Photo by Dan4th on Flickr.

If you see person with a disability, an elderly person, or a pregnant woman on a crowded bus or train, please give up your seat!

Reader Melissa experienced the worst of human nature in a recent ride on the K Street Circulator around 10:30 one day. She was about 8 months pregnant and had a seat next to a window.

An elderly gentleman of about 80 got on the bus, and couldn’t sit down. Melissa decided to give him her seat, but the other woman in the seat next to her wouldn’t move over to the window. The man couldn’t climb over, so he gave up and told Melissa just to sit back down.

Later, a woman on crutches got on, and Melissa again gave up her seat and moved to the back of the bus. But a stop or two later, as the bus filled up further, she saw the woman on crutches moving toward the back of the bus; it turns out some other, able-bodied person, had taken the seat!

Melissa made “a stink about a pregnant lady giving up her seat for someone on crutches,” she says, and only then did people offer seats to both of them.

Folks, many people don’t want to go around loudly asking others to give up seats. If you see someone who is less physically able than yourself on the bus, please volunteer the seat. If someone asks you to give up a seat or move over to accommodate someone, please cheerily agree.

In particular, the row of seats nearest the door is reserved by law for seniors and persons with disabilities when necessary. If you’re in one of those, it’s extra important to give up your seat.

Meanwhile, Emily (@TheFrogget) was riding the G8 bus in Bloomingdale. A mom placed her folded stroller on a shelf next to the door; Emily was sitting in the seat immediately adjacent, but there was a seat right across the aisle.

Emily says, “I got the stink eye for 30 mins and then a scolding when she got off. If the bus had been full, I would have happily given her my seat. But there was an open one 3 feet away.” The woman didn’t ask Emily to move, just fumed that she didn’t.

It seems to me that while anyone should have been willing to give up a seat for the mom and child had there been no seats, there’s no rule that the seat has to be the one they specifically want when there’s another within easy eyeshot of the stroller. On the other hand, if the woman had asked nicely, I’d hope Emily would have happily moved over. Only the woman didn’t ask.

What do you think? Have you had any bad (or good) etiquette experiences on buses?

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David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.