• Dr. Stuart P. Stofferahn


As I prepare to give up my car for a month, I have considered the proposition.

While it is certainly a sacrifice (giving up something I have), it’s more than that.

It means inconvenience (not just for me, but for my entire support system), additional planning, additional expense (when would I otherwise have had the need to purchase a waterproof backpack or scooter?), and additional patience.

It also means empathy. I am very quickly discovering that when I rely solely on public transportation, my world shrinks. A lot.

For example, before I consider where I would live, I would need to know how close I was to the nearest bus stop. In searching for a job, I would need to consider the proximity of the place of employment to a bus stop and if my shift would match up with the drop off/pick up schedule. If it didn’t, I would be forced to keep looking. I would want to know if there was a grocery store on a route that didn’t involve a transfer – or at least minimized the potential for delays (imagine bringing home milk, butter, meat, or any other grocery item that requires refrigeration). I would need to consider the proximity of the nearest urgent care clinic, hospitals, dental offices . . . . the list is overwhelming.

Considering this list, I would have to move. My current house is 1.7 miles from the nearest bus stop. Every day during the month of May, I will make that round trip at least once. I anticipate that after two days (even WITH my scooter), I will be sick of it and want to quit. Maybe three.

The list of options for folks who rely solely on public transportation are not the same as those options that are available for those who have the freedom associated with a privately-owned car. In some ways, it is similar to students who graduate from high school. Neurotypical graduates (the car people) have a long list of options, and the Atypical graduates (the non-car people) face a future where the options come on a much shorter list. And in a world where the measure of greatness should be the way in which we care for those most vulnerable, maybe something like this is worth considering a little more in-depth. Regardless of the disparity, the challenge is to find ways to move beyond merely surviving and find that pathway to thriving.

Certainly something to ponder on my many hours of bus-riding during the month of May.

My world is going to shrink. A lot.

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