Saturday, May 3, 2008
Introduction (the problems at hand):
It is important that people are more aware of how their daily activities affect the shared environment. As it is becoming more evident that humans have an active role in global warming, it is necessary for individuals to evaluate how they can lower their carbon emissions: by carpooling, buying gas-efficient vehicles, walking, biking, using public transportation, vacationing closer to home, and so on.
Few cities in America have adequate public transportation systems. Cities now tend to be built to support easy and time efficient roadways for the growing population of cars. It has been a major priority in the past hundred years to build roadways that connect cities and countrysides. Cars have been marketed as a person’s pathway to a life of luxury, freedom, excitement, and exploration. For those that cannot afford a vehicle and must use public transportation, this social–cultural emphasis is a daily reminder that in the current American infrastructure, a person’s ability to gain these characteristics can be extremely difficult. Cars are a symbol of status, whereas public transportation (buses and trains) are a symbol of an individual’s limits. Every single time someone rides a bus (that is, if they are riding it out of necessity and not by choice), they are reminded of their social and economic class. This reminder is hard to misinterpret, especially when it is evident from the condition of bus terminals and buses, the inefficiency in routing and planning, and the inadequate shelter and seating at bus stops. It is also evident that public transit programs are poorly funded. Many bus stops do not have adequate signage or seating and passengers are left to stand or sit on the ground, further revealing the level of disrespect our cities and governments have for the working poor and fixed or stagnant income earners.
Individuals who use public transportation out of necessity are actually working to lower emissions, thus improving the environment. Although, this behavior may not be from an active understanding of environmental issues, it is a positive aspect of their everyday activities that should be brought into the open and into the environmentalist dialogue.
It is my aim to construct efficient and streamline seating for people who use public transportation, to give passengers a sense of authority, autonomy, and power, while highlighting and commending them for their environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Historically, chairs symbolize dignity and those who sit upon them deserve respect and are worthy of honor. Although this history may not be commonly known, we nevertheless recognize chairs as objects that offer an elevated vantage point from which to view the world.
Many bus stop signs are located on electric poles along roadways. While each road varies in its layout (presence of sidewalks, in lane width, presence of shoulders, or multiple lanes, etc.), it became important for the chair design to include the most recurring site element, the pole. A public chair should not exceed the space that a passenger already occupies at the bus stop; therefore, the design must also relinquish that space when the stop is unoccupied. The design of such a chair should be simple, inexpensive to produce, and made from materials that can either be reused or recycled or made from sustainable materials.
Not only is it important to offer passengers a place to sit but it is also important that the chair design open or facilitate a dialogue about how their actions are actively improving the environment.
Each pole will accommodate a unit of green back-to-back seats that resemble and function much like theater seating. An awaiting passenger can unfold or pull down the chair to sit on; when it is no longer needed, the seat will fold or flip itself up. On the seat of the chair will be the following statement:
You are a role model.
You are actively improving the environment by riding the bus. http://ridinggreen.blogspot.com
This statement is meant to address the circumstance of the passenger’s use of public transportation, understanding that use of public transit needs not only be a reminder of physical, and economic limitations but a positive position taking, one which others can imitate and strive for (the rider as an educator or role-model).
The location of the 11 sites were determined by specific site requirements: each bus stop must have a free-standing pole, the pole’s location must be at least two feet away from moving traffic, and the installation of a unit cannot inhibit sidewalk accessibility. Due to the small quantity of units, the chairs will be installed on only a part of two parallel bus routes in which 90 percent of the bus stops fit the site requirements. Each of the sites is located along route 34 between Pasadena and Tilman on Union/ Walnut Grove.
Concentrating the new bus stop seating along one route will have a much larger impact on passengers and those who pass by in their vehicles than would be the case if the chairs were spread throughout the city of Memphis. As a grouping, the chair units will visually connect the bus stops along the routes, highlight the need for seating, and draw attention to the individuals who use public transportation. I hope that the insertion of Duv-tal will not only raise passenger environmental awareness by respectfully giving riders a place to sit but also raise the curiosity of car travelers enough so that they might stop to investigate the units and also see the message inscribed on the seat. Since the message commends bus passengers, it implies the reverse of car travelers.