Monday, December 10, 2012
At the SMART bus stop, 8:10am: A woman that works at the salon right near my usual bus stop unlocks the door to say hi and to tell me she's glad I'm ok as she hasn't seen me at the bus stop in awhile. Wow.
SB 460, 8:25am: a man drinks 2 five-hour-energy drinks + an iced tea in about 1 minute. Caffeine shots + a chaser? Let's get this party started!
SB 460, 8:35am: the following is seen in front of the DIA:
1. A waving Santa
2. A small card table with a bunch of stuff on it
3. A police car, lights on, on the sidewalk next to the table
Um, the holidays have arrived!?
SB 460, 8:50am: five-hour energy man stands up, spends what feels like 10 minutes fumbling with this pants and maybe puts on a belt?
Post-work, I enjoy a few cocktails with my coworker and catch the northbound 475 back up Woodward. As my stop gets closer, I move towards the front of the bus and who is there? BIG HAT, PLASTIC BAG MAN. The one that hands out sandwiches to people when he gets off the bus! I see him all the time, no matter what bus or schedule I'm running, but we've never spoken.
This guy to me is like bus-celebrity. And how it seems he lives his life? Love him.
He turns to me and "Hi, I see you on the bus all the time. What's your name? I'm Alan. Do you have far to go? No? That's good. It's cold out there. Be safe and see you next time."
As he steps off the bus, yes with his big hat and a few plastic bags, I have this distinct feeling that I'm truly a bus-regular. I'm so used to looking at my bus/biking through the eyes of this blog and material for it - I forget that bus/bike commuting is just kind of a norm for me now. Talking to this bus-saint Alan has me thinking all sorts of stuff. Would I still bus/bike if I didn't have the blog? Do I do weird things on the bus that someone is blogging about?!
Too much wine.
It's time to get home.
But does the story end here? Alas, the best is yet to come.
I have about 1/4 of a mile left on my bike commute. Smooth sailing down this hill right by by my place and I notice man standing right in the middle of the sidewalk near the end of the hill. I get closer and I see he's holding a bag of Doritos and one of the chips up towards the sky - just kind of staring at it. I literally have to stop completely as he's blocking my way. He finally notices me, yells "OH MY GOD I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT YOU WERE THAT LIGHT", and jumps into the grass.
One day. All of this happened in ONE DAY.
I've missed you, people of the bus/city. Three weeks was too long for us to be apart!
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The headline from this article: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20121205/NEWS/121209923/transit-authority-bill-stalls-after-house-dems-withhold-votes-over-right-to-work
What I really want to write: &$%#&#(*$&#(#&@#%#@@#
What I will write instead: it's so beyond sad to me that politics has come to this. And it comes from both sides. Super important legislation that will MOVE THIS AREA FORWARD is swept aside due political games. And has to be used as a bargaining chip.
If I were in the House as a Democrat (let's just say), I don't know if I'd be physically able to vote "no" on the Regional Transit Authority. Is democracy not voting as your constituents - the people that elected you - would vote? Aren't you called a "representative" for a reason?
Super idealistic? Totally. Maybe I don't "understand" politics. But voting with my heart/my constituents hearts on the bill at hand without playing these types of games? C'mon people.
We should all be embarrassed that our political system supports and encourages this kind of behavior. And as a side note - "this behavior" also includes bringing up something like "Right to Work" during a lame duck session after previously stating it wasn't a priority for your administration, Gov. Snyder.
So until we get this *all* figured out - I'll just continue to watch the efficiency of the DDOT Woodward 53 and the SMART 450 leapfrog all over Woodward as we all watch the Regional Transit Authority fade away in the distance. We've been waiting 30+ years for this, so what's another legislative session?
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Thursday, September 27, 2012
I know the answer is probably close to 100% of our dear, wonderful 2W4W readers. We all know the limits on our transit options.
So, what's been going on lately?
Traffic has been like LA-style (ok, maybe a *tad* dramatic) parking-lot-moving-nowhere-it-now-takes-me-almost-one-hour-to-go-12-miles.
