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Welcoming Spring with Car Maintenance Tips

Winter brings commuting challenges our way—Potholes, tire pressure fluctuation, and increased fuel consumption. Luckily, with how common telecommuting has been this winter, many people were able to cut down the wear-and-tear on their vehicles by working from home.

Even if your commuting has been minimal, there are still important steps to take to make sure your car is in good shape. Here are a few tips to get your vehicle ready for spring.

Check Your Battery

Colder weather can take a toll on your car’s battery. Some warning signs of an overworked battery are dimming headlights, slow-moving power windows, and dim interior lights. It may be time for a check-up. Brakes, engine, and tires could always benefit from an inspection, too. If you’re in a carpool, you don’t want your vehicle to have any unpredictable issues.

Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

If you’re on the West Coast, you were likely fortunate enough to not have to shovel your car out of the snow as much as New Englanders did this winter. Even still, it’s a good idea to swap your windshield wiper blades for new ones at the end of each season, as mud and grime from the road can weaken the blades over time.

A Much-Needed Cleaning

Washing your car’s body can be a lot of fun, and doing it yourself can save you money instead of going to a car wash. If you’re a member of a carpool, having a clean car and neat interior may be one of your priorities. Now is the time to do it as we prepare for spring cleaning around the house!

Treating Your Car with Care

Cars are a huge investment, and issues can be inconvenient and even dangerous. If you are a member of a carpool, it is worth checking out your Department of Transportation website to see what Guaranteed Ride Home Programs they have for employees who use green commute options.

Welcome in longer days and warmer weather by treating your vehicle to some spring maintenance!

by Isabelle Brown  | 


Female Figures from Transit's Past

As we enter March, Women’s History Month gives us a chance to recognize the achievements of women in the business of transit. Like many industries, transportation was a man’s world until women made space for themselves.

Wilma Russey

A classic form of ridesharing, the taxi business didn’t see a woman cab driver until January 1, 1915. Wilma Russey became a pioneer of the transit industry before women even had the right to vote. Her story headlined the New York Times with an article titled “New York’s First Feminine Chauffeur Starts Business on New Year’s Day.” In her signature leopard-skin hat, she quickly became a popular local driver with a strong background and expertise in mechanics.

Helen Schultz: "Iowa's Bus Queen"

When public transit made its way to the U.S., it was typically in small-scale and often family-run enterprises. If women were in the business, it was likely because she inherited it from her husband or father. One female entrepreneur changed everything—Helen Schultz, founder of the Red Ball Transportation Company at age 26. Established in Iowa in 1922, this was the first female-owned bus line. In the competitive field of transit, Red Ball was marketed to women and traveling businessmen, and earned Schultz her title of “Iowa’s Bus Queen”.

Photo Credit: https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=9845&context=annals-of-iowa

Women's Impact in Transportation

These figures changed the status quo as they succeeded in their careers. From making it in the New York Times to gaining statewide recognition as the Bus Queen, these women made names for themselves through hard work. Shattering these glass ceilings for women in our country has had lasting impacts on the industry to this day. Women in the transit industry continue to build on their legacies today.

by Isabelle Brown  | 


Transit Equity

The conversation surrounding transportation equity is incomplete without hearing from disadvantaged communities such as low-income members of society, people with disabilities, and Black and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. 

What is Transit Equity?

Transportation equity is the idea that no matter your race, gender, income, age, or location, public transit is a civil right that should be safe, accessible, affordable, and environmentally sustainable. 

In order to achieve transit equity around the U.S., residents need to be provided with proper resources, tools, and opportunities for economic growth. In terms of transit, funding public transportation systems is key to community advancement. 

Transit Equity Day, celebrated on February 4th, commemorates the life and legacy of Rosa Parks and the key role she played in creating the ideals behind transportation equity. We are able to take all the positive changes we have made, and develop them further to make transit systems better for those who have historically been left out.  

Combatting Climate Change

Not only is public transit a connection between communities and economic abundance, but a strategy to combat climate change. This creates a great need for low-income and primarily Black communities to receive abundant resources for equitable and accessible transit systems.  

Transit equity requires stakeholders and industry leaders to pinpoint where the needs are the greatest, and to do what’s necessary to meet those needs. If we are planning for the people who are the most marginalized, then everyone in between benefits, too.  

Recognizing the link between economic, environmental, and health issues is key to beginning to achieve transit equity. The disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color has been heightened by institutional policy and planning that leaves out low-income communities from the real benefits of thriving public transit systems.  

Our Role

To advocate and fight for transit equity, members of the transportation industry like ourselves must create space to prioritize community voice, and center on processes that achieve positive outcomes.  

