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Mid-month check-in on the travel journal

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Two weeks in to my refreshed travel journal, the changes I made to it after last summer’s effort seem to be working out. I significantly stripped down the Google form I use to enter my trips to include starting points, stops, and fields to add additional stops made as part of the same trip. I’ve pre-populated the form with the 15 most common of my stops. I’m also capturing how many people are in a private vehicle beside myself and the purpose for a trip.

The biggest change from a tracking perspective is that I’ve eliminated the option to record a trip as an out-and-back. My spreadsheet was a mish-mash of out-and-backs and one-way trips that was making analysis awkward. I’m much happier with separate entries for a “trip”, which I’ve defined as traveling from a start point to a destination where I stop for a while. It’s not overly rigorous, but is close enough for horseshoes.

Just by way of illustration, I’ve made four “trips” by private vehicle since January 1: two visits to Natalie’s parents. As another explanatory example, there’s two “trips” associated with a visit to NU Grocery recently. The first trip captured is by bike from work to the store. I recorded a second trip by rack-and-roll from the store to home.

Ultimately, what I’m most interested is the correlation between distance and mode, and I think this current methodology will give me the easiest insight into that.

I’ve also made the exercise a little easier by incorporating a simple script into my Google sheet that calculates trip distances from the postal codes. All distances are expressed as whatever Google returns as the walking distance between two points. Manually calculating distance was one of the tasks that led me to avoid or at least put off journaling. The new form with destinations pre-populated and automatic distance calculation has significantly simplified the process.

It’s early days and I’ve only recorded 31 trips. It’s too soon to discern any trends, I think, since I’ve only put one full week in at the office. No surprise, though, at mid-month 42% of my trips are by bike. Multi-modal is important though. All trips with a bike – including bike-to-LRT and rack-and-roll – are 58% of my trips. All trips involving transit are 39%, including bike-to-LRT, rack-and-roll and single-mode trips by bus and LRT.

I expect I’ll regret one choice that will skew the numbers, though: I’m capturing the Rideau Centre as a single stop. I’ve said it before, but one of the things LRT does for those in my neighbourhood who live within easy walking distance of the LRT is to bring Rideau Centre into our neighbourhood. It’s a fast, reliable ride to all those shops and services and I’m seeing more of my neighbours on the train to just deke into the mall – sometimes folks who I might not have pegged for transit users, or at least non-commuting transit users. It makes a lot of sense, particularly if you have a transit pass anyways, to skip the traffic and parking. Fare capping particularly for riders who commute during the week makes it an easy choice on the weekend if they’re tapping with their credit cards to pay the fare; that weekend use is basically “free” under the cap.

But to come back to where I was going with that, I’m capturing stops additional to the main destination and many of my trips to the Rideau Centre probably involve more than one store. Shoppers and Farm Boy are right at the station entrance and the food court and coffee stops are always tempting, there’s are Source and Apple stores, an Indigo and more. I doubt most of my trips to Rideau will be to visit just one store, but I’ll be able to break that out in the final number as some nuance to be aware of.

Overall, I’m happy my new journal format looks like it’ll be easy to stick with. You can always see the latest stats for my modal share here.