Lines of people waiting for the bus have been CRAZY. A bus-commute down Woodward = a bunch of people waiting and ONE bus spotted during morning rush hour. ONE BUS. BOTH WAYS. WHAAAT.
So the region is growing (awesome), people are working (alright, alright), needing to get around...so hmmmm.
What could be next...??
Maybe, just maybe a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) for SE Michigan? So we can move forward and take the region to the next level?
Local business and higher education leaders confirm what we all know and live:
There's a hearing TODAY in Lansing on these important bills. If you can't make it to Lansing - no worries! Here's a great opportunity to email your legislators to let them know (and remember - they work for YOU) that you support the RTA.
And pass this info on to your family, friends, lovers, neighbors - anyone and everyone!
Every major metropolitan city in the world has seen the major and amazing benefits of an RTA. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Let's do this!
Thursday, September 13, 2012
There is this short-ish man that always gets on the bus in Pleasant Ridge. He's older, kind of hunched over, and is always wearing some sort of huge hat. Khakis and a jacket. He's also one of those people I see all over downtown Detroit - sometimes in my office building, sometimes on the street at lunch or after work. One thing I always have noticed is that he has an insane amount of plastic grocery bags full of stuff with him. Like dude bought groceries for the week, and decided to drag them all over on the bus and downtown. Every. single. day.
Today, I happened to get off the bus in behind him and noticed that there were many people kind of standing and maybe waiting for him. When he stepped off the bus, these folks kind of descended quickly upon him - so I was kind of keeping an eye out (he's a bus buddy, gotta watch out for each other!). Then he opens the plastic bags and he starts handing things out. Food from what I saw. Sandwiches. He's asking people what they'd like - was there a specific sandwich they wanted. Wow.
And here I just thought he was a crazy dude that really loved his grocery shopping.
The people of the bus. The people of Detroit. Full of surprises - and compassion.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
First, on my way home this evening I saw Batman (in cape) riding his bike east across Woodward, north of downtown. On his way to meet Robin for happy hour? Beware bad guys?! BOOM! POW! CHOP! DRINK!
Second, DDOT has entered the 21st century! Yes, they launched a text message service that allows you to find out when the next bus will arrive. This is amazing!!! Too amazing to believe, so I tested it immediately. And guess what? It worked!!! So how does it work?
- Text the cross streets where you are to 50464 (message rates do apply).
- You will receive a text message back almost immediately (for real - I tested it out), that asks which direction you are heading. Respond with your direction
- Receive a text message that lets you know how many minutes you need to wait until the next bus arrives.
Monday, August 6, 2012
I know many of you follow us through various social networking means, but we will own up to the fact we've been totally blog-slacking. We have lots of topics in mind, so we're going to start to catch-up. Hope you're ready :)
In the meantime, Oakland County friends - the SMART millage renewal is on the ballot tomorrow. Yes, we know the adjusted SMART schedule is frustrating and has basically eliminated our bus/bike happy hours. Le sigh.
But not voting in favor of this millage?
SMART services would be eliminated at the end of 2012.
Whoa. WHOA. Truly not an option!
VOTE YES tomorrow August 7th in favor of the SMART millage renewal!
More info on the millage from SMART themselves -
Curious about your ballot or where your polling place is? The State of Michigan offers you this awesome resource:
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Usually I don't have any problems with Woodward in Detroit but this morning was different. I left my apartment a little after 8am on my way to a work meeting in the Buhl building. I considered traveling down Cass but then I remembered the construction that is taking place, so I decided to travel on Woodward. It was busy! I was a bit nervous but thought I could brave it and do it.
I started strong and biked in the far right lane until I reached Park Lane, just passed Grand Circus Park, where I was bullied onto the sidewalk. (Why didn't I turn onto Park Lane? It's a one way in the wrong direction of where I needed to go.) I just didn't fit on Woodward and it was so full of speedy cars that I decided not to risk my life trying to figure out how to fit. So I put my head down and rode on the sidewalk until I reached State Street. :(
Once I was on State Street, I biked on the road to Griswold and continued biking on the road despite the mess of congestion on Griswold. I think the difference between Woodward and Griswold was the traffic was slower, so I felt more confident in braving Griswold.
