In the Aug. 21 column, reader Lynn Wood of Bowie said that obese Metro riders should be charged double because they crowd seated passengers and block aisles. This is a sensitive subject.
Here are some responses, including this first one from a self-described "fat Metro rider."
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
As a frequent Metro rider, I can only assure your reader that I do more than my fair share to ensure that I don't subtract from the personal space requirements of average-sized Metro riders.
I board at the end doors of the end cars on Metro trains, and, unless boarding at Shady Grove (where seats are usually plentiful), I stand against a wall or in a nook of the car with no seats, minimizing my presence in the flow of traffic on and off the car.
I never sit next to someone else and only sit when 50 percent or more of the car has empty seats.
Only in the most crowded of situations (which is extremely rare) do I find myself standing in the aisle or partially blocking a door, and in those situations, my guess is that during those peak hours, the space I'm taking up would be filled by other riders of various shapes and sizes were I not there.
I'm sure that I'm not the only fat Metro rider who makes similar accommodations on their daily commute.
Regarding your column where Lynn Wood complained about obese riders, I totally support that opinion and have felt for years that obese people should have to pay twice for Metro seats.
I understand that it's mass transit; however, they should have size limitations for Metro riders using seats.
If you're wider than 22 inches, you shouldn't be sitting in a seat. Period.
I'm tired of being squashed by obese riders. I once had an obese woman try to sit beside me, but she ended up sitting on me (she was so huge) and just about broke my hip.
I was quite surprised to see the letter from Lynn Wood, who believes obese people should be double-charged for riding Metro.
In fact, I recently sat next to someone who did not quite fit into her seat. Though I had to slightly adjust how I sat, I was fully aware that if her size truly bothered me, I could have sat elsewhere or stood. Everyone has options.
Individuals with weight problems have enough difficulties in everyday life without unsympathetic people suggesting ways to make life worse.
. . . I'm sure you're getting a fair amount of feedback regarding your reader who wants Metro to impose extra fares on people who are taking up too much space. Your reply was extremely diplomatic.
It would be interesting to hear how Metro's employees would determine who qualifies for these fares and how they would be assessed.
Metro is public transportation that is meant to move many people of all shapes, sizes, etc., from point A to point B.
Public transportation is clearly not for everyone, and those who feel they are above mingling with the actual public should probably consider other transportation.
Please, Lynn, next time do your fellow riders a favor and hail a cab.
Having considered these letters, my sympathies are with obese people. I suspect they must suffer all sorts of difficulties just getting about, and I would not like to see public transportation discriminate against them. If they are in some way annoying, then those annoyed can quietly move away.
A reminder that there is a major golf tournament today in Gainesville. The course is along Route 29, near Interstate 66. Might be good to avoid both roads.
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Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.
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