Five Valuable Lessons Hollywood Can Teach Us About Transportation

It’s a bit clichéd, but cars really are part of the American psyche (Exhibits 1-6: The Fast & The Furious 1-6). And while we all want to be good, sometimes it’s hard to save the earth by walking and bike riding and train taking and so forth, especially when Hollywood offers so many far more appealing examples. That said, sometimes, being good means playing the cards that you’re dealt. So while I can’t imagine anybody making a movie that does for bike-riding or public transportation what Cannonball Run did for gas-guzzling cross country races, nonetheless, our friends in Tinseltown do have some valuable lessons for those who do choose more environmentally conscious means of transportation.


Lesson One: Stay Alert \n
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) and Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight (1995): One of the disadvantages of public transportation, of course, is that you don’t have much of a choice as regards with whom you share your trip (in fairness, the same applies to some extent to family car trips as well). There are, however, several common-sense steps one can take to eliminate the more egregiously awful seatmates one may find. For example, if you notice a group of men furtively speaking to one another and calling themselves things like “Mr. Grey” and “Mr. Blue,” you might want to move to another train car. On the other hand, if you notice that one of the passengers getting on your bus surreptitiously pours a little bit of blood from the Crucifixion onto the step of the bus, you might think “that should protect us from the Demon Knight,” or you might think “Great, just my luck to get stuck next to someone being chased by the Demon Knight.” Either way, in today’s security conscious environment, it’s good to know what you’re getting into.
Lesson Two: It’s Not About How Much You Spend\n
Breaking Away (1978): Maybe the Cutters didn’t have the best bikes or the best training, but they had a lot of heart, and a kind of all-star cast (Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern, and Jackie Earle Haley may still be having his moment), and while we won’t tell you what happened, let’s just say that they earned the grudging respect of those stuck-up University of Indiana snobs. So take a lesson from the Cutters—don’t worry about getting an expensive racing bike—just get something that will get you to where you want to go, and go.
Lesson Three: Don’t be a Dumbass\n
Where’s Poppa (1970): I know that when you jog or ride it’s good for the environment, and good for the body and mind, and there are some people who absolutely have to be out there doing the thing they love to do. But take a page from Ron Leibman’s character in Where’s Poppa? When he would get a call that his senile mother on the West Side needed help, even though he could have easily afforded the cab, he would run through Central Park, invariably encountering the gang of muggers who regularly terrorized him. An environmentally sound decision, but a dumbassed one nonetheless. There will be times when weather, or health, or the demands of career and family need to trump your desire to get your jog on. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for body, mind and environment, is just stay on the couch.
Lesson Four: Respect Your Fellow Travelers\n
Spiderman 2 (2004): I am a sucker for such things, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I got choked up when, after Spiderman saved the subway train and passed out, the subway passengers all rally behind him. Now, I can certainly accept that Doc Oc’s actions were on the extreme side of things, but as far as I’m concerned, his efforts to crash the subway were simply on a spectrum with people on buses or trains who play their music too loudly, leave their garbage, or shout into their phones. And who knows, maybe if Doc hadn’t been such a dick, the passengers on that train wouldn’t have been so quick to jump to Spidey’s side.
Lesson Five: Just Do It Already\n
The Ten Commandments (1956): Of course, driving is usually faster and easier, but here’s the thing: All the stuff you’re worried about when it comes to walking—it will take too long, it will hurt, it may increase the chances of the Egyptian charioteers catching up to you—was stuff that Moses and the Israelites had to worry about too. But as we can learn from The Ten Commandments, even when a trip takes forty years and leads to all kinds of troubles, it doesn’t really matter, because when it’s all over, the only part people remember is the good stuff. So let it be written, so let it be done.
Join us for our Fix Your Street Challenge on the last Saturday of May. Click here to say you'll Do It and be sure to share stories of transportation innovation all month.\n

Original image (cc) flickr user sryffel
via David Leavitt / Twitter

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