Yes, I know it's *technically* safer to ride on the road than on the sidewalks - not to mention that in some instances it's illegal to ride on sidewalks. I am admitting to you in this post that I need to do a better job of convincing my mind and body that's the case. Or maybe the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) could install bike lanes on Woodward? Just a thought!
Anyway, my bike adventures are not always perfect. I'll keep trying to be a better biker and hopefully one of these rides I will brave riding on Woodward even when it's packed with vehicles.
In the meantime, check out this awesome picture I took of the very full bike rack in the garage downtown. The bumper sticker reminded me that at least I did not add to the congestion on Woodward this morning with my car. :)
P.S. Starship's, "We Built this City" is playing on the radio. (And yes I'm singing along with 2 Women 4 Wheel's motto... We built this city on walk and roll!!!)
Bicycle Safety: How to Not Get Hit by Cars
Bike Commuting 101: Top 5 Rules for Riding on the Sidewalk
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Re: the title of this blog - I've been called Leslie Knope before - for those of you that don't get that reference - Amy Poehler's character on NBC's Parks & Recreation. And for those of you that don't want to Google that? She's super civically-engaged, dedicated to all people/things related to the city she lives in. Really the type that would go to bus system board meetings and try to map out how transit funding flows in her spare time. Sound familiar!?
So having a reason to go to the City Commission meeting and speak at public comment? Sign me up!
I'm there about 5 minutes early to survey the scene, scope out the other non-motorized transportation fans are in the room. I see some other local bikers and we congregate. My seat is on the aisle - which is important to the story later.
Public comment starts and it's a lot to do with events coming up in the city - Memorial Day Parade, etc. Good stuff. Then this man and his two young-adult-age kids get up there and I perk up to listen. They start reading prepared statements about a fundraiser and a blood drive they are having at their respective schools. At one point - the younger kid reads "come to the circle drive at the school - and not sure where that is? Not to worry - we'll be waving you in with balloons and signs!". I have no idea who these kids are but I was BEAMING. These prepared statements. How much they already care about their community. Speaking up in front of a room of adults - using a microphone (which still freaks me out) no less. BABY LESLIE KNOPES. Ah, it gave me so much hope.
So they finish their statements and start to walk back down the aisle. My hand is already raised, ready to be called on for my public comment. The youngest kid, feeling joy from his very successful public comment, raises his hand too. I'm confused for a second, but then I realize - he thinks I'm throwing a high-five! He quickly realizes, sheepishly looks at me, and puts his hand down. But hot damn - I totally would've high-fived that kid. Let's bring that kind of excitement to City Commission meetings! LOVE IT.
And to make the meeting even better? The Non-Motorized Transportation Plan PASSED. Royal Oak is getting bike lanes!! YAY!
Thanks to the local non-motorized transport activists (ahem, Tom Regan for being our fearless organizer!), the consultants that worked on this plan, the Planning Commission, Mayor Ellison and the City Commission. This is democracy and progress at its very finest. So, so proud to be a Royal Oak resident!
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
This morning after cleaning bird poop off of my bike seat (angry birds?), I biked to work. It was warm and beautiful for a day in March, which is rather alarming. POW!
Later in the day, Julie and I met up for lunch, where we enjoyed the weather and discussed how confused - STILL - we are about what's happening and quite frankly, NOT happening with public transportation in southeast Michigan. Maybe there's hope with TRANS4M? (We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on it - please share below.)
Then after lunch it was back to work, so I jumped on my bike to the scene of a water pollution crime located on Brush, between Warren and Canfield, in Detroit. (Earlier I received a tip that there was some "hazardous activity" present.) This is the first time I rode my bike to something like this. I should note that even though I rode my bike to this area, I have no experience dealing with hazardous waste sites or cleanups. Rather, I traveled to the site to learn more information and to make sure the proper officials had been contacted. So with bike helmet still on and sitting on my bike, I ran into FOX News and discussed water pollution and how it negatively impacts the quality of our rivers and Great Lakes. You can see the clip here.
