Chicklet, upon passing a photo of the President: “I wish the 578 would take us to Washington, DC.”
Fun figurines at small people’s eye level:
My small people have been enjoying these dolls, displayed in a ground-level apartment window on one of our well-beaten walking paths, as long as they’ve been aware enough to look around. Chicklet’s favorite is the dancing couple in the back. Busling likes the guy with the “insrament.”
One of the things I appreciate about living in the city is that I’m never far from basic necessities. So, times like now (when even buses are down for the count), I can still walk to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the library, and et cetera. At least, theoretically I can.
Don’t even get me started on the hills.
Several of my readers have asked me to remind Seattle folk that property owners are responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses. (In case you care, the requirement is spelled out in section 15.48.010 of the Seattle Municipal Code.) I happen to think this is impractical for several reasons*, not the least of which is the fact that (if we are to judge by the condition of the sidewalks) no one seems to know this.
But, in the absence of any concerted campaign by the city to inform citizens of this rule, we pedestrians must take matters into our own hands.
Psst! You have to shovel your own sidewalk. Pass it on!
*Who’s in charge of the bus stops? The sidewalks in front of parks? The stretches of sidewalk with no adjacent homes or businesses? Those folks aren’t doing any shoveling!
The Sightline Institute is still plugging away on its informative Sustainababy series. (OK, so I’m not in love with the name, either, but they’re sure covering issues worth reading about.) Installment 25 is by Jennifer Langston, a Sightline employee and mom who tried transit with her toddler for the first time this summer.
Like many parents, Jennifer had been avoiding PT, in part because of the perceived danger of taking her daughter on a vehicle that doesn’t have child safety seats. But then she and her daughter had a great time riding the Seattle Streetcar for a preschool field trip.
“Bus” was one of her first words. [ahem] She startles strangers on the street by yelling it at the top of her lungs whenever she sees one. Yet she hasn’t actually ridden on one yet. And as I saw how fascinated she was by the streetcar–looking at its reflection in buildings, watching the floor joints move, trying to lick the windows, I found myself asking why I hadn’t done this before.
So, she decided to look into it. Here’s what she found:
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2007 found that, statistically, you’re far more likely to be injured or killed riding in a car than a bus. In fact, riding a bus is safer than walking, bicycling, driving a car, or hopping on a motorcycle. Whether the reason is that sheer size of a bus distributes the crash forces differently or that they travel more slowly, the raw numbers are pretty compelling.*
Here are the annualized injury rates (based on 100 million person trips in the US):
• Motorcycle: 10,336
• Bicycle: 1,461
• Car: 803
• Walking: 216
• Bus: 161
And here are the comparable fatality rates:
• Motorcycle: 537
• Bicycle: 21
• Walking: 14*
• Car: 9***
• Bus: 0.4
Thanks for the informative post, Jennifer, and for trusting transit with your precious cargo. See you guys on the bus!
*I assume they don’t have stats for trains because they aren’t really part of “traffic,” but I’d still like to know what they are.
**The walking and cycling stats aren’t especially encouraging. As the study points out, “…most bus occupants are also pedestrians during some portion of their journeys (e.g., during the trip to and from the bus stop)…Measures to promote pedestrian safety should also consider the routes that provide access to public transportation.”
***So, if 40,000 people die in cars every year, and there are nine deaths per 100 million person trips, that means we’re taking a lot of car trips.
On a Wednesday morning walk to Chicklet’s preschool, she requests to be carried. Per usual, I decline.
“You don’t need to be carried, you’re a…”
Chicklet, who has apparently changed her tune since our recent discussion of the topic, anticipates my response and cuts me off.
“I’m not a bus chick!” hollers my little Link-obsessed darling. “I’m a train chick.”
And for the record, I was going to say, “big girl.”
I think I’ve finally found an explanation for all those abandoned shoes.
My current* bus read is Helena Andrews’ new memoir, Bitch is the New Black. While the book isn’t exactly my flavor (no disrespect), there’s no doubt about Ms. Andrews’ talent; the woman is hilarious. She’s also a total bus chick–well, minus the buses, anyway. Peep it.
