Tag Archives: Boston

Busing (and biking) with baby(ies) in Boston

For those of you who are interested in car-free parenting stories, I highly, highly recommend Car Free with Kids, a blog written by Angela and Dorea Vierling-Claassen, two mathematicians and bike/bus/T chicks who are raising a child (soon to be two!) without a car. In a recent post about surviving car-free babyhood, they almost perfectly described my feelings on the subject.

So if it really is this hard, why do it? Why do the work of navigating pregnancy, babyhood and toddlerhood (perhaps several times) without a car? What, exactly, is the payoff? The payoff is a life in which your entire family is firmly integrated in your local neighborhood and your child isn’t made to sit still, strapped in, as you drive endless mindless miles from one thing to the next. The neighbors you meet as you are out walking or regularly frequenting the local park (because it is so close, and you can’t really drive to the nicer one a little farther away), become the friends that you call when your whole family is throwing up, but you are out of pedialyte and soda crackers. And if you are already a person who loves the freedom and independence of biking and minimal dependence on a car, isn’t that something you want to share with your kid(s)? Life changes when kids come into the picture, but you don’t have to leave what matters to you behind. Better to keep the things you love and are proud of, and include your children, even if it’s a little inconvenient at first.

I couldn’t have said it better–except that I don’t think it’s that hard. Well, maybe sometimes. There are days when I come home and complain to Bus Nerd about particular struggles, which generally involve errands with Chicklet or attempts to visit far-flung friends.* I tend to start my rants by saying something like, “I don’t regret our choice to live this way and don’t want to change it, but … daaaaaaaaaaang!” Nerd usually gives me his “What’s the big deal?” look (sometimes he even says, “So what’s the big deal?”), and I eventually get over it.

From now on, I’ll just check in with Angela and Dorea when I need some encouragement.

* An example: My friend Sundee, a fellow biracial, left-handed, writer, mom, and Good Shepherd member, lives in unincorporated King County, also known as Land of No Buses–or sidewalks, for that matter. I have to rent a Zipcar (which involves reserving the one car that’s within walking distance–assuming it’s available–and then schlepping Chicklet and her car seat the three plus blocks to pick it up) every time I want to visit her, so it doesn’t happen very often. I’m all for sticking with what’s in your neighborhood, but–unlike dry cleaners and video stores–friends aren’t interchangeable.

Still more on bus chicks in training

My friend Monique, although hardly a minor, is a BCiT in her own right. In March, she moved from transit-unfriendly Houston to Boston to accept a year-long contract position that advanced her career and satisfied her taste for adventure. Since it’s not a permanent job, and since she owns a home in Houston, she’s subletting a cool apartment in South Boston and getting around by bus, train, foot, and, very occasionally, Zipcar. (Boston, as some of you might know, is the home of Zipcar.)

Transit-based living agrees with Monique. She loves her walkable neighborhood and the freedom and financial benefits of getting around without a car. (She does, however, admit that she might not be as enthusiastic had she made the move in January.)

Unlike most transit types, who swear by faster, more reliable trains, Monique actually prefers the street-level option. (Would that we Seattleites had the choice!) Says Moni, “I prefer the bus to the subway because it allows me to learn and see the city and connect how all the neighborhoods relate to each other.” Apparently so. She is already amazing Boston natives with her impressive knowledge of the city.

Even with all the looking around, Monique still finds time to read on her rides. She’s finished several books that have been on her “list” for years, including one of my all-time favorites, White Teeth. (Wonder if any Boston librarians are keeping track?)

Those of you who read my Real Change column might remember Monique from her advice for avoiding unwanted bus macks. Her advice hasn’t served her well so far, as she’s been the recipient of more than her share, including several of the far more rare bus driver macks. One driver, who finishes his shift at around the same time she leaves her office, has taken such a fancy to her that he provides door-to-door service, dropping her off in front of her building on his way back to base.

Two months as a bus chick and she’s chartering buses? The woman could teach me a thing or two.

A Boston bus chick
Moni on MBTA