NOTE: This crime isn't to be taken lightly, especially since it happens more often then we think. If you see illegal dumping into the sewers, please contact 911, so that they can notify the proper officials to immediately respond to the situation.
Also, quick poll - my coworker suggested I wear a cape while on my bike to these type of situations. What do you think? Do you see Two Women Four Wheels as superheroes? Capes or no capes?
I was up early today, so decided to get a jump on the workday with the 7:10am 460 out of Royal Oak. Lots of random bus/bike thoughts going through my head today, so its time to just get serious!
1. My bike helmet seems to have expanded over the winter, probably due to winter hat usage, and was totally teetering on my head this morning, in the most "why am I even wearing this?" anti-safety kinda way. The winter hat, which in my opinion, on March 20th in Michigan, I should still be wearing. Which brings me to #2...
2. Although this super warm weather is honestly creeping me out, I am not above saying that I do enjoy wearing capri leggings, a skirt and flats today. Biking this morning SO got me thinking about summer bus/bike happy hours, which is maybe the absolute definition of summer joy. Yeah, I said it!
3. Bus seating - am I the only one that is totally OCD in keeping my stuff on my seat/lap, leaving the seat next to me open for other bus riders? People on the bus this morning were all sprawled out, backpacks, papers, water bottles - other bus riders had to stand. This isn't your personal $2 per ride loveseat, people. The absolute definition of bus rudeness. Yeah, I said it!
And all this before 8am. :) Happy Tuesday, 2W4W fans!
Thursday, March 8, 2012
The SMART 460 has been pretty much running on time out of downtown right after work, so I make sure I'm at the stop a good 5 minutes early - just how I roll. I'm pleasantly surprised to see my friend LaVar at the stop - he's a busser as well AND we ride the same route! How have we never crossed paths?! One of the great bus mysteries. So we're catching up as the SMART cruises up Woodward and this woman almost gets run over trying to catch this bus in the Boston Edison area. You can tell she's harried, but LaVar and I are talking St. Patrick's/Tigers Opening respective Day plans, so we are focused.
In the middle of Highland Park, right across the street from the Glory Supermarket, the bus starts slowing down for the stop and this woman starts going INSANE. "Don't let that *bleepity bleep* guy on this bus!!!", hitting the window and jumping up & down. The entire bus is frozen in time - this is some real live Jerry-Springer type stuff here. The guy is just watching her flip out for a minute while she screams 'I am NOT coming home with you!' (in much more colorful language than I am detailing here, as you can imagine) and he leaves the bus. She goes one more stop and then calmly gets off the bus.
Now, who knows what was happening. The first thing that runs through my mind is that I hope that this isn't some sort of domestic abuse or other terrible situation - and sincerely hope that both parties in this bus drama are ok. But then my mind starts down the 'dramatic bus reenactment' path. Mini-flash mobs acting out dramatic/funny/totally over the top stories/situations. Shakespeare readings. A tribute to the Muppets. The snapping pre-rumble dance from West Side Story. The Dirty Dancing jump-catch scene. The possibilities are ENDLESS. Wouldn't that just make your commute!? And I think it would keep the real drama-full bus riders in check because it would just confuse 'em. What do you think - a win/win!?
Saturday, February 18, 2012
But we are confused. VERY confused.
The Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC) determines the funding split between SMART/DDOT and the Oakland County Transit Authority (OCTA)/Wayne County Transit Authority (WCTA)/Macomb County (the whole county since they don't allow their communities to opt-out = NICE) determine the millage rates. Um, ok. Except the RTCC has apparently disbanded and we cannot find any information on the OCTA and WCTA. When do these groups meet? Who is on these boards? It's a mystery.
RTCC-OCTA-WCTA - let's call the whole thing off.
But wait - then where can citizens express their support for increased funding - which will in turn hopefully = increased (or re-instated) service?
