For weary bus riders, especially seniors and people with disabilities, comfortable seating at bus shelters is a necessity. Even while many governments expand bus service, they often regard seating as an unaffordable or unneeded luxury. In one corner of northern Virginia, a group of residents have crafted a grassroots solution, giving their neighbors a place to sit while they wait for the next bus.
A solution to this seating problem has emerged at 10 bus stops along major thoroughfares in Arlington and Falls Church. A local resident and his helpers have been adding simple, comfortable chairs to previously bare bus stops. Taking photos, they have documented the use of these seats over time, confirming a latent need for dignified seating at the region’s bus stops.
These guerrilla do-gooders scavenged on trash nights for durable and comfortable plastic lawn chairs. They modified the chairs with a drill to include holes in the seat for improved rain drainage, and a leg mounting point for a security chain.
Based on the number of bus riders they observed waiting and the availability of suitable space on the sidewalk or grass strip, this cadre identified optimal locations for the ad-hoc seating.
With used bike chains (also scavenged) and a chain tool, they secured chairs to bus stop poles within the public right of way, largely safe from tampering or vandalism.
Ironically, in our industrialized, high-tech nation, these locals have followed an approach that harkens to strategies applied in developing countries. The principle of “appropriate technology” is characterized by grassroots, sustainable, lower-cost, lower-tech solutions to basic human needs
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Photo by Luke A. Idziak