As Vernā Myers, VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix put it, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

by Isabelle Brown  | 


Edwina Justus: A Force in the Railroad Industry

In her youth, Edwina ‘Curlie’ Justus was the only Black student in her entire elementary school. She would go on to defy what anyone ever thought a Black woman could be in our society, and become the first Black female locomotive engineer at Union Pacific Railroad.  

Defying Expectations

Born in 1943 in Omaha, Nebraska, Justus was always a dreamer. Living in an unsupportive world, everything she achieved came down to pure resilience and hard work. When she was hired at Union Pacific as an office clerk in 1973, she was one of five black women working for the Omaha office.  

Always described as bubbly, pleasant, and hardworking, Justus endured the cruel face of racism on a daily basis at her place of work. Nick Aloi, a former employee at the same time as Justus, was interviewed for Nebraska Stories, and said “She had two strikes: She was a woman, and she was Black.”  

Justus would recount the things she heard coworkers say about her both directly, and when they thought she wasn’t around. But against all odds, she kept her head held high and moved forward. Within a couple years with Union Pacific, Justus was promoted to the position of traction motor clerk where she would keep track of repairs. “I didn’t even know what a traction motor was,” she recalled. Her drive and intellect boosted her up in the company and she adapted to every challenge thrown her way.  

Making History

In 1976, Justus became the company’s first African American female locomotive engineer. For this position, she moved to North Platte, a town of 22,000 people, where less than 100 people were Black.

Justus knew she was making history. “From the very first department I was ever in, most of the guys and the women too had never been close enough to a Black woman to touch,” she said. “I changed every department that I went into.” 

A Timeless Inspiration 

By the time she left Union Pacific in 1990, the workforce looked very different compared to the barriers Justus had to cross. To this day, this railroad companyfounded by Abraham Lincoln in 1862commits itself to inclusion and diversity, and reflecting America in their work.  

Still an inspiration to young Black women today, Edwina Justus still resides in Omaha, NE. In 2017, Justus spoke at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum on a Saturday afternoon during a Black History Month event. Her advice on this day was the same as what her younger self would have said: “Never stop daydreaming.”  

by Isabelle Brown  | 


Diverse Voices in Outdoor Recreation

Black history is still being made every day in the United States. For this week’s Black History Month blog post, we’d like to look at racial diversity and its place in outdoor recreation, specifically biking and running. Two environmentally sustainable modes of transportation and exercise, these activities may seem trivial to some. But for Black Americans, there are still glass ceilings to shatter within these communities.

Cycling

It seems that there is a prevalent lack of racial diversity in outdoor recreational sports. But you would be surprised to learn that the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2019 Participation Report shows that 26.3% of outdoor participants were BIPOC, with Black Americans above any other ethnic group. This brings us to the actual problem: A historic lack of representation.

Whether you notice it or not, cycling is often depicted in the lens of a particular class: white, cisgender, and able-bodied people. How do we break through the exclusive perspective that cycling has taken on?

We can start by sharing the mission of diverse groups in the cycling community that are creating inclusive spaces for Black cyclists. The All Mountain Brothers are part of the movement to diversify the outdoors with their BIPOC mountain biking group. Black Girls Do Bike are creating a community of Black women who share the passion of cycling. Diversify Outdoors is a group who works to promote diversity in all outdoor spaces for BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and any other identity that has been underrepresented.

Running

When a Sunday afternoon in Brunswick, GA, became a day of tragedy, the black running community mourned together for Ahmaud Arbery. On February 23, 2020, the 25-year-old young man was pursued by armed men and killed while on his daily jog.

The death of this innocent Black man highlights the terrifying reality for many Black Americans, not just those who run. But for the diverse community known as F.E.A.R., this heightened a daily threat for these runners. F.E.A.R., Forget Everything And Run, is an organization of young professionals with a passion for health, fitness, socializing, and running, who have paved their own space in the running community for Black and POC athletes in a predominantly white community.

Created in 2016, F.E.A.R. has since been recognized on Today, The Run Wave Podcast, Runner’s World, and more. Headquartered in Milwaukee, F.E.A.R. centers their mission on bridging the gap in the running community and building relationships. “Diversity is key and making sure all runners, especially minority runners, are represented.”

Representation Matters

Representation in these sustainable modes of transportation and pieces of a healthy lifestyle is so important. Cycling brings issues of economics and class: the cost barrier to buy a bicycle, the lack of safe bike routes and lanes in cities and towns, and overall, the discriminatory history of the activity.

Luckily, there are organizations popping up in local communities helping to close the gap in accessibility to bikes. In our own community, there are bike shops that collect donated bikes, refurbish them, and even provide training on fixing them, like BiCi Co. in Hartford, CT, and Bradley Street Bicycle Co-Op in New Haven.

As Black Americans reclaim their power and place in the cycling and running communities, they are showing the Black youth in our country that they are welcome, they are worthy, and they part of the shift in ending racism in outdoor recreation.

by Isabelle Brown  |