Monday, October 24, 2011
During my bus commute Monday morning, I came across two letters to the editor from the October 17th issue of Crain's Detroit Business that gave me opposite reactions, and I was thus inspired to write this post.
First, if you didn't see the news, the SMART bus system plans to cut 22% of bus service - here's some more background - http://wdetfm.org/news/story/SMART_Cuts_Jobs_and_Services/
Now for the analysis:
From James Tocco -
"It is inconceivable that our civic leaders cannot find the resources to manage and even improve our much-needed mass transit system. Wouldn't an improved and expanded modern bus system serve better than the ground service rail that everyone appears to be fixated on?"
From Mike Butts (and I'm sorry for your last name, dude, but that doesn't excuse this clearly uninformed comment) -
"Wow, this means 22% fewer empty buses cluttering up the road."
Starting with Butts, this individual CLEARLY has never been on a local bus. Those that follow our Twitter feed and blog, know that we are often stranded due to lack of bus service AND lack of open bike racks. Mike Butts, if you an happen to read this, I invite you to ride with Two Women Four Wheels one day. Could you handle it?!
There is a clear need for mass transit in the Detroit area, which brings me to the comment from Tocco. I like it. The bus system is there, let's improve it rather than defund it, and see how FULL those busses are - I am not a betting person but I would put some serious money on this. I do support the rail system, but I also understand his point. If we can't keep our bus system funded, and cause people to seek out non-public transit alternatives - what message does that send to the various funders of our rail project - which include the federal government? We have this great system already, we should spend our money wisely, and USE it.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Those of you that are avid followers of our blog/Twitter feed know that we attract quite the motley (and a lot of times, amazing) crew of folks. It's been awhile since I've had a good bus suitor story, but yesterday. Yesterday made me believe in bus romance yet again!
After waiting for almost 45 mins for any SMART bus from downtown Detroit, the 450 glows up Woodward like a the beacon of SMART (ha! that seriously makes me laugh every time I read it - and yes, I know I should probably keep that to myself) transit that it is. I hug Melissa goodbye, grab the last space on the bike rack, and settle in for a quiet bus ride home.
Just past the Midtown area, a guy is waiting for the bus with his bike. With the full bike rack, the drivers are not supposed to let people with bikes on the bus. But the driver takes a poll of us bike-owners, determines a biker is getting off the bus soon enough, and lets the guy bring his bike on the bus. Having been stuck numerous times watching buses with full bike racks fly by, I appreciate the driver's willingness to work with this biker. My Midwest self decides that I'm going to thank him for being such a great driver on my way out, and thus the story unfolds.
We roll up to the Royal Oak Transit Center, I thank the bus driver for being awesome, grab my bike off the bike rack, turn on my sassy new bike lights and I see the driver is yelling something at me. I will continue the story in screenplay fashion....you know the adventures of Two Woman Four Wheels are going to make an amazing movie/sitcom/Comedy Central special one day.
"Would you call SMART and tell them I did a great job?"
"Sure - of course. What's your name?"
"I am NOT about to tell you my name in front of this bus full of people. It is SO rude that you asked me that!" (bus door closes, bus driver drives about 5 feet and opens the bus door again)
(other bus riders are just peering at this interaction in MASS confusion)
"I wasn't trying to be rude or a jerk. I was just trying to make sure you got credit. I'm not asking for your social security number or fingerprint or anything! Sorry."
"How would you like it if I asked YOUR name in front of this bus?"
"Well, I'd tell you my name. And for the record, it's Julie."
"Alright then. You're pretty cute, so how about I get your phone number?"
And my response.....in front of a full bus audience....
"C'mon now" (shakes head)
(bus driver laughs, door closes, and my bus driver suitor rolls on).
Monday, October 17, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Since I've attached a fancy new odometer to my bike this year, it's been so great to see the effects of my pedal power.
So I will start in my comfort zone - here are some fun numerical facts!
Key info to start with - 216 miles ridden since May 2011.
What does that equal?
At an average of 35 calories a mile = 7,560 calories burned. A vodka soda has 65 calories so that equals 116 FREE vodka sodas. This vodka stat alone proves the worthiness of bus/biking, but please, humor me and let me continue!
My Honda Civic gets about 35 miles to the gallon in the city. Doing the math, I've saved about 6 gallons of gas if I had driven those 216 miles rather than biking them. That's keeping 120 lbs of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere! YES.
Saving gas and EARNING vodka sodas? Sign me UP.
So let's move on to the things that I do not get - anything mechanical. I love stats, numbers, logistics, but man, if you ask me how something works? Please, that's just comedy.
This story goes back to the Tour De Troit (http://www.tour-de-troit.org/) - which is an awesome 22 mile bike ride through Detroit in mid-September. I had been noticing around a month leading up to the Tour that biking was getting really tough for me. It felt like I was pedaling uphill constantly, couldn't get past 8 miles an hour. I have an old mountain bike (that I LOVE and has gotten me over more curbs and potholes in this town) so I thought - it must be getting too heavy - what else could it be!? I even dragged a friend around bike shopping for a whole Sunday afternoon (thanks Alex) thinking it was time to invest in a road bike. But for some reason, I just couldn't commit to a new bike - the budget just wasn't there, and I was frankly bummed to be giving up on my old trusty (while crazy heavy) mountain bike.
We are getting ready for the Tour and Alex & my friend's dad are loading my bike up on a bike rack. Alex alerts me to the fact that my back brake has been PARTIALLY ON. He does some sort of bike mechanical magic and voila. As Patrick Swayze would say, "she's like the wind". I literally had been resistance training/climbing up a hill/burning through my back brake for about a month. Seriously. Talk about burning calories.
Every year, I make a resolution to try to become more handy. I've been to bike maintenance classes, but there may be some sort of neurological mis-fire (or maybe just too many "free" vodka sodas?) that I'm not sure if I'll be able to overcome. Until then, I will keep to my numbers, stats, and being thankful for having mechanically-minded friends - or people you can hire!