The following is written by Anthony Wilder Puzzuoli, a Grand Rapids citizen and Rapid rider. One of Anthony’s 2017 resolutions is to ride all of The Rapid’s routes. He’s sharing his experiences with us as he goes. You can find his first blog here.
I’ve owned a smartphone for a little over two years now. I can think of a lot of ways it’s made my life easier. I can also think of a lot of ways it’s made me less present in my daily life. It’s a constant internal struggle for me whether the smartphone is a positive or negative in my life and I’ve often debated going smartphone free. One way that it is most definitely a positive thing for me is in traveling. Being able to access maps and information about better routes and places to stop can make traveling easier and less stressful. Traveling by bus has been no exception.
Usually, by the time our monthly billing cycle is ending, my wife and I have run out of data (too much Spotify), and my smartphone is pretty useless as a way to quickly access the internet. The Rapid’s website is a great resource for routes and planning trips – if you can access it. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself sitting on the bus, trying to figure out when my stop was coming up or where to get off to transfer to another route and wishing I hadn’t let our road trip playlist run while we were at dinner for two hours. It’s only resulted in a bit of confusion and a few inefficient trips, but it’s made me realize how much I rely on a connection to the internet for basic things, not just music and looking up baseball scores. I also noticed that the schedule books that used to be on every bus were not available on any of the buses I was riding. With more things shifting to a digital format, maybe I’ll hold onto that smartphone for bit longer…
SO THAT’S WHERE YOU ARE…
I work at an organization in town called Local First. I’ve been there for close to four years now. Our organization works with around 900 different businesses in the West Michigan, the majority of which are located in the Grand Rapids. I wish I could say I’ve visited each of those businesses, but I haven’t. However, since I’ve been riding the bus, I’ve been seeing our member’s buildings and signs. It’s a small thing, I know, but like meeting someone you’ve been emailing and putting a face to a name, it strengthens the connection. Now when I send that email, process a payment or edit their directory listing, I’m able to visualize their place in our community, the place where they belong.
BIKES ON BOARD
One of my favorite features of the bus is the bike racks. I bike a lot and use the bike racks frequently. However, the first time I used the bike rack, I was completely confused about how to operate it. I felt like an idiot. I also know I’m not the only one. On a recent ride, I witnessed another first-time bike rack user, equally confused, trying to get his bike on the rack while the bus operator beeped the horn and attempted to make helpful hand signals as to how to operate the rack. Eventually, a passenger got off the bus to assist. Fortunately, operating the bike rack is a lot like riding a bike, once you figure it out, you never forget.
Also, I’m always thinking about what happens when the bike racks are full and more people want to ride with their bikes. This has to happen right? Are those people just out of luck? Is it bad that I am hoping for this to happen every time I ride the bus?
Stay tuned for another blog from Anthony next month!