OK, so this is now my second day of not riding the bus. I might be failing this experiment, but I really didn’t go anywhere to day. I didn’t leave the apartment except to walk my dog. I didn’t need to. I stayed at home and did reading and research. 

Well, there is a missing detail here. We needed some ingredients for dinner and my girlfriend decided to drive to the store while I walked the dog. Usually I would go with her to the grocery store, so I did cheat by having my girlfriend get food, allowing me to stay home. 

I wish I could convince my girlfriend to ride the bus. She says it makes her feel nauseated with all the sudden stops and starts and the quick turns. I feel nauseated on the newer buses that smell like off-gassing plastics and don’t have fresh air flowing through them. The bus just isn’t a pleasant experience for her. The book Jake and I are reading this week questions how transit people can fix that problem. How do you design transit to be unique and enriching? How do you design transit that is joyful for riders? Intercity Transit seems very, very far from that lofty goal. It is a very utilitarian transit system. 

While I might not have been supporting the bus aspect of the experiment, I can defend my actions in terms of sustainability. I was merely supporting one of Washington State’s Commute Trip Reduction programs, work from home! In other words, if I’m not getting into a car to travel by myself somewhere, I’m doing better than average. What is more efficient than taking a bus, bicycle, or walking somewhere? Not going there at all if I don’t have to! What a wonderful place this would be if people stayed put more often? Usually that sentiment is applied to people moving from house to house, city to city, state to state. What if it were applied to a more quotidian existence? What would it be like if most of the people in a neighborhood worked in the same area where they lived? How would that affect our sense of place? How would that affect geographic loyalties? My thought is that the greatest fear of many smart, “worldly” people is becoming “provincial,” or ignorant. I strongly believe that a person can have geographic fidelity and be wise to what’s going on outside their area. 

Of course travel cannot be prohibited or restricted. After all, Article 13 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights reads: “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any county, including his own, and to return to his country.” I agree with that. But I also wish people would care more about where they live. 

Traveling less is probably about as popular as encouraging people to have fewer children.