From chapter 10, “Walk Like a Woman”
In the face of my driver’s license deficiency and an abhorrence for the close body contact [ahem] prevalent on most Metro systems, I’ve learned through pluck and circumstance to use the legs God gave me. People, I’ve walked across state lines–multiple times–without getting winded or wreathed. Never thinking twice about the damage being caused by the thinning skin above my smallest three toes until it was too late. I average five, maybe six miles a day without even trying. Pedometers are for [censored].
Except for the lack of driver’s license (I do, in fact, have one) and the distaste for transit (um, hello!), this could totally be me. I am an absolute walking fool. Once, when I was pregnant with Chicklet, I talked Bus Nerd into walking from our home in the Central District to Pier 55 to catch the Water Taxi. After the ride, we walked from Seacrest Park all the way to Pepperdocks on Alki and, after a quick lunch with my brother, Joel, and some friends, all the way back. Did I mention that it was August? Nerd (a man who’d rather get there already than “enjoy the journey”) still hasn’t forgiven me.
Chicklet, it seems, is embracing her inheritance. Last week, when I declined to pick her up during our morning stroll to her preschool, my little chip off the big chick didn’t even protest. Instead she puffed out her chest, two-year old style, and announced, “Bus Chicks know how to walk!”
It’s been a minute since I’ve posted, and that’s too bad, ’cause there’s a lot of stuff I’ve been meaning to tell you about. For one thing, I’ve been hitting my stride busing with two babies (more on that later) and having many fun adventures with my little BCiTs. I’ve been expanding my Orca repertoire (more on that later as well) and meeting all kinds of interesting fellow riders. I’ve also been collecting cool and funny bus and train photos that folks–OK, mostly Bus Nerd–have sent me over the past few weeks.
But all that will have to wait until after I tell you about (Does linking to a press release count as “telling”?)* the initiative Mayor McGinn announced today: Walk Bike Ride. Here’s what the Seattle.gov has to say about it:
We are at a turning point in transportation. We cannot sustain the financial, environmental and health costs of a transportation system that is overly reliant on automobiles. We need a new balanced approach that creates a transition. We are prepared to commit to that path by prioritizing walking, biking and transit in how we use our streets, how we spend our dollars, and how we collaborate with county, state and federal governments. [Can I get an amen?]
Walk Bike Ride will:
• Create an equitable transportation system for all by providing more affordable travel choices
• Focus on the places where people want to be and add qualities that make them want to stay
• Prioritize right-of-way space to emphasize walking, biking and riding
We so need to do this. Thank you, Mayor McGinn, for showing leadership on an issue that is so important to the future of our city–and our planet. Here’s hoping it results in real changes in the way folks get around this town.
*There’s analysis and discussion of the details (what few are known at this point) over at STB.
As I’ve mentioned several (perhaps too many) times, one of things I love about our home is its proximity to many of our regular destinations. Who needs a car (or, for that matter, a gym membership) when so much of your life is within walking distance? If you remove commuting from the equation, we Chick-Nerds walk at least as much as we bus–probably more.
Case in point: Our pediatrician’s office is a mere block away. (As My Gail put it when she visited after Chicklet was born, “not much farther than a trip across a parking lot.”) This is reassuring and convenient, and I can’t think of anything* I’d rather live a block away from.
So it was appropriate that last week, after we walked our baby Busling to the doctor for his two-month check up, I found this at the registration desk:
A walking map? Of my neighborhood? Whaaat you say!
In addition to the basic street and landmark information, this handy little resource** shows all of the bus stops, bike routes, Zipcar locations, and staircases (helpful for folks who travel with strollers or wheelchairs) in the area. It estimates how long walking trips between popular destinations will take, lists phone numbers to city offices where you can report problems (hello!), and even provides a little neighborhood history.
Next up: Ped-friendly maps for mobile devices.
*Well, except perhaps the library, and we live even closer to it.
**As a walking veteran, I have a lot of this information in my head already, but it’s nice to have it all laid out in a handy, portable pamphlet.