Friday, April 15, 2011


Gonna pull out my soapbox today. Feelin' a little pedantic.

PARK YOUR DAMN CAR. Listen, let me point out clearly, proudly, and a little bit smugly that I haven't had a car in close to six years. Don't want it, don't need it. I lived in Seattle for five years before moving to Philadelphia, and they've got a decent bus system out there (and it is bus only, as subways in a seismically active area seem like a bad idea to most folks). But Philly? Philly has AMAZING public transit (for America). Stop laughing. I'm totally serious.

You've been on the subway. There's nothing wrong with admitting it. I enjoy the subway immensely. It's SO fast. SO direct. When I started with Capogiro I was living in Kensington (shudder) and working at 13th Street (whee!) and it was an unbelievably easy commute. Granted, there are drawbacks to the subway. There are a few stations which smell distinctly and reliably of bum pee; I won't try to argue otherwise. And apparently SEPTA thinks that no one has any reason to be out of the house after midnight. But subways are just cool. I had family visit from West Virginia last summer and they had a blast. I mean c'mon, it's this shiny train that tears along underground--and you're allowed to stand up! Favorite part of the subway? After Phillies wins. Everyone piles onto the BSL cheerful and drunk and sometimes a little sunburned and just generally happy and goofy. And then we all stumble into City Hall and irritate the commuters who had to work all day! LOVE IT.

Ah...trolleys. So quaint! Definitely a trolley guy now that I live in West Philly. Seriously, they're so old-fashioned in the greatest possible way. They're electric! And they run on rails! And they don't have steering wheels! Not so good for sight-seeing, but you know what? The plethora of individual seating on trolleys MORE than makes up for it. Had a moment a couple of weeks ago--was heading downtown to meet my peeps for our weekly manager meeting after a hideous night at work. It was an ugly, cold, drizzly morning. I was crazy-tired and more than a little cranky (still had the stitches in my hand). So I get on the trolley...there's an open single seat. I can sit all by myself. Plopped down, then my ipod decided it was a fortuitous time to play Velvet Underground's "Rock and Roll." PUT THAT ISH ON REPEAT, YO. Twenty minute sorta-nap later and I'm feeling way better. Could you have that commute in a car in this town? No. No you cannot. If nothing else, driving with your eyes closed is a poor idea. We would all appreciate it if you would drive with your eyes open.

Which leads us to...the bus. Don't you dare insult it. Call it the "loser cruiser," and you and I are gonna have words. The bus is humble. The bus is time-honored. The bus is iconic. Get on a bus at 5:30 in the afternoon and you'll realize how important it is to how many people. Like I said, Seattle was basically a bus-only town, so I'm intimately familiar with riding a city bus--the ins and outs, like it's okay (even expected) for the bus to be 10 minutes late, but two minutes early is inexcusable, or that... yes, ma'am. I may be tired as hell, but you're noticeably pregnant/old/more an old man than an old ma' can have my seat. And I'm going to give the stinkeye to all the people that you had to walk past to get to me, the one guy apparently who is going to give up his seat to someone who needs it more. And the bus truly, genuinely is a great way to see the city. Big windows. Leisurely pace. Relaxed attitude. When my friend from LA came to visit me in Seattle, he wanted to rent a car. (Los Angelenos. Sigh.) HELL to the no, I said. We're taking the bus all weekend. He was taken aback when I met him at the airport and walked him to the bus stop instead of the parking garage. Then one night we walked a block from my house...and caught a bus that dropped us off pretty much outside the door of the restaurant at which we had reservations. Had a CRAZY good dinner (Tom Douglas' Lola)...crossed the street, got back on the bus a little loaded, and rode home, cheerful, boisterous, totally commandeering the back of the bus. Great night. Respect the bus.

Since I've been in Philly's all about the bike. Anticipate a post on riding in Philly sooner than later: I am the guy that relieves stress by riding in traffic, though I know my friends think it equally odd and reckless. Got to go on a GREAT ride yesterday--had been holding off due to concern about how my recently repaired hand was going to hold up. I can happily report that the hand is fine. The butt...not so much. Totally to be expected.

And the TRAIN. OMG. I took AMTRAK fully across the country last year. Loved it. LOVED IT. Yeah, I'll post on that, too. But look...park the damn car. There are other easier, less stressful, differently-minded ways to get around this town.

Huh. Made it through all of that without mentioning sustainability or environmentalism, too. How 'bout that?


  1. The AMTRAK post will be epic. Maybe a mini-series. Holding off until the depths of summer though--my trip was in the middle of winter, so all the pictures will seem like virtual air conditioning!

  2. Better be pictures!!! The only thing that kept that post from being absolutely perfect was a pic of you riding the bus...or the subway...or the trolly.