Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Public Transportation: The Coffee Table Effect...

When I was a teen, a friend and I decided to take the bus to the mall one day. We waited a the stop for oh, lets just say quite a while. When the bus finally approached, the driver slowed, clearly saw us, and continued on without stopping. We were left standing there, gap mouthed and incredulous. It was one brief incident, left a sour taste in my mouth, once I had finished cursing, and has shaped my perception of public transit, or more specifically buses, ever since. That was the late '70s remember, so it has been a while. I have taken rail on many occasions - Gold Line, Red, Blue - I have been happy to leave the car behind. But buses, have just never been an attractive option since that day. Interactions with dangerous drivers of said vehicles, while out riding over the succeeding years, have not helped matters either. Even good encounters - I once had a supervisor offer me a lift when he saw me walking my bike with a flat tire - have failed to ease my ill-impressions. 

Of course it doesn't help that bus stops are among the most unattractive public spaces that you could ever need to spend time at. A simple bench, and often not even that, on a busy street corner, cars speeding by, San Fernando Valley sun beating on you. I am sure you know the picture, or one very similar. And so it was with shock and awe, that I read this post on Good this morning, about what happens when you put a coffee table at a bus stop. Such a simple concept, such humanizing results. Not that they would last for any length of time, but, a transformative idea that shows what a little imagination can accomplish in even a small public space. New York has shown what can happen in large spaces (Times Square Pedestrian Plaza); now this. Urban areas need not be uninviting. 

1 comment:

  1. hEADS uP city Manager Report for 7/21:

    Ron Durgin, President of Sustainable Streets, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation located in Los Angeles, and with a mission of building healthy communities by encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in active transportation for their everyday mobility needs, recently presented a presentation that proposes the implementation of Bicycle Priority Zones (BPZ) around each and every one of Los Angeles County’s college campuses. His proposal calls for development of BPZs to be implemented within a two-mile radius of the county colleges’ campuses. This concept was inspired by the City of Claremont BPZ model. The following link will take you to Mr. Durgin’s Power Point presentation:


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