Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Photo Shoot Outs: Transportation

Clermont-Ferrand is not a very big place, plus I make it a point to live within walking distance (though possibly a long walk) from work, so my ideal number one choice of transportation is walking. Thus the collection of shoes I’m capable of walking home in. Not a heel among them.
Let’s get real, though. I hate cold and I hate wet and in the cooler months I usually flake on exercise and take the bus. Some of the bus stops even have little shelters so you don’t get too wet. The drawback to busriding is the limited service. Weekdays until 8pm or so, there’s terrific service between my house and the center of town. But the last bus home from the big supermarket is at 7:30. And on Sundays/holidays they’re every half hour if there’s service at all. So you have to plan. Or be wearing walking shoes! The most annoying thing about the bus only happens to me every 3 months or so: the first bus of the morning next to my house gets me to the train station just in time to see the train to Paris pulling away. Thanks! Could we move that bus up just 5 minutes? Hmm?
Clermont recently stepped up it’s public transportation offer with a tramway. They promise a second line some day, even. I like the tram. It’s big and roomy and runs pretty often. Except Sundays and holidays of course. So many people like the tram that it isn’t big enough at rush hour, but they can’t really put more trains on the line because they’d be catching up to each other. While bus riding has remained something of a stigma, so that for the most part only people who have no other means of getting around take it, the tram has a better reputation. It also serves several significant and well-placed parking lots around the edge of town, where you can park and get up to four free tram tickets with your parking, so people are starting to leave their cars there and take the tram into town. The last clever thing to force people out of their cars and onto the tram is that in the heart of town where roads are narrow and eternally congested, the twin tracks replaced driving space along a key artery, making the driving problem worse but walking, biking and tramming much, much better.
To go farther afield, there are busses to surrounding towns and villages. Not terribly practical for tourism; they’re geared to commuters, with one or two busses coming to Clermont in the morning and then one or two heading back to the hinterlands in the early evening. Miss it and you’re screwed. The bus station on Sundays is turned into the flea market, where I like to go treasure hunting. Such Sunday busses as there are leave from the train station, where a goodly number of trains are plying the rails. There are shiny new trains going to small towns I haven’t been to yet. There are big trains heading to Paris or Bordeaux or Toulouse or Lyon and eventually all of Europe. For modest distances, the train is better than flying. OK, for price and for pollution it’s always better than flying. But take getting to Paris. Clermont to central Paris in 3 hours. Who cares if the flight is only 50 minutes, when you have to get to the distant airport, check in, wait around, then find transport to your real destination once you land? Not to mention nobody minds your knitting needles or bottle of water on a train. You can even keep your computer on.
One thing I don’t do is bike, though lots of other people do. There aren’t many bike lanes in town. Those there are, are great, if they’re not filled with pedestrians. Elsewhere it’s bike in traffic at your own peril. Forget that!

So that's transportation around here. 14 years without a car, and I get around just fine. There are some places I can't get to on my own, and it's not always convenient, but it works.
Thanks for following me around town!


Rachel Cotterill said...

Our buses stop even earlier than that! :) With no Sunday service.

Thanks for showing us around.

Sarah Lulu said...

I love the way all your instructions, like where to comment are in french..I feel like I'm almost speaking a foreign language ...haha
14 years without a car! You have done so well.

Butler and Bagman said...

Ooh...the subways cars have beautiful colors! I'm also laughing that so many of us shot pictures of our own shoes! Great suggestion for a theme, by the way. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Good for you. I enjoyed your post very much.

Barry said...

I love that you have dedicated bike lanes. Bikers are treated with disdain here in Toronto and it looks like a life threatening mode of transportation.

It is hilarious how many people thought to take pictures of the shoe collection. Although I think Mark's wife wins the prize for the most shoes so far.

A great topic and some great pictures Nancy!

Doreen said...

love this theme you choose and seeing everyone's interpretations.

I like the bike road. how cool! must help with the congestion I hope.

nice look around your town!

Robyn said...

Great pictures, and subject you picked this week!

sciencegirl said...

Thanks, everyone! I'm glad you liked the theme, and it's cool to see so many people going all-out with it.

Chef E said...

Nice, and you are lucky like the cities here, we are forced to get out of the car, and how spoiled we are too!

You made me think of when I am in Europe and the PNW...bikers will run you over, and if you do not move they are mumbling curse words at you...but they do deserve kudos for their efforts!

Great idea for our FSO posts!

hensly said...

Great theme! In Hawaii, we have one of the best Bus systems in the USA called simply - "The Bus". Our mass-transit rail system is still a number of years away. Thanks for sharing!

Gordon said...

I can see why you chose this theme from your shots. Thanks for the great show. Thanks say hello to Pinky for me. When is he going to make a Shoot-out?

Patty said...

It looks like both you and Butler and Bagman shot shoes. Great take on transportation. It is so much fun to see what everyone comes up with each week.

I enjoyed your photos and commentary. I especially liked the the flea market area. Not only is that my kind of place, the photo was terrific.

Thanks for a great assignment. A good time was had by all.

We are waiting on Reggie Girl to pick a name so we can get next weeks assignment. Stay tuned.

J9 said...

I loved this week's theme - thank you for suggesting it! I've gotten around my town on and off without a car for nearly my entire life, and I need to do it more often!

Elaine Dale said...

I live in a small city of 35,000 in southern Ontario, Canada and we have similar public transportation problems. Our buses run every 1/2 hour from 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday only. No Sunday or holiday service!

Kim said...

Nice tour de France of public transport...I agree with you, I'd much rather take a train for 3 hours than take a plane, the scenery is better, the experience is healthier on us and the planet...

haitham said...

I am in PRECISELY the same boat (or almost--i can walk to work and then use the office car to drive to schools). I've resisted getting a car and have to take buses if I want to go somewhere far. I do have a bike (a "mama-chari," with the same implication that you'd expect) that I love to ride around to nowhere in particular. Most of the pics you see on my blog are from my meanderings on 2 wheels.

My hat is off to you for going the public-transport route. I love the pictures too--I miss Europe something fierce! : )

sciencegirl said...

Hi Haitham, nice to hear from you!
Being carless has been a gradual evolution. At first I was here for a post-doc - too short to invest in a car, then I was staying longer but without enough money to buy the least wreck, and finally when I could afford one I was just used to getting around otherwise. It's not that hard!
Great photos of Japan - I love your non-tourist view of the country.

boom trucks said...

Usually when you think of busses you think of the bright yellow ones that you used to be forced to ride on the way to school but not anymore. Although busses are still primarily focused on bringing transportation to a large number of people at a time, they are now shifting their attention to building busses made for luxury and style. They are comfortable and fun to ride and drive.