Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Confession Tuesday: The confessions of a bus rider (2)

"In my life I’ve found myself the only pedestrian in Los Angeles, and the only white pedestrian in Johannesburg. Begging lifts from acquaintances, I’d end up in the back seat like an eight-year-old."

In all honesty, this statement is not mine. I only was the only white bus rider on the former 51A, passing through the Projects, who was neither a drug addict, nor a case worker. The story from which I quoted above belongs to Simon Kuper. A non-driver, with whom I sympathize because I am a non-driver too. Especially since I moved to Pittsburgh and I experienced the shortfalls of being one of the few suburbanites without a driver's license. And if for the older women it did not seem that unusual to be a non-driver - after all I am a woman and do not need that power extension called "car" to stress my social status - in my age group I was quite a rarity.

Fortunately , in the last two years, I started to notice more often bus riders in my age group. And I realized that there are more people in my age group returning to the city. The " new trendsetters", as Simon Kuper calls them...and he is right. And he rightly notes that cars are no longer what they used to be... They do no longer stress the driver's prestige, unless they are custom made, since the broad supply of good quality vehicles and the auto industry crisis drove prices down. They are not the time savers they used to be either - a car ride would only 'save' me 20-30 minutes from the trip. But I did use my bus ride to write the draft on this blog post. And honestly, you wouldn't want me to do that while driving? Not to mention that the costs of driving , either quantifiable such as insurance, gas and maintenance or not, like pollution, are going up as the prices of cars go down...

It is not that the car will disappear as a mean of transportation. On the contrary - as developing countries adopt it , more and more cars will roam the Earth. After all they have their use, especially in rural areas where the only other option may seem to be riding horses or walking ten miles to the closest store. But they are no longer the defining mean of transportation for the 21st Century, as they were for the 20th...

Plus, there is something else about it, about being a "non-driver" in love with the opportunities of urban dwelling ... Such as the possibility to walk out in the morning and stop for a cup of coffee in my way to work . Or the indescribable emotions - to be able to stroll down the Corso* on an warm evening thinking "And maybe I will meet with a friend ...or make a new acquaintance "

And I realize that I cannot wait for the day when my son will graduate from high-school and I will be able to move back to the city. Because it is not that I am a non-driver...  but that I am a pedestrian and a bus-rider.
@shadow "realize bike is also a mode.I've done bus+zipcar+walk+zipcar+bike for a trip."

me: Yeap, bike riders are citizens of the 21st Century too.

*Corso -the generic name used by Romanians to denote the main walking route (boulevard ) of the city.


Diana said...

Well said, Ana! Having been exposed to transport options in both the developed and the developing worlds, I am definitely for the cleaner, less noisy and sustainable public transit, bus, cycling and ebiking alternatives. Although I have a driver’s license, I choose not to own a car – felt some stigma initially but not anymore, thank goodness for the 21st century transportation awakening.

@shadow said...

me? i'm multimodal

I've done bus+zipcar+walk+zipcar+bike for a trip