Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why We Don't Take the Bus [#CTWW]

This week's challenge:

This week, for at least one day, leave your car parked. Instead, walk or ride a bike.

OR ...

If you don't drive or can't do without your car, please choose other actions designed to reduce air pollution. Need some ideas? Avoid power tools (such as lawnmowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, etc.) and use manual tools instead. Stop smoking! Choose water-based products (paints, solvents, etc.) instead of products which contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Avoid commercial indoor air fresheners. Drive smart (accelerate slowly, turn off the engine if the car is stopped for more than 30 seconds, combine errands for one trip, etc.). Reduce energy use (much of the world's energy is derived in ways which pollute ... think smoke stacks). Add house plants to your home. Plant a tree. Use natural, safe cleansers. Buy locally produced items (reduces transport pollution).

The first thing I thought of when I read this week's challenge was taking the bus. Taking the bus is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment. While taking the bus to work is often thought of as a cheaper alternative than driving your car, most people do not ride the bus to be environmentally friendly. In our culture, riding the bus carries the stigma that one cannot afford a car. Maybe someone who earns a low income or someone who does not have a job at all. Riding the bus (for purposes other than work) has a negative connotation attached to it.

When I worked in the corporate world, people would talk about taking the bus to/from work and how much money it was saving them. Never once did I hear about someone taking the bus to the grocery store or to the post office. And never once did I think about taking the bus to Whole Foods. I even despised taking the express bus to work when my husband and I would travel and he would pick me up on the way out of town. Something about having to play by someone else's schedule...

Why wouldn't one take the bus to locations other than work? 

First, it would take a lot longer to take the bus to the grocery store than to drive there. While work routes are usually express routes, regular city routes have many more stops. Maybe people would choose to drive over the bus because it would take longer. Though if you live closer to a grocery store, it might not take too much longer. Whole Foods Market is a 12-15 minute drive from my house. Taking the bus would end up taking closer to 30 minutes (one way).

Second, the western world is focused on achieving the status of having your own car. Most teenagers are probably thinking all the time about saving up to buy a car and/or getting their driver's license. There is something about having this freedom and independence to go where you want to go. Taking the bus means that you are dependent on someone else. Furthermore, taking the bus might give the perception that one cannot afford a car. Many people might not want that perception. 

Growing up, my parents had one car, so a lot of travel within city limits was by bus. I remember standing for long periods of time waiting for buses with my mom or my grandma. Personally, I have a negative perception of taking the bus because it reminds me of a challenging time in my childhood. 

Whether or not I have this perception or connotation, it does not mean that I should never take the bus. In the meantime, while I work up the courage to take the bus, I will walk and run. With the recent warmer temperatures, I have tested the following simple plan: run with the baby in the jogging stroller around the neighborhood, then walk to the shopping center (1/2 mile away) to take care of small errands (mailbox, library, Walgreens, clothes shopping, wine/beer shopping, etc). This plan has worked well and I look forward to taking care of errands car-free while getting my runs in during the day. 

>> What are your thoughts on riding the bus? Love it? Hate it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

pretty nice blog, following :)

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