RunningByCoolidge

This weekend we make plans to exercise in more creative ways while on the road. We examine the complex world of transportation systems and the value they add — we all don’t suffer through commutes for nothing. There is a value for our efforts. And, in the spirit of traffic jams, we enjoy a video of traffic stuck on hold.

12 ways to stay active while traveling

For some, getting exercise when traveling is a priority. Of course, there are hotel fitness centers, but I, for one, am not all that interested in spending a half-hour rotating through the elliptical machine, swimming laps or going nowhere on a treadmill. Here are some tips for fitting in fitness with a different twist.

1. Drop-in classes
There’s no better time to take advantage of drop-in classes than when you’re traveling. Lucky for us, websites like MizzFit.com and Fitmapped.com will do the research for you, allowing you to search for quality classes by location. This way, the only legwork you have to do is the actual class itself. The best thing about drop-in classes? In many cases, the first class is free!

2. Day-of race registration
Day-of race registrations are perfect for travelers. Next time you arrive at your destination and discover that the annual “Jingle Bell Jog” is going down the next day, register day-of and meet the local running community.

3. Market walking
As the central market in a foreign city is usually a top tourist destination, you’ll probably have plans to visit it anyway. Show up an hour before the market officially opens and after a few laps you’ll be chummy with the vendors and know exactly what you’ll want to pick up for your picnic lunch.

This map wants to change how you think about your commute

This slightly complex story takes a look at commuting not from the point of view of time spent in gridlock, but from the vantage of the value that transportation (public and private) adds to a community. Every trip, whether taken by a metro system, on a tram or bus, or in a private car, is taken for a reason. We, as commuters, are willing to put up with the rigors of getting somewhere because the benefits of being there outweigh the negatives of getting there.

Here is another way of looking at transportation as a positive rather than only examining the pain of the commute. As this article and its accompanying maps show, figuring out the benefits of city transportation systems is far more complex than measuring the pain and lost time of commuting.

How many jobs can I reach in half an hour? How many grocery stores are accessible by car within five minutes? Which neighborhoods in town enable the greatest accessibility, by public transit, to really good restaurants?

“We’re interested in looking at how well transportation systems connect people to the things they want to reach,” Owen [director of the recently created Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota] says, “not just how well they let people move around in space.”

To capture a city’s picture of transit accessibility to jobs over an entire day (don’t forget the night workers!), you’d need to draw those same 54,000 shortest-tree paths for 1,440 minutes. In Minneapolis, that means the Accessibility Observatory – or, rather, the computers it hires from Amazon – processed 4.2 trillion points of data. With it, Owen could now show you a map of 30-minute job accessibility during a different window, from say 4-6 p.m., or he could show you the jobs that are reachable within 15 minutes instead.

Traffic jam prank
Heck, this whimsical comedy goes together with the serious story above. I found myself laughing out loud. Enjoy.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons