Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Backpacks on Public Transit

A backpack bump in NYC
Since we have a car now (go, Honda Fit!) and I bike to work every day, I rarely use public transport anymore.  I've only been on the CTA a handful of times in the past 16 months - except for this morning when I took a train downtown for a meeting.  And I was surprised by the fact that still - STILL - folks have not grasped the concept of removing their backpacks when they enter a train car or bus.

First of all, backpacks are safety hazards.  I've almost lost an eye on more than one occasion, sitting next to a standing person whose wearing a backpack.  I've been whacked in the head and face several times.  I've had a person with a backpack pushing into me, seemingly oblivious to what they were doing.  My complaints have only been met with half-hearted "sorry"s and never once has my request that the backpack be removed been honored.  This morning, due to the rain, the person standing next to my seat just allowed their backpack to drip all over my lap.  And I didn't even get a "sorry" this time.

Some backpacks can add up to a foot or more to a person's depth and girth.  A well-stuffed backpack can easily take the same amount of space as another human being.  This also goes for the giant purses women are carrying these days, holding everything from pairs of shoes to yoga mats.  Space on trains and buses is valuable, especially during rush hours when everyone just wants to get to their destinations, comfort be damned.

Any confusion about the etiquette of this is inexcusable.  Hear me, people: take it off and either put it on the floor at your feet or hold it in front of you so that you are in control of it and aware of its proximity to others at all times. Fortunately, I am not the only person who recognizes that this is an issue, an issue that happens all over the country if not the world.  Requesting riders to remove backpacks or large purses should be an announcement, the same as giving up your seat for elderly passengers and expectant mothers.  It's a no-brainer.  But I guess you need a brain to figure it out yourself.