As per usual, this last installment didn’t go quite where I expected it. I have learned SO much about commuting over the last 8 ½ weeks. My one piece of advice to part to you? No matter how you’re traveling the world – Think Selflessly.
It’s important that we all obey traffic laws – pedestrians, bikers, motorists – it’s both for safety and for the movement of people. Last week, I witnessed a motorist trying to make a left turn who was frustrated by his inability to get across both lanes, so he stopped the first lane of traffic while he waited for an opening in the second lane. He became increasingly frustrated by the traffic congestion, but what he didn’t see was that his choice to cut off one whole lane actually backed up a signaled intersection in two directions.
Similarly, I often see pedestrians ignore the walk signals or “No Pedestrian” signs. Sure, as a pedestrian we often think that we have Right of Way, but the simple act of crossing when your sign is red can send a whole lane of traffic backing up for several blocks. Why can I cross this intersection on three sides but not this one? Maybe because now you’re holding up a left turn lane. It’s hard to see while you’re a part of it, but these little decisions can have a big impact.
Cyclists, frustrated by lack of bike lanes or appropriate parking, will ride in the middle of the road or cross lanes of traffic – a dangerous undertaking with so many distracted drivers on the road these days.
Sometimes we’re focused only on our own reality and convenience, but it’s important to remember that rules of the road exist for everyone’s success. Instead of thinking about what it will take to get ME to my destination, think instead about how you may fit into the big picture- the world moving around you.
- While trying to get pictures for the blog, my favorite Amtrak conductor caught me trying to sneak his picture two days in a row. Apparently this was a bit too creepy. He refused to look me in the eye and our relationship was markedly less friendly for a few days until I put my camera away. Worry not, we have since reconciled.
- After hopping on an unmarked Krapf A Express bus by accident, I proceeded to get off at the wrong stop and had to walk ¾ of a mile along Business 30 while carrying two bags full of bike parts and using high knees since the wildflowers were unkempt. Somehow this was interesting enough to command cat calls from onlookers, which made me wonder which of us was more awkward.
- Watching a business traveler tear through his bags in a panic trying to find exact change to ride the bus, then handing him a SEPTA token so he could board. His gratitude was palpable, and I felt like a Transportation Ambassador.
- Feeling like a rockstar on Day 58 as an elderly couple watched me in awe at the train station break down and lock up my foldable bike in 90 seconds. On Day 1 this process took me approximately 5 ½ minutes and a lot of pinched fingers.
- My morning tradition of greeting the cows eating in the pasture on my way to the train. At first the sound of my electric bike made them jump back as I rode by. Now they just look up at me and continue chewing.
In case it is not obvious-I would do this again. In fact, it was so rewarding that I recommend it to anyone who would like to see the world in a new way and make a difference in the environment. Between train, bus, rideshare, bike, and telecommuting I saved just shy of 2500 pounds of CO2 emissions. If 10% of Chester County commuters tried this for even a week, the environmental impact would be substantial and the roads would be noticeably less congested.
We’re all in this together – let’s all choose to make a positive change.
Shannon Maria Jones is TMACC’s Manager of Member Services. She’s a resident of West Sadsbury Township, Chester County where she lives with her husband Jasen and their rescued dog, Sadie. An avid traveler, Shannon navigates public transit when overseas or in urban areas, but has rarely used public transportation as part of her daily commute. Slightly obsessed with “Super Size Me” and Morgan Spurlock’s series “30 Days” she is perhaps too excited about what this challenge will bring in terms of personal growth.
If you would like to re-publish this blog, or ask Shannon any questions about her commute please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.