Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dislike of public transport (first email)

I love public transport--eavesdropping on people'sconversations, people watching, sometimes making new(temporary) friendships. I would love to write anarticle about my favorite public transit stories, if Ionly knew who would publish it. So are the publictransit lovers the majority or the minority? Can weget more press about the benefits of public transit?And as to the need for rich and poor to mix in thecity, exactly. Having just finished reading the novelMary Barton, about how the distance between rich andpoor contributed to violence during bad times in thecotton mills in Manchester in the 1840s, we are nowobserving the exact same phenomenon here inBangladesh, with garment workers going on the rampage,furious that the owners own luxury cars and theworkers often don't get paid for two months, have towork 14-hour days 7 days a week, can be fired forarriving one minute late, etc. Someone recently toldme she won't let her 12-year-old son walk a few blocksbecause "everyone in the streets is bad". Of courseif I told the mill owners they should get out of theirBMWs and mix with their workers, they would laugh atme.I assume the only solution is to spread our message aswidely and diversely as we can, making sure toemphasize how different groups will benefit--eventhose rich car-owning factory owners who starve theirworkers... :-) (One of the approaches we're tryingis a report on how watching a lot of TV harmschildren, to try to convince the upper middleclass/rich of the need for quality outdoor play spacesfor kids; in our cycle training program, it's great tosee rich and poor kids interact, and I would hope thatit means those rich kids won't be quite so prejudicedagainst the slum dwellers who fix their bikes, but whoknows!)

Dislike of public transport (response)

(posted by Simon Baddeley in the carfree_cities list)
Nice thoughts, good practice. Power to your elbows, Debra.

You made me recall the moment described my Gaskell when a worker's
representative in Mary Barton realises that one of the people to whom
they are making a plea has been sketching them!

I bet you'd find a publisher for a book called "in transit". Otherwise
keep collecting the incidents. Make two or three line notes on each
with date and place and your memory and imagination can expand and
connect them later. Did I tell you about the time I was taken off a
train in Birmingham New Street by Transport Police for attempting to
incite passengers on an overcrowded train not to pay a first class
supplement after they'd found seat there. I didn't have to pay my
fare and eventually the company gave up after I'd begged them to take
me to court - something the better off can afford to risk.
Or shall I describe the time a few weeks ago when I entered a train
carrying a scythe (folded) after attending a scything course in
Somerset - what a theme for opening conversations with immediate
ribaldry about "grim reapers".

Or the time when I had a very smelly camembert or was it Chaum or
stinking Bishop on a journey from Paddington to Newbury.

Or the time on the train from NY to Philadelphia when a blind man sold
me a Braille guide on a ticket sized piece of cardboard and I showed
it to the inspector by mistake while continuing to read my book and he
started signing to me and I thought he'd gone mad...