Thursday Things

1. To my great surprise, I had the chance to continue my exploration of the CTA’s Historic Fleet earlier this week with buses!

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The historic bus display hadn’t been even half as publicized as the historic train trips around the Loop, but I happened to see a post from the CTA about it on Twitter, so off I went.

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The buses obviously aren’t quite as historic as the train I saw in June, but it was still cool to get on them and see how things have changed. I found the seats particularly interesting, since they seemed to be the same sort of seats you find on school buses (at least, the buses smelled like school buses, so I assume the seat coverings are similar). Nowadays, the seats on CTA buses are a lot nicer! But we don’t have decorative mid-century stars on the walls anymore, either, so I guess you win some and lose some.

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I appreciate the CTA’s commitment to preserving part of its history via the Historic Fleet, and I even more appreciate the agency allowing nerds like me to see the fleet first hand. Buses and trains seem like such uninteresting, basic things, but seeing the historic vehicles really helps you see how much transportation has evolved in a relatively short period of time. It gives you a much greater appreciation for the technology we have now when you can actually see the development that’s taken place. Or at least, it makes me appreciate the buses and trains we have now a lot more.

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2. On Friday, my “team” at work (by which I mean everyone else who reports to my boss and me, since I no longer have a team) is having its (first, to my knowledge) annual summer outing. I got talked into being on the planning committee for these outings, which consists of me and four other people who all live in the suburbs and work in my company’s suburban office. When we first started tossing around ideas, I had one request: that wherever we pick be easily accessible by public transportation because I, not having a car, am highly dependent upon pubic transportation to get from Point A to Point B.

Unfortunately, my suburban counterparts do not understand the plight of the urban dweller, and, despite my (extremely small, barely made) protestations, have scheduled our event to take place in WOOD DALE. While Wood Dale is, indeed, accessible via Metra train, the only area particularly accessible via Metra train is the area within the immediate vicinity of said Metra train stop. Our event is nearly three miles from that train stop, with nary a non-rush hour bus to take a person from the stop to, well, anywhere else, it seems. When you tell Google you want to get from my office location to our event (which starts at 1 p.m.), it gives you the option of arriving at 9 a.m. or 4 p.m., but no other time in between. NOT HELPFUL.

The whole thing just irks me. I mean, the event sounds fun, and only having to be in the office for a half day also sounds fun, but I feel like suburbanites just do not understand what it’s like to live without a car. I get that it’s an inconvenience for all of them to come into the city, and since less than a quarter of those attending the event live in the city, I understand why it’s more fair to make the Chicagoans go to the ‘burbs than it is to make the suburbanites come into the city. But getting to this event isn’t just an inconvenience for me. It’s an impossibility. Using my typical mode of transportation, I literally cannot get to the party, and I really get the impression that this is incomprehensible to people whose day-to-day existence involves going to their garage, driving to where they need to go, parking in a lot, doing whatever it is they need to do at their destination, and then repeating the process in reverse.

What I initially expected to be an annoyance over my coworkers’ lack of empathy for my transportation situation quickly spiraled into outrage at the entire American way of living (you know, as one’s outrage does). Well, maybe not the entire American way of living, but the American way of living that worships the almighty motor vehicle. To be sure, cars are incredibly convenient ways of traveling, but I wish we viewed cars as more of an “as-needed” supplemental vehicle rather than a go-to vehicle (like the way I view the bus when it comes to the CTA. I’ll take a bus if it’s the only logical way to get somewhere, but if I have the option of taking a train, I will absolutely take the train every time). Think of how much better public transportation could be if governments could spend more infrastructure money expanding and enhancing train lines or bus routes instead of overhauling highways! Think of how much cleaner the air could be if we substantially reduced the number of people driving! Think of how much safer, and thus, how much more attractive of an option, it would be if roads were built from a bike-first perspective, catering to the needs of cyclists first and drivers second! Think of how much more time we could spend being active rather than sedentary if everyone lived within walking, running, or biking distance of their office, even in the suburbs!

Obviously, these are all pipe dreams. I’m under no impression that the car-first lifestyle is going anywhere, particularly outside of the confines of a major city where public transportation is a viable option. But one can dream!

3. AccuWeather is taking my emotions for a ride, and I do not appreciate it. I’m running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on Sunday, and I knew when I signed up for the race that the weather would likely be terrible. I fully expected the weather to be just as bad as it was in Nashville, although this time, being that this race is in mid-July, not late April, I planned on heat and humidity and have experienced it plenty of times over the past month and a half or so.

I know looking the forecast for a race as soon as it starts showing up on AccuWeather is useless, because anything more than 24-48 hours out is a guess at best, and will likely change several times before the day arrives. Nevertheless, I’ve kept an eye on the forecast for Sunday, and it has been ALL over the place. On Monday, they said a high of 77 and “delightful.” On Tuesday, they said a high of 84 and humid. On Wednesday at 7:45 a.m., they said a high in the 70s with a morning thunderstorm in the area (perfect), but by 9:15 a.m. that same day, had changed their tune to a high of 76 and “Not as warm with some sun.” What the heck, AccuWeather?? Pick a story and stick with it, darn it!

So who knows what will happen on Sunday. I’m just out there to get in a long run anyway, so I’ll take whatever I can get.

Who else is running Rock ‘n’ Roll on Sunday?

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7 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. The NSW tabular weather for Sunday has been pretty consistent with a 70 degree start with upper 80s humidity. If it holds, it looks like I’ll be running a “B” or “C” goal race!

  2. What I’m sure is a stupid question: can you take an Uber from the train station to the party? I know it’s stupid that you have to do that, but it would get you there, if you really want/need to go.

    I agree with you about car culture. I hate that our culture/infrastructure makes people so reliant on cars. HATE it. And I understand there are big geographical limitations to public transit and walking/biking as solutions to this problem on a national level.

    But I hate even more that so many people don’t even question it. I get blank stares when I bring this up or when I talk about how absurd it is that well-off Americans will drive to gyms to get exercise and then spend the rest of their days sedentary. People really don’t see what’s so bizarre about this fact. It’s not just about the cars, it’s how many people feel that they need to get in a car and drive anywhere farther than a block away.

    • I can – I’m actually going to take an Uber the whole way there, since I asked my boss for recommendations on how to get there tomorrow, and he told me to take an Uber and expense it. Works for me!

      But I’m glad I’m not the only person frustrated by our reliance on cars. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so having a car was definitely a way of life. I never considered walking anywhere (though I don’t know where I really would’ve walked to anyway…a farm? Haha). But since I started living in the city, it feels stupid to take any form of transportation any distance less than like a mile. I feel silly when I get on the bus only to get off three stops later, and I’d really rather just walk it.

      • Same here! To be clear, Milwaukee has shitty public transit. The buses are slow and cumbersome and not always the most efficient way to get from point A to point B. But, they exist. So do bikes. Both living and working in city limits, there’s really no reason for me to take a car anywhere, unless for some reason I need to haul a bunch of crap from one place to another. I’m not anti-car, I think they have their place and I don’t want to do without them, I just think that we are too reliant on them. So many people bitch about our sedentary lifestyle, our health issues and obesity epidemic, but no one really wants to examine the fact that our addiction to convenience is driving some of this.

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