I hear all sorts of stories in Seattle. Compared to Portland the commute seems to be much more of an effort for a lot of people in Seattle. Some people it is as easy as Portland, others have the nightmare of the hour or longer commute.
It always seemed, and I’ll admit a slightly skewed perspective, that the city dwelling urbanites of Portland had no qualms at all with their commute. As a matter of fact most of the urban dwellers loved their commute of 5 minutes, 10, or maybe even 20 minutes. The suburbanites, with their life draining, fun sucking drives of 30+ minutes often complained to no end. However being an urbanite while I lived in Portland I rarely heard about these people’s commuting misery. Then of course, even at 30 minutes most Portlanders really don’t have anything to complain about. Portland really does, as a fact, have a super easy commute with pretty low commute times. Unless of course someone decides they want misery and lives 40 miles out from the city, but I digress.
Seattle is different though, as a start the place is massive in comparison to Portland. Seattle seems a bit more like other cities I’ve lived in from a geographic perspective. The one massive difference is the relief, i.e. hills everywhere. This changes the perspective of those driving a large degree, namely in the speed equation. People in Seattle do not drive anywhere near as fast as people in other cities I’ve lived in (excluding Portland, which also drives slow slow).
Another huge difference is the town center areas and primary thoroughfares leave pedestrians with a more auto-centric design to large parts of the city. This alters the perception of people coming into and out of areas during their commute. The average anxiety increases dramatically in road environments like this. To me, I find it entertaining as I take a very anthropological approach to watching people during their commutes. To put it simply, their misery at the hands of their own decisions I find laughable and entertaining. In the end, it is their fault that this is such a problem.