No one walks in Edmonds | Art & Appetite

By James Spangler | May 22, 2017

I learned to drive when I was 13, and have been driving almost every day since. I recently decided to conduct a little experiment: Could I go carless? Is it even possible to function without a car in an this autocentric world? Two months into my little experiment, I can provide a general summary.

The first thing I noticed is there are almost no pedestrians. Very few people walk anywhere anymore. People actually coming into contact with pavement seem to be either homeless, walking their dogs, exercising or banished smokers.

Everyone else drives. Our culture is heavily invested in the automobile.

I decided to track down the bus. I found it to be clean, dry, warm and comfortable. It's generally on time, give or take a few minutes.

I estimate that I’m saving a little over $600 a month by going sans auto, even after factoring in the $2.25 I pay each time I board the bus. I also get a warm fuzzy feeling from the fact that my carbon footprint has become a mere trace of its former plodding, gas-guzzling self. Also in the plus column? The annoying 10,000-step counter on my smartphone shows that I'm getting actual exercise.

Being able to relax and let someone else do the driving after years of hauling kids around as a single parent is an unexpected added benefit. I can read, or plug my headphones in and enjoy ten or fifteen minutes of musical oblivion – that's pretty close to heaven in my book.

What sort of deadbeats and miscreants do you find on these buses? Here’s an example or two – the woman caring for your grandmother at the memory care facility; the young man who served your lunch today; the person who checked out your groceries; the paraeducator caring for the disabled child.

Also present are the elderly, students and large numbers of physically and mentally challenged folks. In other words, the hardworking poor and those who have no other transportation options. I have this radical belief that these folks shouldn’t pay much, if anything, for their rides. Wanna get cars off the road? Cut bus fares in half.

My little experiment has convinced me of a couple of things.

Mass transit is a great option that more of us should be taking advantage of, or at the very least actively advocating for on behalf of those who use and need it. If more folks were to climb aboard, routes and hours could be expanded.

I also believe that it’s disgraceful when park-and-ride lots are full by 7 a.m. where they exist at all. The failure to develop workable parking options for the Sounder – a need as obvious as the nose on my face – is an outrage that guarantees disappointing results and more crowded freeways.

Can that be an accident? I doubt it, but I can't figure out who benefits from poor mass transit. Not me, and not you either, I would venture to guess.



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