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Transportation: Walking Class Hero
@The Wednesday English Conversation Club
Bethesda Library, Montgomery County, Maryland, USA

Let us get started…
National Walk to Work Day is held the first Friday of April in the United States. Each spring, people promise to walk to work on that day. The date varies around the world according to climate; for example, it is 24 April 2008 in the UK. Here is the version from Australia:

I hereby pledge that I will be a Walking Class Hero and participate in "Walk to Work Day 2008.” Barring unforeseen or extraordinary circumstances, I pledge to leave my car at home on Friday 3 October. I will catch public transport to within walking distance from my work and then walk the rest of the way. If public transport is not an option I pledge to leave my car at least a kilometre away from work and walk the remaining distance. I also pledge to actively encourage my friends and colleagues to take part in the event.

Today we will look at public transportation and commuting choices here in America as well as in our home countries!

girl walking

Background:
Congratulations! Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland, are two of the top ten cities in the country for commuting by public transport! Boston, Massachusetts, has the highest percentage of commuters who walk to work. Portland, Oregon, can boast the most cycling commuters. Yet, unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans still drive to work, according to a 2005-2007 U.S. Census Bureau study. Nine out of 10 workers, or 87.7 percent, drive to work.

"With each succeeding year, we'll be able to see how people respond to changing circumstances, such as rising gas prices," Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon said in a statement. And the US city where the most workers have given up on commuting? San Francisco, where 6.3 percent of employees work from home compared to the national average of 3.6 percent.
Source: Wed Jun 13, 2007 7:26pm ED NEW YORK (Reuters Life)

Would you agree with Thomas Jefferson, our third president? He said:
The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is the best.

Over to you:
Think about your experience with transportation in your home country…in this country…

man walking

In pairs for 5 minutes, ask, listen, and answer these questions:
• What form of transportation did you use today? Car, bus, bicycle? Why?
• With whom did you travel?
• From where did you leave?
• When did you leave? How long does it take to get here? To get back?
• How else could you have travelled? By car, bus, bicycle? Why or why not?
• If you did not walk here today, why not?
Share your partner’s answers with the group.

Round Robin ~ each client, in turn, asks the table one of the following questions:

Did anyone bring tickets, passes, maps? Take a few moments to talk about the public transportation that you used in your home country. (8 kilometers = 5 miles)

In your opinion, what country or city you have lived in has a great public transportation system?

What form of public transportation is available in your hometown? Trains, ferries, busses, bicycles? In your home country?

Who takes public transport in your home country? The rich, the poor, everybody?

How do the elderly and the disabled take public transport in your home country? What are the differences in costs and accommodations?

How expensive is public transportation there compared to here?

Whom do you travel with at home? Are there different class compartments? Do men, women, and children each get a seat? Share the same space?

Is it legal to eat, smoke, or drink alcohol on public transport in your home country? Is it socially acceptable to talk to other people?

What about buying or selling? Is proselytizing, ♫ busking ♪, or begging allowed?

What was your commute to work like in your home country? How long did it take?

Did you like using public transportation in your home country? Why or why not? In the US?

What street and traffic signs are there in your home country for pedestrians? Any special crosswalks or districts? What are the pedestrian laws like?

What kind of shoes do you wear for commuting? Athletic shoes, work shoes, dress shoes? When you get to work, would you change into another pair? Why or why not?

How do you dress for the weather when you use public transport? Any special water-resistant foldaway garments or accessories? Reflective gear?

How do people in your home country carry important papers and money? Bags, backpacks, secret waist wallets? Is crime is more of a problem on Suburban Maryland/Washington, D.C. public transport than in your home country? Less?

What is the worst distance you have had to travel on a regular basis? Where and why?

Compare your commute to your parents’ commute. Did your mother work at home? How far did she have to walk everyday? How about your father?

Think about your grandparents. What was their daily life like? How far did they commute? Was their commute seasonal?

Lastly, what about the future? Do you think the next generation in your home country will use public transport more than you did? Less? Why or why not?

Visit: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library for more English Learner information as well as
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Trip Planner at www.wmata.com
http://www.walkingworks.org.uk/content/national_walk_to_work_day.php

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