Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Local Man in 2023


Columbia Man has a whole new look! You do remember Columbia Man, don’t you? 

He first appeared in the iconic Rouse Company ad "There goes the 8:11 to Columbia" which I found at Columbia Archives. It ran in Time Magazine in March of 1971. The text begins, "Men walk to work in Columbia, MD. The walker above, engrossed in his Washington Post, makes it in nineteen minutes."

Image from Columbia Maryland Archives

I wrote about him in 2015 in “Local Man Breaks Record” which celebrated the uncanny resemblance of a certain Local Man to the original from the advert.

Local Man fulfilled a childhood dream yesterday by breaking the commuting record of well-known Columbia Man, seen above, right. Columbia Man set the original record of nineteen minutes door-to-door in March of 1971.

Local Man proudly posted his route and his time at approximately 7:30 am. He came in at a brisk seventeen minutes.

I had so much fun with this concept that I brought it back a year later for “A Look at a Local Legend.

This morning a Twitter post took my concept of Columbia Man and turned it upside down. Here’s an entirely different kind of Local Man.

My commute to work today was by scooter. I used my electric scooter door to door on Columbia pathways without crossing over a major road. It took 20 minutes. The 3 major roads I crossed were by tunnel. My goal is to use my scooter 10% of the school year (18 days). Today was day 5 of 18.

If the face of today’s Local Man seems familiar - - it’s Mr. Ed Cosentino, Principal of Phelps Luck Elementary School. It looks like he’s found a way to ditch the car* on some days and still make it to work on time by using an electric scooter. And he’s using social media to share his experience. Perhaps other folks who follow him will be inspired to try it, too.

I had to laugh at myself a bit because I often fault Columbia’s pathway system for being more recreational than useful. (In fact, I did that just yesterday.) Clearly Mr. Cosentino’s breezy commute challenges that notion. He has found a way to make it work. I have a feeling that school principals are good at that.

I can’t imagine what the original Columbia Man would think of zipping through the suburban woods, helmet on, tote bag slung over one’s shoulder. It’s quite a change from a briefcase and the Washington Post.

While today’s Local Man does not break the original record of nineteen minutes, I suspect that’s because he’s traversing a longer distance. It’s harder to live close to where you work than it used to be. 

*Small changes can have big positive impacts. If just 5% of the 106.4 million American workers who currently commute by single-occupancy vehicle shifted to another mode they could save nearly 21 million tons of CO2 per year. - - Ride Amigos Blog

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