T is for transportation: bus, bike

At least a couple times a week, I see a guy bearing right at me.

Early in October, I needed to get back from my hometown of Binghamton, NY back to my home in Albany in order to see The Color Purple at Proctors Theatre in nearby Schenectady. I stopped at the nice newish transportation hub in Binghamton, which had been spruced up a whole lot since I last took a bus out of Binghamton.

Unfortunately, it closed at 9:45 p.m., and I was there at 10:30. Worse, when I got online, I discovered that the bus I wanted, which leaves at 4:15 a.m.(!), was sold out.

Still, my friend got up at 3:15 to take me to the bus station; now THAT is a true pal. A bus heading for Syracuse, north, but a couple hours west of Albany, shows up around 4:15. The last time I needed to buy a ticket when the station was closed I would buy it from the driver.

Apparently, the procedure now is that he holds my ID, drives me to Syracuse, and THEN I buy a ticket for the trip I’ve already taken, and get my ID back. Then I buy a ticket for the bus from Syracuse to Albany, which was showing up at 6:30, only a half hour after I arrived; cool.

Syracuse has an even nicer transportation hub. I could have caught the train from there, if necessary.

I liked this: a young woman was heading back to college in western Massachusetts from Rochester, west of Syracuse. Unfortunately, she overslept and missed her bus. Fortunately, her father drove her the nearly 90 miles from Rochester to Syracuse in the middle of the night. She was very appreciative.
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When I ride my bike, I ride along the right side of the road, the way I am supposed to. At least a couple times a week, I see a guy bearing right at me, because he’s going on the left side, usually going the wrong way on a one-way street to boot.

Almost every time this happens, he yells, “You’re on the wrong side!” To which I yell back, “You are incorrect.” Short of throwing page 91 of the New York State driver’s manual, which reads, “Where there is [no bicycle lane, bicyclists] must remain near the right curb or edge of the road or on a right shoulder of the road, to prevent interference with other traffic,” there’s not much I can do.

For ABC Wednesday

The waiting is the hardest part

I’ve had TERRIBLE experiences when others have dropped me off later than I asked, ESPECIALLY at the airport.

Ken Levine wrote a blogpost recently indicating that one of his quirks is that he hates to keep people waiting. A fair amount of this is true for me as well, but not all of it.

“I am almost always on time.” Well, that’s not true of me, and even less so since I’ve been a father. But it does still aggravate me.

“I’d much rather be early than late.” That’s accurate. And especially at the movies, where my night blindness is acute. It was a decade or more ago when I got to a movie after the previews started and I attempted to sit where there was no seat; it was a carveout for a wheelchair. And. believe me, the lateness was NOT my idea.

“The fact that I’M keeping them waiting drives me crazy.” Very true.

“I’m one of those crazy people that will text saying I’m running two minutes behind.” No, I don’t text.

“When I get on a plane I can’t throw my bag in the overhead compartment and take my seat fast enough. Knowing I’m holding up thirty people while I adjust my carry-on makes my heart palpitate.” Not heart palpitating, but I’m keenly aware of this. The last time I was on a bus, I threw my stuff in the bin, then after the bus started rolling, I got out the stuff I wanted.

“When I’m at a checkout stand, I don’t take five minutes to count my change, rearrange the credit cards in my wallet, etc.” That’s me for certain.

“If I’m at a fast-food place I don’t wait until I get to the counter to look at the menu and decide what I want.” This is one of the few things that annoys me about other people. I mean, when they’re in line for four minutes on their device and they’re suddenly surprised that they’re in the front of the line and have to make a decision.

“And when there’s a long line at the bank I don’t ask the teller to show me the new designs they have available for checks.” I so seldom actually use a teller, this is not applicable. In the bank branch in my work building, there’s almost never a line.

“When the light is green I GO.” Here’s something my wife notices I do on the bicycle: I usually stop at the rear of the two lines at the intersection. When the other light turns yellow, I start rolling forward slowly, but not into the crosswalk, because some last-minute car might be plowing through. But I’m trying to keep the car facing me from making a left in front of me without actually getting myself killed.

“When I’m in TSA lines I take my computer out before I get to the conveyor belt. And I have my ID and boarding pass ready.” Absolutely. And in general, I’m really early for any form of mass transportation. I’ve had TERRIBLE experiences when others have dropped me off later than I asked, ESPECIALLY at the airport.

“I don’t know whether it’s common courtesy or an unhealthy obsession. But I do know this: I wish more people had it.” I tend to agree.

The Lydster, Part 138: Dining in public with an infant

I have an odd fascination with that story about the mom whose encounter with an angry Maine diner owner went viral.

Without rehashing the whole thing, I was taken by this sentence in the mom’s version: “When the food came, my daughter was still fussing.” After extensive observation, I’ve discovered that parents have very different criteria for what constitutes “fussing,” and moreover, whether to stay or go.

I’ve decided that there are two types of parents of children `who are under two years old: those who don’t think other people would mind a little bit of adorable noise because ADORABLE, and those who are mortified by their child’s disruption. Maybe it’s because we became parents relatively late, but the Wife, and especially I, are most assuredly in the latter category.

The first time The Wife and I decided to go out to dinner after the Daughter was born was when she was six months old, give or take a couple weeks. She had been nursed before we went to a nice Vietnamese restaurant in Albany. She seemed fine in one of those car seat carriers.

Very soon after we were seated, the Daughter began wailing. Maybe it sounded like wailing to us because the stone floor was very echoey, but as it didn’t seem to stop, even as we took turns holding her. We left, leaving an enormous tip for a couple cups of tea.

Seems we went somewhere else to eat – McDonald’s? – and she was cheerful.

