#GreatThingsThatHappenedOnTransit

a favorite children's book about transit
Using a bike as your main form of transportation is a part of a bigger conversation about what we plan on doing with our built environments (i.e. the cities and towns we live in). What is your vision for what the world will look like in 10, 20, even 50 years? How will we get around? What will our neighborhoods look like? Will we have addressed our pollution and climate changing emissions problems and how? However you answer these questions, might be your vision for the future.

One person of our day that is said to be a visionary is is Elon Musk. The man behind such ambitious and impressive endeavors as Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, and a  promoter of the ideas like the Hyperloop. He is the kind of visionary who often gets a pretty big stage to talk about his ideas for the future. This week he ran a foul of the urbanist/active transportation field when we was quoted by Wired speaking disdainfully about mass transit. His comments about how "painful" transit is and how you will probably be sitting next to a serial killer have lit Twitter ablaze with the response #GreatThingsThatHappenedOnTransit.

A review of the tweets with this hashtag will bring a smile to your face and probably tears to your eyes.




My own experiences of transit with two small children have brought plenty of opportunities to see great things. Rather than the struggle of getting strapped into car seats, the bus is a grand adventure full of awe and wonder. Our fellow travelers are also often delighted by their awe and wonder. We are also frequently graced with encounters with "bus-grandparents." Pace buses are frequented by a variety of people, but one group is the older population that are no longer able to use personal automobiles, for whatever reason. The older women that my boys charm on the bus enjoy learning about their adventures and sharing stories of their now middle-aged children. On one trip we were even given a jigsaw puzzle by one of these generous strangers.

Mass transit has real challenges and shortcomings. You can get stuck sitting next to someone who smells like they had smoked that last pack in a very small box. Or you can tragically leave your child's mythic "hippy hat" that they have worn like a lovey for the past 3 years on the bus when you lifted and carried your snoring child to the next connection. Some of the most terrible and intimidating are well documented in hashtags such as #stopstreetharassment. Despite these shortcomings, transit is quite frequently a beautiful churn of humanity. The #GreatThingsThatHappenedOnTransit thread is only the most recent collective sharing of these moments, but one only needs to step onto the bus or train to give it a chance.

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