I’m a Bus Noob

Today I used a Springfield city bus for the first time. I rode downtown to Stick It in Your Ear to buy the new Bruce Springsteen CD. I’m listening to it as I write this.

I missed buying it yesterday when it was first released because we had an ice storm followed by about four inches of snow.

The side streets and residential streets are still mostly covered in snow and ice. This includes many of the streets on the Springfield Bicycle Route system. I own a 4×4, but I try not to drive it. And because I’m getting rid of it in June, I’m trying to live my life now as if I don’t own it.

I dislike riding a bicycle in the snow — especially four inches of the stuff over ice. Walking downtown was not an option either because all the snow that was scraped off the main roads is now sitting on top of the sidewalks. Here’s a picture of spot at the corner of National and Grand where I caught the bus. There’s supposed to be a sidewalk there.

We live in a car-centric culture. Bicycles share the same road and the same rules as cars. But there is nothing equal in accommodation in many other ways.

Perhaps it’s unreasonable to suppose that cyclists and pedestrians should be given any thought at all when crews are trying to clean up the streets so that thousands of Springfieldians can get to work. I hope to live to see the day when expecting such accommodation seems entirely reasonable.

Those of us who walk and bike in Springfield, for the most part, have to wait for the snow and ice to melt before we can move easily about town. You want to go downtown? Get in your car or get on a bus.

I was happy to get on the bus.

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Comments 8

  1. David Hembrow wrote:

    I prefer this guy :-)

    Posted 29 Jan 2009 at 1:06 am
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Very funny!

    Posted 29 Jan 2009 at 8:22 am
  3. Alexander wrote:

    I used to love the bus and it was my primary method of getting around for years.

    It strikes me that it’s about symbols. The bus and other forms of transportation are integral to the process of segregation in our society. If we want to address the issue of bicycling or bus riding or even walking (which I know two of those are outside the scope of the blog) we have to address this social component.

    True motorists complain about violations of the law or discomfort. But are those complaints really smoke screens for social status that they attach to modes of transit?

    Cars do an effective job of assisting us the hyper-segregation that Americans experience as a society. Who are bicyclists in the minds of motorists? What are we asking motorists to come in contact with by riding a bicycle?

    I know many people didn’t ride the bus in Rhode Island because it was seen as transit for the poor, the criminal minded, or drug addicts (often there were racial undertones to these assumptions).

    The other day in class a student expressed to me disbelief that global warming was real. When I pressed him for a source, he responded by noting that Al Gore just wants to blame us for the world’s problems. It’s very interesting because pollution also is linked to increased asthma in children, cancers, birth defects… but a social symbol or image has become a liability to change in some communities…

    Maybe I’ll ask my students today to tell me about bicyclists…

    Posted 29 Jan 2009 at 9:09 am
  4. Andy Cline wrote:

    Alex… Cool. Let me know what they say. Perhaps you can write a guest post about it!

    Posted 29 Jan 2009 at 9:29 am
  5. Keri wrote:

    Alexander:”Maybe I’ll ask my students today to tell me about bicyclists…”

    Andy:”Perhaps you can write a guest post about it!”

    Wow! Yeah! Please do!

    Speaking of bicycle sociology… Andy, have you followed the bicycle co-op developments in Orlando?
    http://beardlessgrapevan.blogspot.com/
    These are the edgy, CM, fixed gear folks putting their energy into a bike co-op to help the demographic we’ve discussed in previous posts. Pretty cool.

    Posted 29 Jan 2009 at 11:26 am
  6. Nathaniel Carroll wrote:

    I rode the bus once from a car dealership to Drury University. Including wait time, it took about 1.5 hours.

    I started a new blog and mentioned you in a post. Check it out!

    -nathaniel from church

    Posted 29 Jan 2009 at 3:04 pm
  7. robert wrote:

    I would rather crawl on my belly through 3 feet of snow for 6 miles than ride the bus 1 block.

    yuck! I was once forced to have a work meeting “on the bus.” One of the worse hour of my life.

    I still have nightmares about riding the little SMS shuttle back in the day. The same thing that attracts me to the bicycle keeps me out of the busses.

    Posted 29 Jan 2009 at 4:35 pm
  8. Andy Cline wrote:

    Robert… I don’t think the bus has to be a bad experience. There’s an interesting look at attractive systems in Car Sick, by Lynn Sloma. But, yes, a bicycle beats ‘em all any day :-)

    Nathaniel… Yes, I saw that. Thanks for the mention.

    Posted 29 Jan 2009 at 5:24 pm