Opinion

The value of a nice walk

I’m standing at a Hurry ‘Cane shuttle stop and a number of people are standing there with me. It’s not a particularly remarkable day weather-wise, so the waiting was not too bad. As you might see in a lot of other places, people are either standing and silently waiting for the bus, or they’re talking on their cell phone or to someone else. I check my watch a couple of times-want to make sure I make it to work on time. Finally after ten minutes that seemed to pass in slow motion, a shuttle bus arrives.

So, here we go. Moving slowly among the too-narrow streets of University Village, the bus plods along, slowly making several stops as it works its way toward the Ponce Garage. The bus eventually pulls into UM’s own little central bus terminal and comes to a rest at the bus stop for the people heading toward Stanford Circle. A few get off, a few get on. And so it goes and the bus moves on toward that turning area near Mark Light Stadium.

Now we’re on our way, except we now have to stop again at the other Ponce Bus stop, the one not 30 feet from the other one. Elapsed time: 10 minutes. Normally, that might be okay, but in terms of real distance traveled, I think I’m probably less than 500 yards from where I got on the bus.

Anyway, the bus is now moving again. Stop at the metro. Stop in that parking lot next to the Metro. Stop at Mahoney. And finally, Stanford Circle. I get off the bus to begin my walk towards the old apartment area, which is about 100 yards from Ponce Garage. Total elapsed time: 20 minutes.

20 minutes. And in the end all I’ve really traveled is about 600 yards.

The next morning, I’m out at that bus stop again. All is as you’d expect, except this time, I’m a little behind, as I’ve now been waiting about 15 minutes for the bus. The clock is ticking, and I’ve got to get to work. Still no bus. What am I going to do?

I’m going to have to do the unthinkable. I’m going to have to. (cringe) walk! And so I walk to work. Right up to the office. It’s a nice day, no bad weather, and the air seems fresh enough. Now mind you, I’m going to the same place I took the bus to the morning before. As I arrive in the office I check my watch. There I find an amazing thing.

Elapsed time: 10 minutes.

The moral here is that while it’s nice that UM provides this shuttle service, it isn’t crucial to your existence.

In the time it takes for most people who complain about the length of time between buses to wait and complain about it, they could have walked to wherever they were going and returned.

I’ll admit sometimes it’s nice, especially after a long day, to catch a ride. But when we act as if a shuttle ride is akin to an entitlement, we miss all the value and simplicity of a really nice walk.

Scott Wacholtz is a graduate student concentrating in Middle Eastern history. He may be contacted at s.wacholtz@umiami.edu

February 9, 2007

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