a ruburbanite before, but I am glad you bring up the point about finding what is near you. I know we don’t all live in cities like pasadena and that could mean that not everything is easily accessible within a 2 mile (or so) reach but to utilize whatever is within that area is still a great idea.

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