8 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Making Cities Better for Women”

  1. Dark, often unlit transit centers are probably pretty hostile to women. Opening some businesses that stay open late at night such as coffee stands I imagine will help a lot.

  2. No argument whatever on any point. But I would like to see a TED talk delivered by the woman who cleans the bathrooms down the hall. Or the woman’s husband, who drives a bus. Especially if both of them are in Singapore on work visas.

    To which the entire population of Singapore should respond: “We yield the floor the floor to their counterparts in the United States!” Because whatever statistical differences between us and the entire rest of the world, we’ve got precisely zero excuse for our numbers.

    Mark Dublin

  3. With a new generation of street lighting products and studies, we need to overhaul the standard Seattle City Light approach of a streetlight up in a tree canopy. The foliage makes many streets look like a dark forest because the lighting doesn’t reach the street or sidewalk. Meanwhile, the trees and the various life forms that interact with them get no real darkness because the lights are on during the evenings.

    A better street-lighting design — with lights closer together and closer to the ground — would do wonders for pedestrian safety for everyone including women and children because they can see what is happening on the street more easily and they can be better seen by motorists that may be turning across their paths.

    When Seattle does these corridor improvement projects, I hope more people will speak up and push the on this issue. This should be a basic component of the Project Zero effort.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree. Even traveling with other adults, it is sometimes difficult to time bus schedules. With kids, forget it. There is nothing like missing an hourly bus to take a five-year-old to the bathroom, to turn a family off transit for a long time.

      When bikes are involved, yet more troubles arise, starting with the fact that the bus racks can only hold three bikes, which means a family of four, traveling together, cannot use them, period, and a family of three is forced to either wait for the next bus or split up if just one position on the rack is occupied by another person.

      In general, I think there’s a disconnect – as long as most mainstream people believe you *have* to have a car to have kids, the political will to make buses more family-friendly will not be there. And, until buses become more family friendly, even a transit-friendly audience like the people on this blog will still feel compelled to go buy a car the moment a child is expected. So, it’s something like a chicken and egg cycle.

      Fares is another issue. I recall one time when I was growing up when my family (two adults, two children) was driving through New Jersey and decided to go to a Mets game on a Sunday afternoon. We did the math and added up the cost to take four people to the stadium for a round trip (8 one-way path fares + 8 one-way subway fares), and compared that with the cost of gas, parking, and bridge tolls. (We were in a rental car, so wear+tear on the car irrelevant). The sad conclusion was that, at least on a Sunday in the mid-90’s, it was a couple dollars cheaper to drive and park, even in New York.

      That said, things are slowly starting to get better, even if the powers that be aren’t directly thinking about families. Uber and Lyft provide a valuable backstop for infrequent buses, and make it possible to at least attempt to take a family on transit to some suburban destinations that would have been unthinkable before. And, as the light rail continues to expand, it will be more family-friendly than buses, simply because of it’s bigger space and level boarding. And, on the bus side of things, the frequent network has slowly been expanding, and, one by one, routes that used to have been frequent only on weekday daytime hours are slowly having their frequent service expanded to include evenings and weekends. Yes, “frequent” service, still means every 15 minutes, not 5, so there’s still work to be done, but we’re at least making progress in the right direction.

  4. In many cities, including San Francisco, bus zone shelters have large advertising panels, lighted all night. It seems to me that these have two important functions.

    One, of course, to provide revenue to the transit system. But the other is to maintain a cheerful well-lighted presence all night long. I think that we should have started doing a lot more of this, a long time ago.

    Might also substitute for “wraps” over vehicle windows, which I hate, and consider an infringement of my right to look at the beautiful scenery of our service area.


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