Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Breaking the chains that bind us (transit)

Creeps & weirdos GM ad against transit
Jane Willkom writes from San Diego:

I can’t tell you how much that ad pisses me off! OK, yes, I used to ride the X2 everyday and that was quite a show, but I’ve since moved from 8th/H NE to San Diego and the buses here can only be described as delightful from my perspective. I’m astonished that virtually no “white collar” people are on the buses. When I tell people that I don’t have a car, they literally think that there’s something wrong with me. DUI? Seizure disorder? Car repo’d? Well duh, the bus stop is ½ block from my house and in 15 minutes, drops me off 1 block from my office, but this doesn’t at all register as an sensible choice for my inquisitors.

In the end, there just isn’t enough traffic around here to get people out of their cars and on public transportation.

P.S. Thx for the
Flexcar tip (free 1 yr membership). I signed up this week. However, it is more expensive out here because they don’t have Zipcar to compete!

Bob Bruninga's letter to the editor from last Saturday's Baltimore Sun pairs nicely with Jane's:

Don't overlook option to ride bus

I was explaining to my kids one day that we should be using public transportation, but that in America it is impractical because we all live in sprawling suburbs spread out over hundreds of miles. My family lives, works and goes to school along Route 2 between Glen Burnie and Annapolis. We have been happy driving back and forth, especially with the convenience of services along the route. But with two teenagers now driving, much of our lives revolves around scheduling the logistics of sharing the family's two cars among four drivers.

About two weeks ago, I was lamenting to my son about how he was going to have to get up an hour early and take me to work the next morning. Then it slowly dawned on me, as I sat behind the No. 14 bus, that when I leave in the morning, I am behind the bus, when I drop the kids off at school, I am behind the bus, and when I pull into work, I pass the bus in Annapolis.

I am now kicking myself around the block in my blindness to the No. 14 bus, which, over the last 16 years, could have saved me untold headaches. For $1.60 a ride, I now get a professional driver and a warm, comfortable ride that takes only 10 minutes longer than the 25-minute drive. However, that is not time lost but time gained, because I get to use that entire 35 minutes reading The Sun or grading papers instead of cowering in my coupe between monster SUVs.

I just wish I had thought of this 16 years ago.
I think it was in themail that someone was derisive about WMATA's plan to put strobe lights on buses to help reduce pedestrian-bus accidents--a number of pedestrians die each year from such accidents. (See this short, "METRO SAFETY: Strobe Lights To Be Installed On 100 Buses," from the Washington Post for more on this.)

I am a pedestrian, bus rider, bicycle rider, subway rider, and occasional driver, so I maintain multiple perspectives on this issue.

As a bus rider, I always marvel at how damn hard it is to drive a bus, given all the traffic and the frequent unwillingness of cars to "give way." My driving skills aren't the greatest, and I admire the concentration--not to mention the frequent friendliness and helpfulness--of WMATA bus drivers.
Many DC bus lines still follow 1950s streetcar routes
Washington Post photo by Gerald Martineau.



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