2 Women 4 Wheels is still on the case, not to worry. And we've been doing most of our research via the internet/a few phone calls to personal contacts. Our goal is pinpoint where transit lovers (and, well - taxpayers!) can truly have a legitimate say in transit funding/service and express how important it is to Metro Detroit. So we turn to you - 2W4W's super fans - do you have any info you'd like to share to help us on this quest!?
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wow! What an afternoon?! There is so much to share!
1) As mentioned in an earlier blog, we gave public comment today at the SMART Board of Directors meeting and challenged the Board of Directors and General Manager John Hertel to ride the SMART bus during “off-peak” hours. (NOTE: We were the only ones to give comment. Please join us next time!) We also extended an invitation to them to ride the bus with us, so we could document the experience on this blog. Unfortunately – as of now – we have not received any responses from them. (NOTE: If you are reading this blog and you just so happen to be Mr. Hertel or a SMART Board member, please take us up on our offer! We don’t bite. Heck, we might even ask you to join us during our happy hour adventures in the city.)
2) While giving public comment, we also addressed the following:
- Increased public transparency – we mentioned putting their agendas and minutes on their website
- Inconsistent bus schedule (Insert teaser – there may be a communication system on the way to help with this concern – we’ll discuss more in a future blog)
- Need for additional bike spaces on the bus racks (insert teaser – stay tuned for a really exciting blog about this!)
- Efforts to increase ridership to create demand for a third transportation system
3) After the meeting, we had the opportunity to meet with Deputy General Manager Jim Fetzer and Manager of Marketing & Communications Beth Gibbons. They met with us for over an hour to answer our questions and explain transit concerns in southeast Michigan. (We would like to give a special shout out to Mr. Fetzer and Ms. Gibbons for spending so much time with us after the meeting and for being regular blog readers! )
Since we learned so much new information today, we need a couple happy hours to organize our thoughts and create some sassy presentations that explain all of it and how you can help to strengthen our transit system. Stay tuned for those exciting blogs! :)
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Also - please join us at the Board Meeting this Thursday - the more voices and stories we have - the stronger we are collectively. Let's do this, metro Detroit transit fans!
Two Women, Four Wheels
Facebook Page: 2 Women 4 Wheels
Two Women Challenge SMART Board & SMART General Manager to Ride the SMART Bus
WHEN & WHERE:
Thursday, January 26 at 2pm
SMART Administrative Office 6th Floor Board Room; 535 Griswold; Suite 600; Detroit, MI
Melissa Damaschke, Detroit resident
Julie Funke, Royal Oak resident
Outraged by the cuts in services by SMART, Two Women, Four Wheels will provide public comment challenging the SMART Board of Directors and General Manager to ride the SMART bus with them into or out of Detroit during their defined “off-peak” hours. Two Women, Four Wheels hopes that by experiencing the inconvenience of commuting between two separate bus systems in a large metropolitan area, SMART will reconsider its decision that only allows SMART buses to enter the city of Detroit during their defined “peak hours.”
Two Women, Four Wheels is an organized effort by Damaschke and Funke that documents their experiences using the SMART and DDOT buses while also biking in Detroit and the metropolitan area.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Today, dear Two Women Four Wheels fans, was one of those days. The bus/bike gods were not on my side, but not to worry, my bus/bike spirit is not deterred!
This morning, I wake up with plans to go to the gym for my morning workout. I do a quick check of the weather and realize it's pretty warm today - for Michigan standards. Yes, I can hear it's raining, but it doesn't look too bad. Plans adjusted = it's a bus/bike day! Hooray!
I'm heading down Rochester Road in Royal Oak and I hit a few puddles. My boots get wet but I have some decent gear. These babies are waterproof and my feet stay nice and toasty dry.
I'm headed south on Washington toward the Transit Center when all of the sudden, it happens. A truck hits a puddle and I am literally overtaken by a small tidal wave. As I stop to recover and assess the damage, another truck hits the SAME puddle and the aftershock tidal wave occurs. This time, I get mascara/general street dirt in my eye, and one of my contacts washes away. I then become mildly smart and move away from the scene of the numerous puddle crimes (I just could not take a third tidal wave) and realize I am soaked to the bone. And covered in dirt/grime/whatever may be floating in Royal Oak's standing street water. Oh yeah, and I can only see out of one eye. The absolute definition of hot mess.
