Yesterday, on my way home from work I stopped at Whole Foods in Berkeley to pick up a few groceries and some delicious lasagna from their deli. I do this often because it’s so convenient – I just take the 1 or 1R a few stops past my apartment and then hop back on the 1 towards Oakland. Even if it’s a bit of a wait for the 1, it’s worth it because I don’t like carrying heavy groceries several blocks after a long day, usually in heels. And it’s ok because I just sit down on the bench at Telegraph and Webster and enjoy the generally beautiful weather while I wait.
So last night I left Whole Foods with my groceries and walked towards the bus stop. My heart sank when I reached the spot where the bench should have been:
All that was left of the bus bench I’ve depended on for years were its footprints on the pavement. I stared at the pavement for a bit and then looked behind me:
Sure, I could sit on that bench, underneath the shelter, but I knew that if I did, there was a good chance that the bus would pass me up. That bus bench is probably about 7 or 8 feet from the curb and since it’s hidden behind the shelter wall, it’s difficult for a bus driver to see someone sitting there. I’ve been passed up enough times to know that this was too big a risk to take, especially considering that the 1 only arrives every 20 minutes at best.
So I stood near the footprints of the missing bus bench and waited for my bus. The bus driver easily saw me and I didn’t have to walk a long way with my groceries.
It’s hard to say whether the bench removal is permanent (it’s possible they could be replacing it), but if it is, I think this was a poor decision by either AC Transit or Berkeley. Sometimes it makes sense to remove street furniture or trees to make space for pedestrians, but the sidewalk on this block is fairly wide. Beyond that, there should be some thought given to the particular use of this bus stop since the vast majority of people who use it are carrying groceries and would really appreciate being able to sit down for a few minutes.
If AC Transit or Berkeley don’t come to the rescue, maybe someone will save me and other shoppers with DIY bus stop furniture. Until then, I guess I’ll prepare myself for a lot more standing with heavy groceries.