A “trip” is the transportation planner’s name for the action of leaving home (H) to go somewhere else, and also going from that somewhere else (SE) to another somewhere else, and from the last somewhere else back to home.

Another way to write that would be to compare a “chained” trip (H-SE-SE-H) to two separate trips (H-SE-H + H-SE-H; also called “unchained” trips).

Trip chaining is a common pattern practiced by many people who usually use bicycles or transit for their trips so as to reduce effort and monetary cost, respectively. (I think there is also something to be said that trip chaining is also a natural way to “use time wisely”, but there are ways to use time wisely on long trips via transit.)

Effort in the context of the trips I tend to make can have many meanings: it can be the physical work put into riding a bicycle, but it’s also the time and energy to get ready to leave the house for several hours, the friction of moving my bike out of a building’s bike room and wondering if someone else will park there bike in “my” space when I’m gone, as well as the stress that comes with bicycling in Chicago.

Today I did a big trip chain…

  1. I walked to the Harrison Red Line station to ride the ‘L’ to Fullerton, after which I walked over to Wrightwood 659 to see two art exhibits.
  2. Then I walked back to Fullerton to take the Brown Line ‘L’ to Lincoln Square to pick up a new homemade CO2 sensor.
  3. After that meeting I took the ‘L’ to Clark/Division so I could shop at Aldi (a block walk in each direction).
  4. Finally I took the ‘L’ a fourth time back to Harrison.

Trip #2 was a deferred trip. The sensor was ready for me to pick up two weeks ago but it was unnecessary to make a trip just to go get it. I had no other errands to run in the Lincoln Square area, and no compelling reason to invent other trips between home and Lincoln Square (although I guess I could always stop at Aldi to restock certain groceries I prefer to buy there).

Trip #2 was a necessary but time insensitive trip.

A week ago, however, I scheduled to visit the galleries at Wrightwood 659. Because I would already be halfway to Lincoln Square I then scheduled the pick up.

Trip #3 was a spontaneous trip. Since I had such a long distance to go from Lincoln Square back to the Harrison station I figured that I might try to do some other things along the way…would I need to pick up beer at Off Color Brewing’s Mousetrap, should I stop at a Whole Foods (there are two along the Red Line, although there used to be a third one, next to the Fullerton station), or something else?

Welp, there’s an Aldi store one block away from the Clark/Division Red Line station. Perfect! My chained trip became even more efficient!