I told The Daughter this story about herself fairly recently. She felt badly about it, which was NOT the intent.

We avoided taking a transcontinental trip to Washington state when she was two, because she didn’t travel always well in the car, where we could control the environment. Surely, I didn’t want us to be those parents all the passengers glowered at for hours.

U for USA’s obsession with the car (Five Photos, Five Stories #2)

ChevroletI’m reading my email one insomniac night when I see this Quora question: Why is jaywalking a crime in the US but not in the UK? One lengthy response from a guy named Tom Chambers:

Because jaywalking is a crime invented by the car industry in the early 20th century. It wasn’t the legislative response to an inevitable problem, but essentially a publicity campaign to increase car use in the US.

Prior to jaywalking becoming a popular term and crime, pedestrians were assumed to have the right to the road. If there was an accident, popular opinion and the media would be on the side of the pedestrian and assume the fault of the driver.

The motor industry recognised that this was an impediment to driving and set out to make the street a place for cars not people. They lobbied for various laws to prevent people from crossing other than at a designated point, but people were so against this that it failed to be effectively enforced.

What worked much better was public ridicule.

The American love affair with cars was no accident, confirmed Scientific American. “Schools helped train new generations of children to avoid the streets when the American Automobile Association (AAA) became the top supplier of safety curriculum for U.S. schools in the 1920s,” As a result, there is a deep-seated bias in transportation decision making that can be traced “all the way back to the dawn of the automotive era.”

But the deal wasn’t sealed until 1961, and one can blame, or credit, Groucho Marx:

It was on Sunday night [October 22] when NBC aired a program called “Merrily We Roll Along”—promoted as “the story of America’s love affair with the automobile.” During the show, host Groucho Marx introduced the “love affair” metaphor to millions of viewers, casting cars as “the new girl in town.” To make this love work, Marx explained, Americans were willing to overcome intrusive regulations, endure awful traffic jams, and if necessary, redesign entire cities.

“We don’t always know how to get along with her, but you certainly can’t get along without her,” said Marx. “And if that isn’t marriage, I don’t know what is.”

[The show] was less a story about America’s existing love affair with the car than the invention of that very idea. The show’s sponsor, DuPont, had an obvious interest: it owned 23 percent of General Motors at the time. [It was] a “masterstroke of public relations” manufactured by the car industry to counter the likes of… critics who, at the dawn of the interstate highway era, questioned the wisdom of dedicating every inch of urban street space to personal vehicles.

This perhaps explains why people choose cars, even when mass transit would serve them better. But the American love affair with the motor car may be running on empty, with “baby boomers… giving up the suburbs for communities with more travel choices, [and] younger adults… delaying getting a driver’s license and, when they do, they are not buying cars or using them as much. Instead, they are embracing new forms of ‘collaborative consumption’ – sharing vehicles through car-share and bike-share programmes.”

Personally, I think this is a terrific trend. Now if I can only walk across the street, or ride my bike without possibly getting killed…
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Note: I have been nominated by my buddy Lisa over at Peripheral Perceptions to participate in the Five Photos, Five Stories meme, which simply says I should post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

The problem is that almost all my posts are stories and have pictures. So I’m cheating and writing only one new post. And I’m nominating YOU!

ABC Wednesday – Round 16

Historic US Route 20

“In New York State, 108 miles of Route 20 from Duanesburg (Schenectady County) on the east to LaFayette (Onondaga County) on the west is designated as a New York State Scenic Byway because of its spectacular beauty and unique history to the westward migration of the state and the nation. “

20_PostcardThe federal highway that is the longest in the United States was developed well before the Interstate system. That is Route 20, which starts in Boston, Massachusetts, and ends in Newport, Oregon.

About three years ago, a fellow named Bryan T. Farr decided to drive the length of the highway, which he found to be quite beautiful, as he trekked through a dozen states. After he returned, he took no action about this experience for over a year, but he realized that he had to either do something with the hundreds of photos he took, or move on.

He ended up starting The Historic US Route 20 Association Inc., a 501 (c)3 nonprofit, educational organization. Moreover, he wrote a book, Historic US Route 20. Ambitiously, he decided to make another trip across the country, contacting towns along the way to see if they might be willing to set up some meet-and-greets.

When he got to the Sharon Springs area, the powers that be decided to add him to the schedule of the annual Sharon Springs Garden Party. The intermittent rain held off long enough for him to give his talk on May 24. The Wife and I just happened to be there for the event, and that was the only special talk that day we actually attended.

The next day, we, along with The Daughter, went to the Cherry Valley Museum. Among the factors in its history is the decision by the state in 1952 to have Route 20 bypass the village, which was economically devastating at the time. The Historic US 20 group, not incidentally, is working with locales to provide signage, even if the road was relocated. Later that day, we drove home along much of Route 20 and saw some tornado damage in Duanesburg, Schenectady County from a few days earlier.

I recall that Western Avenue, around Manning Boulevard, began the Great Western Turnpike. And it’s lovely:

US Route 20 is also New York State’s longest highway; 372 miles from the border with Massachusetts to the border of Pennsylvania.
In New York State, 108 miles of Route 20 from Duanesburg (Schenectady County) on the east to LaFayette (Onondaga County) on the west is designated as a New York State Scenic Byway because of its spectacular beauty and unique history to the westward migration of the state and the nation.

The First Presbyterian Church in Cherry Valley is the first church west of the Hudson River to have services in English, which I only recently discovered on our trip there.

As it turns out, we live only a couple of blocks from Route 20 in Albany. I thought it would be neat if some of the merchants on Western Avenue and Madison Avenue in Albany, and on Route 20 in East Greenbush, had signs in their windows signifying that they are part of something greater.