We live in a city. Fort Wayne is 74th in size nationally, far behind behemoths such as NYC, Chicago or LA, but an urban area nonetheless. As all with all urban areas, we have our share of urban problems. Last week an event happened that certainly caused many of us bus-riders to sit up and take notice.
The southeast side of Fort Wayne has far more than its fair share of hard luck stories. It is the area with the highest rates of poverty, violent crimes, and general police notice. It is also an area with plenty of hardworking, decent people who are going through life raising families, making a home and a life for themselves and trying to stay out of other people's drama. Unfortunately sometimes drama finds them anyway.
A woman was forced off the bus by her former boyfriend and shot on the sidewalk, in front of many witnesses, many of them schoolchildren waiting for their buses. It was horrific. Why do I bring this up on the blog? Because it is one of those stories that make many non-bus riders say "And that is why I would never ride a public bus." Millions of people ride public transit everyday. It is overwhelmingly safe. It is not perfect. As someone who has made a choice to live a carfree life, the bus is an essential part of my transportation package. This story hit particularly close to home for me because it is the busline I ride to and from work.
I was asked to say a few words after church last week about living carfree. There was a potluck to share information about the UCC's "4/1 Earth" Eastertide caring-for-creation emphasis. After the meal several people came up to share their stories of bus-riding days (mostly from many years back) and some to seemingly ask for absolution when they told of why they couldn't possibly ride the bus. Choosing to be carfree has never been meant as a means of somehow being "better" than those who drive, it a choice we made as a family. We don't necessarily play it up, but neither do we deny our choice.
I don't think riding the bus puts me at any greater risk than driving a car through the same neighborhood would put me. I ride the bus here, because it is where I work. Carfree is simply another facet of my multifaceted life.