Sadly, SADLY, I make the decision to turn back, clean up at home, and drive to work (so I'm only mildly late vs. mega late).
I have never, ever turned back from a bus/bike adventure. Seven degrees windchill? BRING IT. Rain? You know what, I'm washable. 90 degrees and 100% humidity? You know, you can bike in a skirt w/ bike shorts, ladies. Gets a nice breeze going. I'm just sayin'.
So I pedal home disappointed but still thankful that I have options. I don't have to bus/bike. But I LOVE to bus/bike. And I sincerely hope that through our stories (and yours too), we are able to spur some real transit-based change around lovely southeast Michigan.
Biking home, soaking wet, semi-blind, totally dirty, I think through the lessons learned:
1. Get some waterproof pants and mascara
2. WATCH out for puddles in the street (because car drivers won't and don't really need to)
3. I miss snow! It's January in the mitten state, for cryin' out loud.
4. You may have won this battle rain/trucks/puddles, but you haven't won the war.
And then, driving down Woodward on the way to work, I think about (and see) many of the folks that may not have the option to jump in their car to avoid crappy weather. The weather is just something you have to deal with, as is our transit 'system' - and I use that term very lightly given all of the current holes in service.
I know a lot of our readers out there must have some great weather/bus/bike stories - total fails or total wins! Please feel free to share :)
Monday, January 9, 2012
My friend Christina and I meet up - normal time to take the SMART downtown. We end up meeting some other friends at the Park Bar/Bucharest Grill for some post-work cocktails/snacks. We enjoyed what Bucharest is famous for - de-lish shawarma, and hence the reference to baited breath. We will do anything for bus safety, including creating a personal garlic shield. #watchitbuscreepos
Around 9:10pm, Christina and I head out to pick up the bus in front of Comerica Park - and on what proved to be another (spoiler alert) almost two-hour tour.
9:12pm - is that a DDOT Woodward 53? IS IT? Or wait - is that TWO Woodward 53s, leapfrogging their way up the street? There is clearly a schedule issue here, but we just happened to be on the correct side of it (this time).
9:14pm - DDOT success! The bus is packed, no available seats but numerous other chivalrous bus riders offered us their seats.
9:25pm - A solo blues concert begins, with the following lyrics:
"People don't smell like they used to around here, around herrrre. Praise Jesus and Hallelujah!" The lyrics are beyond bus-appropriate, and this guy is actually kind of a good singer.
9:40pm - Arrive at the State Fairgrounds
10:15pm - The 9:53pm SMART 450 Woodward bus arrives. Approximately 15 people are waiting - so patiently and quietly, it's actually kind of eerie.
10:16pm - A man literally thinks he's Heath Ledger's version of The Joker and makes some pretty disturbing noises. "Weeeeeeee!!" and informs the bus "life is soooo much funnier when you smoke weeeeddd". I really start to miss the blues concert and creative lyrics. Other bus riders literally move seats away from this Joker.
10:35pm - Arrive in Royal Oak. So happy to see that my bike rear light (that I forgot to take with me in the morning) is still in place. The mean streets of RO were kind this evening!
10:55pm - Arrive home, safe & sound. Thankful for a beautiful night and good company to wait for the bus/bike.
I bike on average about 12 miles per hour. Doing the math (and yes, I will - the numbers never lie!) - we could have biked home in approximately 75 minutes. That's a 27% increase in time TO RIDE THE BUS.
As we were waiting at the State Fairgrounds, it just felt surreal. Not only was it spookily quiet, but it really got me thinking. Who are these people making these decisions about transit in our area? Do they have any idea what this is like?
So another call-to-action:
SMART BOARD MEMBERS.
Yeah, we're talking to you.
Take a bus ride with us.
On an off-peak time.
See what your tax-paying citizens are having to deal with.
Are you up to the challenge?