Sunday, January 17, 2016

Shall we send a car?

RantWoman visits a certain large locally-based software entity a few times / year. Sometimes RantWoman is a participant in some kind of Digital Inclusion exercise. More often, representatives involved with usability graciously invite RantWoman to mouth off. Let's just say, there is a continuing need to educate developers and other new staff about accessibility and RantWoman expects to have plenty of opportunities to mouth off.

RantWoman also encounters representatives of said large employer and a couple others in public meetings about transportation. Said large local employers complain that transportation gridlock is getting in the way of their ability to recruit. But said large employers also want tax breaks and do not come with ideas about funding improvements to transportation. So maybe there is a disconnect somewhere.

RantWoman mentions this in the context of accessibility because driving is never an option for RantWoman. RantWoman also knows plenty of other people who for various reasons cannot aand should not drive but do want a life that is more varied than go to and from work and come home and order everything by mail order. RantWoman also mentions this because transit planning concepts such as Puget Sound 2040 are VERY commute-centric and really need to think more about people who are entirely transit-dependent. In other words, if all the operating system still plays well with accessibility software and that helps make it easier for blind people and other people with disabilities, to get jobs, they are still going to need good transit to get around for the rest of life.

RantWoman is grateful to be invited to mouth off again and has already generously gone above and beyond. RantWoman will tell anyone who asks that just maybe said software entity SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT AHEAD. Said Software entity released the newest version of an operating system in which users of assistive technology are still months behind in terms of being able to interact with the product.

Said software company now wants everyone, EVERYONE to upgrade to said operating system. RantWoman THINKS said software company has realized that they just might wind up with a lot of blind and visually impaired people not only upset, but completely unable to work. RantWoman is the sort who in response to this situation could happily think of protest scenarios: camping out on the lawn, telling everyone to bring snacks and mobile devices... Sugary versions of USB drives and other computer gear?

But first, RantWoman needs to offer idiosyncratic reflections on the question"Shall we send a car?"

RantWoman, thinking of travel at a time when one of the buses she sould take is always SRO, thinking of transfers, said sure, let's try it, as long as someone else is paying for it.

RantWoman even knows that blind people who work the costs of transportation into a reasonable accommodations request sometimes take the company's standard budget for mileage and use that as a basis for funding ride-share and taxi.

But after RantWoman said yes, she also did an inventory of reasons not necessarily to want to rely on car services.

Fitness regimen: RantWoman actually sometimes gets a good portion of her day's exercise just walking the different increments of distance she need to go to cathc buses, do errands, catch the next bus. RantWoman aspires to add other things like regular swimming to her fitness regimen, but just now, the walking is it.

Sense of community on the bus. True, RantWoman has been known to use the phrase rolling anthropology project. For instance, RantWoman could have lived without today's conversation with an older white guy who was being RUDE to an Asian woman. but RantWoman really appreciates conversations with people new to the city, cute kids in snuggly hats, moms with kids in strollers.

This last offers another bonus: the young mom with an infant who gets relies entirely on transit is probably not going to make it out the door to many public participation opportunities. But RantWoman is happy to tell anyone who asks and frequently people who do not ask that NO, it is NOT reasonable to expect that mom to take the kid out of the stroller all the time while also juggling the infant, stow whatever bags the stroller might also be holding, and stow the stroller. RantWoman is unclear about the evolution of rules about this but is VERY happy to report that at least some of the time, drivers now will help a mother secure a stroller.

Vehicle mass: Buses are the biggest passenger vehicle on the road. Sometimes in smaller cars, RantWoman finds it disconcerting to be at the same level as many flavors of road idiocy. RantWoman does not have this problem on buses even though there seem to be plenty of, well, idiots on the road who cut off buses, try to turn in front of them and generally display all sorts of disregard for basic physics and common sense. RantWoman also thinks that putting up with this level of idiocy is a profession and worth being appropriately compensated with pension and medical and everything, but that is a conversation for another post.

In any case, shall we send a car.

Yes, please, let's just try it!
Road capacity. A car delivering RantWoman is essentially moving one passenger in about 8 feet of road space. A bus would be moving 20-40 people in 40-60 feet of roadspace.

Look, Rantwoman knows people are hacked off about $10 tolls on I 405. RantWoman also suspects people cannot instantly organize carpooling arrangements, but RantWoman reminds readers of the above point: buses move more people while taking up less road space per person than cars, even cars with more than one person in them. That is, if you need to move more people through the same road space, just how does anyone propose to do that? RantWoman, to be honest, thinks that MAYBE some people willing to pay the tolls might be really happy if some of their tolls helped fund ways to move more people in bigger vehicles, like say transit..

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