I Shouldn’t Feel Like Wonder Woman

It’s Transit Equity Day, that day we remind our government that investing in mass transit matters for so many reasons, including:

  • Access to jobs (and being able to make it to daycare reliably, without late penalties);
  • Affordability (saving an estimated $10-12,000 per year that it costs to own and insure a motor vehicle, not including parking charges);
  • Health and wellness;
  • Climate improvements (this is not our children’s job);
  • Independence for all ages and abilities;
  • Even road-safety for people driving, riding bikes, walking and using wheelchairs as those who really should no longer be driving have options that keep them from being a danger to others.

Reduced waiting times (and dignified ways to wait, by the way, which means a covered, well-lit place to sit at bus stops — and my god, can we ever get a bathroom in a train station?), expanded routes, and dedicated bus lanes are a start.

I write about this a lot since I often combine bike riding with buses and trains (and am about to do that cross-country, and it’s already a saga). I’ve even had several recent multimodal challenges in the past two weeks, including a 40-minute head time when trying to combine a train and a bus in Midtown Atlanta to go to a meeting — I ended up riding my bike, which I usually have with me, in the pouring rain the 10 miles or so I intended to ride on the bus.

Fun facts: I made it to the meeting on time and had luckily brought waterproof clothes with me so I was relatively dry, but the isolated multi-use path I took (Freedom Parkway Path, where there is history of a sexual predator attacking women on bikes — here’s a GoPro capture of the time he chased me) was empty of other people because of the rain, which made it more dangerous for me as a woman alone. (By the way, I often take the bus or train not because it’s too far to ride my bike. I take it because the route for riding my bike is too dangerous. So let’s fix that, too, okay?) Here is a little video compilation from that day (filmed between rains), showing both a train and a different bus I did manage to catch on the way home:

Please follow on TikTok at SpeedofBike. I’m trying to get to 1,000 followers so I can go LIVE while reporting from cities across the USA via bikes, buses, trains and WWOOFing on organic farms as experiential research for my new book RoundAmericaWithADuck

I just don’t have the capacity to craft yet another blog post (although it appears I just did lol) or email or social media video about this right now (I got earrings to finish making). Just know that this topic matters.

If you don’t think it matters, perhaps you simply have not ridden a bus or train lately (and note that my informal poll when PeopleForBikes asked me to do a 48-hour Instagram takeover indicated that 69% of people on bikes had never combined bikes and buses — those poll results as well as my TikTok of MARTA bus driver Anthony showing how to use the bike rack on the front of the bus are still up as story highlights on the PeopleForBikes Ridespot account on Instagram). Maybe give it a try? Twenty years of people fighting at meetings are avoided by 20 minutes of lived experience. Just 5 minutes on a bike, especially with a loved one, delivers the same result, by the way. The challenges are immediately evident.

I shouldn’t feel like Wonder Woman any time I’m able to make it somewhere safely and on time via mass transit. It should just feel normal.

I had left my bike at the transit station this day. Seemed like a mistake as this bus took over an hour to arrive. However, if I had ridden my bike, I would have ridden it illegally since the roads are dangerous (despite this city’s Bicycle Friendly Community designation, where I did not see one other person riding a bike or walking for miles) and I would have ridden my bike on the sidewalk out of necessity and this city considers it a crime to do so. Please see my post about the only city in the State of Georgia that has decriminalized this act of self-preservation, with priority for those walking and using wheelchairs.

Having the legal option to use the sidewalk is absolutely necessary when the government fails to provide safe, equitable access or tries to greenwash what it has provided (see my blog post titled The Width of a Prius for what qualifies for that League of American Bicyclists certification). In general, no bike rider prefers to do this as it presents additional and different dangers, is very uncomfortable (especially with skinnier tires and for those with joint pain), and results in a 40% time tax due to the need to ride more slowly to navigate blind spots and driveways, the need to stop and push “beg buttons”at intersections even if the flow of road traffic in the direction you are going “has the light” because the crosswalk often doesn’t (this is especially difficult for those with mobility limitations if putting their foot down constantly is painful), and the need to step aside and wait for people walking to pass you.

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