A Rant (with no research behind it)
Wow, the things I hear about at work that get me riled up!
For the second time in a week, one of my colleagues was delayed in traffic on I-90 due to a crash in a construction zone. Apparently someone crashed into and bounced off of a median cement barricade several times. The ambulance came and took the driver away, so hopefully the person will survive. I pray to God this is so.
It is terrible how many vehicular collisions or near-misses occur on our roads and highways. It is ridiculous how much traffic there is, and how often traffic slows down due to congestion on our roads. And don’t get me started on construction season – which is generally used as a synonym for summer here in Wisconsin.
I realize that we as Americans – particularly suburbanites – count on being able to hop in a car and drive ourselves pretty much anywhere at pretty much anytime. The idea of being constrained by the public transit schedule and actually PLANNING out our daily errands in advance in order to travel someplace – like to work or a grocery store – does not generally appeal to most people. We find it inconvenient to be at the mercy of a public transportation schedule. This is why we have cars, right? So we don’t have to rely on a bus or a train to get us where we need to go by a certain time. We can just GO.
Given the increasing rate of urban sprawl this is not a sustainable mind-set.
When I focus on the devil I know – the greater metropolitan area of Madison, WI – I see there are two major problems:
- There is no public transit system in place servicing suburban areas (both intercity and intracity). We are forced to drive ourselves everywhere. You might have a relatively short commute – say, 8-10 miles – but if everyone is on the road trying to get to work or home at the same time this leads to traffic congestion, impatience and ultimately traffic collisions.
- I might be going out on a limb here, but I believe there is a negative view of public transit systems already in place. Perhaps, for example, a social stigma associated with riding the bus. Can’t you afford a car? You must be on welfare, or something.
“Why’re you taking the bus, dude? That’s unAmerican. This is the US of A – where we drive ourselves everywhere one person per SUV and burn gasoline indiscriminately. Manifest destiny represent!” *fist-bump*
Well, most other places in the world (even larger cities here in the US of A such as New York) have this thing called public transportation, or mass transit systems. There are public busing systems, taxi cabs, or subway trains, etc. But for some reason people tend to look down on public transportation and those who use it. As I’ve already mentioned, public transportation has this “stigma” and the idea of it creates a foul stench in our nostrils. We might *gasp shudder* have to sit by someone we DON’T KNOW and make small talk. Possibly even someone who mutters to themselves and/or smells like they haven’t showered in a month.
On the plus side: if you are riding the train or bus to work, then you can surf the ‘net and text on your cellphone to your heart’s content.
Unfortunately, we’d rather risk getting seriously mangled or killed in a car crash on the Interstate that be forced to ride a bus across town. Because driving is faster, more convenient, and you don’t have to sit next to strangers.
Personally, I’d rather ditch the car and ride a train in to work and home again every day. Because driving stresses me out in oh so many ways.
But that’s just me.
And that was my rant.