My bicycle is broken. It’s not all that devastating as I have the luxury of fixing my bike at the FM Community Bicycle Workshop. Until I get there, it became necessary that I find an alternate mode of transportation to and from work. I can take the car to work. And I am sure I will from time to time. But in the meantime…I’ll ride the bus!
Though I’ve lived in Moorhead for over four years, I hadn’t boarded a city bus until Try Transit Week this fall. My husband often takes our kids on bus adventures and was eager to take me through his version of Rider Orientation 101.
1) Arrive early. The buses are generally on time.
2) Know your route. Don’t expect to get coddled by the busdriver!
3) Take social cues from other riders. Electronic devices mean “Don’t talk to me!”
I was ready! Day 1 on the bus was a breeze. I followed all of the rules and arrived at work and home at scheduled times. The experience on Day 2 was a different story altogether.
Though I was running late, my sense of confidence swelled within me and I leisurely strode the quarter mile toward the bus stop. About a block from my pick up point, I watched the bus come and go. I was shocked. And soon, I realized, I would be cold. I quickly made the decision to walk to work instead of waiting another 30 minutes for the next bus. Skirt and black boots and all.
As I approached an elementary school, I observed several crossing guards goofing around. I pondered for a moment about how I grew up in such a small community, there wasn’t need for patrol. I slowed down my brisk pace as I neared the guards. They were blowing their whistles and I assumed this was an indication they intended to protect my ability to cross safely.
I was wrong. I was so wrong. As I crossed, one of the guards muttered, “maam…,” softly and then her voice trailed off. Before I knew it, an irate mother pulled over, rolled down her window, looked at me and said, “You are being so rude! You need to wait for their signal! It was the car’s turn to go, not yours!” With that, the angry mom sped away. I couldn’t move. I was shocked. Dumbfounded. Admittedly, I didn’t know the rules of the crossing patrol as I don’t have children in school and I haven’t experienced “patrol” firsthand. The fact that pedestrians’ right to cross didn’t trump motor vehicles in this situation still astounds me.
You know what, though? I know their procedure now. I got back on the horse for Day 3 of riding the bus, head held high as I approached the school near my bus stop. I waited cautiously as the guards protected my path, crossed safely and proceeded to miss my bus…again. This time, I was properly dressed for the cool fall weather and armed with my iPod. As I listened to my Audiobook from Lake Agassiz Digital Library, I observed the crossing guards work their magic maneuvers to direct and divert traffic and pedestrians seamlessly.
On Day 4, I consider myself a pro. Professional bus commuter and professional school crosswalker. Riding the bus “holds the space” for me. It allows me to transition from home to work in an actively engaged way and I am thankful for the guards protecting my morning commute as well.